Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Famous Name

Over the years, various people have commented that I have a relatively well-known name.  One day at school, the third graders wanted to know what my first name was.  I had introduced myself to them only as Mrs. Lincoln.  Third graders are old enough to have some basic research skills, even though it was before the advent of the internet, so I told them only that I have the same name as Abraham Lincoln's mother.  It took them almost half a day before they came up and asked me if my name was really Nancy Lincoln.  Success!  The task kept them busy and focused for several hours and they honed their research skills.

Another day I was substituting in a first grade class.  It was shortly after lunch that a little girl from the class informed me that she had carefully wrapped her retainer in a paper towel while eating lunch, and had then mistakenly thrown the towel into the garbage.  Fortunately the garbage can had not yet been emptied, so we spent the next 15 minutes removing the lunch garbage bit by bit until we found the missing retainer.  That night the girl was explaining her day to her mother.  Her mother asked who the substitute was who helped her find her retainer, but she could not remember my name.  She tried as best she could to describe me to her mother, but to no avail.  Finally, in frustration, she told her mother, "You KNOW her!  She's the president's wife!"

I have been called many names...Mrs. Reagan, Mrs. Washington and several other presidential names. 

Most lately I was sitting next to a new acquaintance while wearing a name tag with my name.  When she saw it, she first commented that it was a famous name, and then immediately began reciting a poem she had apparently memorized in school many years ago.  I had never heard it before so I went home and looked it up.

Nancy Hanks (Lincoln)

by Rosemary Benet
If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She'd ask first
"Where's my son?
What's happened to Abe?
What's he done?"
"Poor little Abe,
Left all alone
Except for Tom,
Who's a rolling stone;
He was only nine
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried."
"Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town."
"You wouldn't know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?"
Julius Silberger wrote another poem, entitled "A Reply to Nancy Hanks"
Yes, Nancy Hanks,
The news we will tell
Of your Abe
Whom you loved so well.
You asked first,
"Where's my son?"
He lives in the heart
Of everyone.
 It certainly is a name to live up to.

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