Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pid Was Her Name

Pid was my grandaunt. And, as you probably gathered, "Pid" was not her given name. We come from a family that bestows mysterious nicknames on its members for reasons unknown. Florence Maud was dubbed "Mizzy," Elizabeth Lucretia was called "Luli," and Evelyn Natalie was known as "Sophie." My name is Danielle, yet to my grandparents, I was "Henrietta." Figure that one out.

Then there was Evelyn May, better known as "Pid." Unfortunately, there is no one left from her generation who remembers how that moniker came about. It was just always there and somehow perfectly illuminated the person she was to us. In fact, when we heard someone outside the family call her "Evelyn" or "Evie," it rang untrue, as though they were talking about someone else. 

As a person, she defined the unusual name. If there were a dictionary entry, it would read:  

Pid, ca. 1979-1980
  • Pid n. A woman who exhibits the qualities of frugality, fierce independence, strong opinion, moral high-mindedness, temperance, outspokenness, charity, and selflessness. Such a woman may lecture others on moral turpitude, then grant them tremendous generosity without question.

If, at any point, someone mentioned the above characteristics, a family member would probably respond, "Oh, you're talking about Pid." And we would smile.

Although widowed and childless, she somehow became the de facto matriarch of our family. Inexplicably, she was everyone's mother.

It was with Pid that I began exploring family history. She shared the stories of her deceased siblings, her late parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and beyond. On December 28-29, 2002, I spent the night at her home and stayed up into the wee hours listening to her stories and recording everything she could recall about her family, reaching as far back into the past as she could and sharing things only she knew.

It was a long and perfect night that I will always treasure. I didn't know it then, but the timing was fortuitous. On March 13, 2003--less than 3 months after she had shared her priceless memories with me--Pid was the victim of a fatal accident at the age of 80. If we hadn't taken the time to explore our family history together that evening, it never would have happened at all.

So, that's why I'm dedicating this genealogy and family history blog to my dearest "Pid"--the one and only.

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