Friday, November 14, 2014

Sharing Names in Sally Stratford's "Inheritance"

A sharing of names, and of stories, bonds two family members together. She’s ready to hear more stories, she’s “holding a tape recorder” waiting for her to wake up. This desire to know about our ancestors’ is common in the LDS culture; as is the sharing of names. How often while performing ordinances for family members in the temple, do you hear the same name?

My grandmother, Alice Clariece Ricks Christensen
I reflect on my grandma, my grandpa, and my family while reading this poem. My grandma Alice was sick and in bed for a long time. I often sat by her bedside. My grandpa cared for her relentlessly for nine years. My husband’s grandmother’s name is also Alice, and this is what he wants to name our baby girl, who is coming in April. I haven’t been so sure about it, and I don’t know if I still am. But coming from my great-uncle’s funeral just now, I realized how much I love my family, especially those older than me who have worked so hard to pave a good life for me. Naming my baby Alice wouldn’t just be a tribute to my grandma—it would be a gentle, sweet reminder to my own mother of her mother; to my grandpa of his wife, and to my husband and I of the wonderful grandmothers we have known and loved. And it is this legacy of remembering and honoring our family that has Latter-day Saints reusing names. I believe there really is a special meaning in the sharing of names.

When Sally Stratford (the author) starts off mentioning that the two of them share names, you sense there is a bond between them. Then, she continues with detailed imagery to further paint the physical scene of things around her—her ring like “a heavy rock of salt”, her chair—which is “a pink velvet chair”. But she further lets us see what she is seeing, her sweet gentle grandmother. Sally uses a simile to describe her grandmother’s sagging, aged skin “like pie crust draping over apples”. There are tender descriptions of her grandmother, and sweet reminiscing on the stories already once told. We know this time together will soon end—as the author alludes to her grandmother’s passing that is just around the corner. However, the end doesn’t make me feel sad. It seems like it is time, and that all will be well. The sun will still shine, and the stories will still live, as will her grandmother’s name and the legacy associated to it.

-Lizzy S.

(419 words)
Poem: "Inheritance", Sally Stratford, page 400 


  1. I like the perspective you shared on the significance of sharing names. I think this is a very cultural thing for Mormons, as well as the general population, to share names. However, I think the way that Mormons think of their ancestors when it comes to sharing names is unique to Mormons, that is, the way that we remember our ancestors and our family history is unique to us because of our temple work. I think you did a good job highlighting this.

  2. I think that this is a way that the Spirit of Elijah can work in our lives! It helps create another link between us and our ancestors. This reminded me of my own grandmother, as my niece and my sister are both named after her. I imagine that in their lives they will find a desire to know more about their predecessors that they are named after.