By Maryanne Curran
What’s in a name? As far as my grandmother was concerned, names didn’t mean much. Many different people called her many different names. But the one name that stuck the longest was “Flossie.” It was bestowed on her by one of her six sons-in-law. I’m not sure exactly which one christened her with this nickname.
Flossie was grandmother to 27 grandchildren. I was number three in the pecking order and the first female grandchild.
I have many wonderful memories about Flossie. Three things inparticular come to mind when I think about her.
Her generous spirit was well known throughout the neighborhood. Flossie lived on the first floor of a three-decker building in Cambridge, Mass. The apartments above were occupied by her daughters, their husbands, and assorted grandchildren. At one point, my mother, father, brother, and I lived in the second floor apartment until we moved to the suburbs.
If a daughter didn’t need an apartment, Flossie often let acquaintances stay in them – rent-free. These acquaintances were usually down on their luck and Flossie felt obliged to help them. So whenever my immediate family and I would visit Flossie, we never knew for sure whom we would meet in the hallway.
My second memory is that no matter what the time of day, the kettle was always on the stove getting ready to whistle. Drinking tea was a big social activity at Flossie’s house. If Flossie’s daughters and their families were there for a visit, there could be as many as a dozen cups of tea seeping on the kitchen table.
My third favorite memory happened later in her life. Flossie had a bit of the gambling bug in her blood. Nothing too serious. But she liked to bet a dollar or two on her favorite Boston sports team – usually theBoston Bruins. She won more bets than she lost. Flossie closely followed the games she had money on via television or the radio.
After she had a serious stroke, Flossie tried to use her illness as an excuse to not pay up on her bets. But her stroke did not deter my uncles from recovering the money Flossie owed on her bets. She laughingly obliged them and handed over the bucks.
Everything I know about the importance of family begins with Flossie. It wasn’t what she told us. It was what she showed us. She showed us that family love is the most important thing. Flossie taught that to her daughters including my mother Mary. My strong sense of family continues to guide my life today – all due to a woman named Flossie.
Footnote: Flossie’s real name was Mary – just like me and that’s me in the stroller.