On Little Women
Updated: Feb 4, 2021
I’m grateful to have spent the morning with some old friends. Such a quiet comfort.
With my littles back to school after Christmas break, I started the week with ambitions to catch up on everything from undecorating to finally touching my manuscript after about a month. A cleaning machine, I finished Monday and Tuesday strong. As for Wednesday…
I know I’m aging myself but I’m of the generation that’s old enough to say “where they were” on September 11th, thereby replacing that of the “JFK” crisis I’d heard others give accounts of during my childhood. An undergrad at the time, that fateful morning I was home working on an independent study for Dr. Meyer’s sociology class. She was conducting research and my assignment was to transcribe her taped interviews (yes- cassette tapes!). I got up early, determined to get a jump start before heading off to my afternoon classes. Headphones on and alone in my room, I had no idea of the chaos enfolding on the live morning news my grandparents were watching.
I’ll never forget the look on my grandmother’s face when she raced upstairs to tell me. I can’t begin to describe it. At first I thought she was referring to a small, private aircraft. That, sadly, an inexperienced pilot simply lost control.
We held hands and cried when the towers fell. I’d never felt so afraid. She’s long since passed and, honestly, I’m glad she’s not here to see how far we’ve fallen since then.
What does any of this have to do with ‘Little Women’? While I’d love to give you a high profile analysis of how the March family’s everyday struggles in the midst of a nation at odds with itself can provide hope during these tumultuous times, I’m not going to. I’m quite confident there are greater minds than mine who would do a much better job (if anyone wants to take up the cross- please do!) This post about my grandmother.
I’ve had this book for over thirty years. She gave it to me after I completed my first book report in 3rd grade which, ironically enough, was based only on Alcott’s first volume of the story. Rereading it again in anticipation of Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film, I was shocked and heartbroken when a) Beth died and b) the Laurie/Amy pairing. To be clear, I’m not opposed to the relationship, it just caught my fourteen year-old self completely by surprise.
The book club I belong to read the work again last year. While I’ve always related to Jo (can you say #writergoals?), as a mother I found Meg’s struggles with the twins as well as her jam incident more endearing and relatable this time around. What struck me the most, though, was that I instinctively read Marmee in my grandmother’s voice.
In addition to Alcott, I’ve always enjoyed Lucy Maud Montgomery. Similar to myself, the author was raised by her grandparents. In hindsight, this is likely why I was so drawn to her characterization of Anne.
Named after my own grandmother, I used to joke with her about the similarity of our initials (“Laura Marie” to their “LM’s”). She always believed in me and there are times- like this week- when I miss her very much.
And so I found myself today. All curled up. Perusing Marmee’s passages and not feeling so afraid anymore.