Hearts and Stars: A Star is Born

In May 2009, I had learned that my grandchild would be a girl and her name would be “Jane Ellen.” I sent the following email to her in July 2009 when my daughter was pregnant.

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Dear Jane: 

Hello, my lovely Granddaughter! I am so excited about you and can’t wait to welcome you into this world. Since I learnt of your pending arrival back in February 2009, I started to think about a unique and young sounding name for “Grandmother.” As you will discover once you’re old enough to do math and understand, you’ll find that I became a mother to your Mummy when I was 17 years old. As I write this people are still shocked when I tell them I have a daughter who is however many years old she is at the time. I hope to milk that response from others for as long as I vainly can. Anyhoo, as a result since I’m now going to become a “Yummy GrandMummy” (I live in Birmingham, England right now and it’s a take on “Yummy Mummy” which is popular in the UK), I obviously needed to have a young-sounding name for “Grandmother.” I’ve asked many friends, family members, and colleagues for suggestions since February. I even Googled possible names in all the ethnic backgrounds that make-up who I am, your Mummy, and now you, too: Filipina, Chinese, Spanish, Mexican, Italian, German, and English. I wasn’t moved by any name that came up on Google. Then, last Friday morning as I started to wake-up I stared at an ocean-themed mobile I have hanging in my bedroom. I like pretty things that hang: earrings, Christmas ornaments, and mobiles. In my half asleep/half awake state I stared at a blue starfish (um, don’t worry, you won’t be addressing me as “Blue Starfish”). The shape for some reason spoke to me and my mind then went down a Latin path, a language I studied when I was in high school. Well, I found myself saying the Latin word for star which is stella. I was wide awake as though a lightbulb lit above my head. I realised this is the name I would like you to call me. I hope you like it. Why do I love this name? I’ll summarise below:

- Stella is the Latin and Italian word for star.

- “Stella is the female version of the male Greek name Stelios which probably originates from the Greek stylos or styli > style.” (Wikipedia).

- I studied Latin and a little bit of Italian. Your Mummy studied Italian.

- Your middle name is Ellen and Stella sounds similar.

- “Frank Stella (born May 12, 1936) is an American painter and printmaker. He is a significant figure in minimalism and post-painterly abstraction. He was born in Malden, Massachusetts. After attending high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he went on to Princeton University, where he painted, influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, and majored in history. Early visits to New York art galleries would prove to be an influence upon his artistic development. Stella moved to New York in 1958 after his graduation. He is one of the most well-regarded postwar American painters who still works today. Frank Stella has reinvented himself in consecutive bodies of work over the course of his five-decade career.” (Wikipedia). Interestingly, Jane, I was born May 12, 1963. I was considered to be the “Best Girl Artist” when I was in the second grade. I find this to be a proud achievement even as an adult. I still love art and your Mummy is very creative and talented, too.

- As your Grandmother I will help you reach your potential, reach for the stars, and help you make your dreams come true.

- Someday, you can find a star in the sky that will be ours and when we are apart, just look at the star to remind yourself of our relationship together. I already love you and you’re not even here yet! Of course, you can spend time with me, call me, and text me if it’s an overcast or foggy night.

- As mentioned above, stella also means style. I have that and so does your Mummy, too.  I’m sure it is in your blood and one of your strengths will be your unique sense of style. Will you be classic? Professional? Goth? Punk? Tomboy? Or will you need a Glamour makeover?

- Finally, your Mummy loves theatre and performing arts just as I do. Someday you’ll watch “A Streetcar Named Desire” and learn a popular exclamation made by Marlon Brando – “Stella!”

I look forward to the day when I hear you say my name.

With much love,

xxStella :-)

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At the new hospital where I had worked, my supervisor took a lot of personal time off as well as being off-site for various meetings in the first few months that we opened. As the next senior person I was expected to cover for her, my ward, and help hire and train staff. Many of them had not worked in mental health before.

I had sought a second medical opinion in Birmingham after I had a previous appointment in Northampton before I moved. The doctors who examined me in each location suggested major surgery, something I had never had in my entire life. The procedure would take a few months for me to recover. Given that I had saved the bulk of my annual leave/vacation to fly back to the US for the birth of Jane, I asked my doctor if I could postpone the surgery until I returned to the UK. Although a bit hesitant, he understood and said it would be okay to wait.

For medical reasons, my daughter, Jennifer, had scheduled a Caesarean for October 1, 2009. As a resident of England, this made it incredibly easy for me to book a flight to the US. By the end of September 2009, I was on my way to San Diego, CA. Excited didn’t begin to describe my feelings as a soon-to-be grandmother. I couldn’t wait to welcome Jane into the world and help Jennifer at home after the birth, too.


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