Above is my favorite photo of my maternal grandparents, Esther and Albert Kegan, who were patent and trademark lawyers in Chicago.
When I thought about what I wanted to write for my 200th post, I wanted to consider a topic that's important for its history and its future implications. While the photo was taken almost a hundred years ago, the lessons I learned from my grandmother guide me today and will continue to shape my "best practices" moving forward.
People find guides. Some follow religious teachings. I'm not one of those. Others follow the money. I'm a teacher, so that's clearly not my chosen path either. If we're lucky, we find great ideas we want to pursue and mentors who can show us how to approach them. I've been lucky that way. One of the first people in my life who always walked the most thoughtful and generous path was my grandmother. She was so energetic in her kindness that when deciding what to do in our family, we used the mantra, "What would Esther do?"
I can't list all of the ways I want to emulate my grandma, but here are a few:
- She made opportunities for family to gather.
- She brought friends together for frequent parties.
- She donated her time and money to charities.
- She didn't quit despite obstacles.
- She had boundless energy.
- She thought through difficulties and solved problems.
- She wrote great letters and corresponded consistently.
- She carried on cheerfully.
When I read that list, they sound nebulous to me, so I'll give a specific story to demonstrate the extent to which Esther gave of herself. Do you remember those charities that asked people to sponsor a child in a faraway place? The organization would send a photo of the disadvantaged child and ask for a certain number of dollars per month to buy the kid books, food or clean drinking water, etc. My grandmother sponsored a child. She gave beyond the asked-for amount and kept giving for years. She corresponded back-and-forth with that child through his schooling, helping him attend college and graduate school. That boy, older than I am, has done amazing things with his life and still credits my grandmother for making that possible.
You can read a brief bio of my grandparents here.
In 2013, my mother created a Women and Gender Studies travel fund to honor her mother's legacy. Offering such an opportunity to students at University of Illinois' Chicago campus is one answer to the question, What Would Esther Do?
Esther stuck with what was important to her and improved the world around her and the people who knew her. Whenever I need guidance, I could do way worse than answering WWED?
As I stick with writing my weekly posts, two hundred down and many (I hope) to go, I challenge you to do two things:
- First, identify the person whose initial you'd put in the mantra, WW_D?
- Second, take an action that person would admire.
If you want, please share your thoughts in the comments.
20 thoughts on “200. Why WWED?”
I still try to follow the WWED mantra! And also WEJD and WWCD.
Thanks for sharing a bit about grandma.
WWVD works, too!
Carita, you are a testament to your wonderful grandmother. Congratulations on your 200th post.
Thank you. I had two grandmothers from whom I learned so much and also parents and bonus parents. I’m a lucky girl!
Congrats on 200.
Thanks, I’m still on one week at a time, and they add up!
Loved learning more about the Kegans! For me, it’s definitely WWND. Congrats on 200! Xo
We all need WW_D people in our lives. Your mom is absolutely a good one to have!
That great photo was taken before I was born, but it is still how I think of my parents, great models of behavior in many ways.
We all need models of behavior — I have WWED and WWJD and more. Love, me
WWCGD?! 200 posts! ❤️
Congratulations on 200 posts! Thank you for sharing about your grandmother. Truly inspiring!
Thank you so much. She was indeed inspiring!
Congrats on 200 posts! I would say WWND, N stands for my maternal grandmother as well. She was the strongest yet most compassionate woman who inspired me in many ways. It was so lovely to learn about your grandma.
Thanks so much! I’m glad you also have someone worthy of the initials. If you’re ever inspired to write a guest post that will appear in the 200-300 run…
Thank you for sharing the story of your grandmother! I loved getting to know a bit about her, she sounds like an amazing woman. Congrats on 200!
Thanks so much! She was! (and if you want to write a guest post that appears as part of the 200-300 run…)
It is not only the number of posts you have made but the consistent quality of them that thrills me. Now, I’m looking forward to the next 200!
EOk was, and in many ways still is, a special part of my life. I miss her. She was extraordinarily wise, generous, and good.
I am glad her granddaughters remember her with fondness and appreciation. You two are tributes to her legacy.
Thank you. I hope I make it to 400! Maybe by then, I’ll have a published book to talk about on this platform.
If V and I can live up to her legacy, we’d be doing so well. Love, c