EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an exercise in self-flagellation we bloggers inflict upon ourselves to teach us discipline as writers and to build audience. During the month of April, I’ll be posting 26 times, once for every letter in the alphabet. Looking on the bright side, we can each be thankful this is an English language exercise and not Khmer, the language of Cambodia, which sets the world record with a 74-character alphabet! After some misgivings, I’ve decided to proceed with my initial idea of blogging about the special people in my life whose names begin with the appropriate letter. There will be difficulties, like having more than one special person whose names begin with the same letter, forcing me to choose. And then there are those letters — O, Q and X among them — where no name springs readily to mind. What will I do then? We’ll have to wait and see!
Z is for Zoe
Little Zoe is my last grandchild, both chronologically and alphabetically. She represents, so to speak, the end of the line for the A-to-Z Challenge.
My son is a sailor, and was on deployment during a part of his wife’s pregnancy, but Zoe waited for him to return from the sea, her mother going into labor just a few short hours after the USS Nevada secured lines to the pier.
Zoe is blessed with her mother’s dark hair and deep brown eyes. She enjoys being the center of attention, like she was recently for her first haircut. I was on hand for the big event and was expecting tears, but Zoe handled it like a champ. She was more curious than afraid, and the only tears shed came from her mom.
She enjoys playing with her little dishes — a gift from Grandma and Grandpa — and pretending to cook delicious meals inside her toy microwave. But her favorite thing seems to be dogs. She’ll laugh at the antics of her own pets, Hunter and Dakota, but also wants to greet every dog she meets during walks in the park, and it’s clear those dogs love her, too.
Zoe has a winning personality, babbling incoherently, yet emphatically, during our trip to Washington State earlier this month. Grandma and Grandpa weren’t always sure what she was saying, but we were never in doubt that it was very important!
As my only grandchild to have the same last name as me, Zoe is special for that reason, but I’m already looking far into the future. Will she marry, some day? Will she change her name to that of her husband?
When my son’s submarine ties lines to the pier, it represents the end of a journey. Does this female grandchild, then, represent the end of my line? I hate thinking like that because it’s small-minded, but having been raised in a patriarchal society, it’s difficult not to have those thoughts.
A dear friend once taught me to look at life not as a line, not as a circle, but as a spiral, which is the shape it takes when the element of time is added to the equation. On life’s spiral pathway, the ancestors I never knew are no different from the progeny I’ll never meet, and perhaps far into the future, the next writer in the family will have no difficulty thinking of names that start with K, U, V, X or Y, and I’ll be far beyond caring what their surnames will be.
No matter our name, no matter our language, no matter our religion, color or gender, we are all one family, and in that sense, Zoe’s place is no different than yours. Together, we are all special, all blending, all spiraling off into the distance, to a place where endings are defined only by the limits of our imagination.