“Ada Elizabeth went to town
Dressed in her mother’s wedding gown…”
So begins the limerick Ada’s grandmother made up for her when she was fresh out of the oven. We put a lot of thought into naming our firstborn. “Ada” after Ada Lovelace, touted as the first female computer programmer and an amazing mathematician. “Elizabeth” after my great-grandmother, known by everyone as “Betty”.
Betty was a tough one from what I can remember of the stories. Sent to a sanitarium because of tuberculosis. Her three children taken into foster care, not to be reunited until my grandmother was 14 years of age. I saw none of that. I saw a sweet, old lady who made a plethora of plastic canvas goodies from Christmas stars we still hang each year on our Charlie Brown-esque artificial tree to little pouches for rain bonnets. I loved visiting her. And even as a small child, I remember attending her graveside funeral. My mom wrote something my mind recalls as “blah blah blah blah” as she read, but I remember the emotion she put into writing it and I remember the last line, “But most of all, I remember Grandma” (an homage to the play “I Remember Mama”).
While the kids and I adventured today, I found us driving by a cemetery that felt familiar. As if my mom’s voice was still softly floating over the aged gravestones from near past to the 1800’s. “I remember Grandma”. There happened to be an abandoned building across the street. Not my style. You know me by now. I love the places where people once lived and are now savagely consumed by nature. This appeared to be a business or apartment complex out in the middle of nowhere, across the street from an ancient cemetery.
We parked conveniently on the cemetery drive to walk across the street, but I felt the urge to see if this was where Great-Grandma was buried. I tried to explain what a cemetery was to Ada, but alas, 2 year-old minds have a hard time grasping things they haven’t experienced. We passed gravestones of those who fought in World Wars, an infant nestled in among the giant family pillar, and other markers from a time when Ada Lovelace herself was alive.
Then we found it. A neatly kempt, but rarely visited site. “Elizabeth”. I told Ada this was in memory of my own Great-Granny and after whom Ada’s middle name was taken. We touched the letters.
“This is Great-Granny’s home”, Ada said.
I think she gets it after all. Life has come full circle, from a history of our own family passed through to our kids to a history of Ada Lovelace carried through in the years on the worn gravestones hugging the worn edges of my great-grandmother’s cemetery. And we, with young life in our kids, seek out once again to explore the ancient, abandoned history of our rural state.