We Named Each Other

Jul 12, 2022Archive

Last night my grandfather breathed his last. I was not able to hold his gnarled hand, could not sing songs of kindness over him. I prayed. Oh, I prayed. But I grieved from many states away.

I gave him the name Bopo, which then became his grandfather name–all the grands called him that. And he gave me the nickname Boatsie because my name is Mary and Elizabeth, and if you put Queen in front of either, you have the names of ships.

He loved ships. A navy man in World War 2, he flew hellcats off aircraft carriers in the Pacific theater. He was of the greatest generation–compassionate, hard working, funny, industrious, kind. He worked for Boeing, loved Nana (my grandmother) fiercely, and valued time with his three children.

But something stands out to me as I type this.

In the mid 90s when I wanted to be a writer, I could not afford a computer. I didn’t know how to get one, and, eventually, I approached Bopo with a request. (I was nervous to ask.) “Would you be willing to loan me money to buy a computer,” I asked.

Immediately, he smiled and said yes.

I began publishing then, and I paid back that loan quickly. Bopo was the start of that–the kind of man who believes in others, cheers them on, and applauds when they succeed. I am the legacy of his kindness.

He leaves a gaping hole. He lived all 98.5 years of his life–generously like that. Because I was fatherless (I’ve been so now for 45 years), he shared walking me down the aisle when I married Patrick.

So today marks the loss of another father, a grief that leaks out in tears, then sobs. I miss him already.

All I can do is write my pain and marvel at his belief in an unpublished Boatsie with a dream. The night he passed was the night my literary agency birthed. Death precedes resurrection, but oh what a grief.


  1. Lesa

    Mary, I am sorry for your loss. Your Bopo sounds like one of God’s miracles placed in your life to love, comfort and guide you. We all need people like him to love and encourage us, to make us feel safe and cherished. My safe place was my dad. He passed away 30+ years ago. I still find comfort in thinking about him. May those cherished memories of your Bopo give you comfort until you join him in Heaven. God Bless you and your family.

  2. dan castilleja

    I had neither a father or grandfather to raise me. My mom held all those roles and she passed four years ago. I smile reading your words about your grandfather, how he believed in you, how he was your rock for so long. We need more men like your grandpa, the “Greatest Generation” is certainly correct. Please tell us more about his life in coming articles or stories, i am sure you have volumes to share of what you’ve learned from him.
    all my best, thank you for sharing and I am sorry for your loss.

    • Mary

      I’m so grateful for your mom’s work in your life!

  3. Lynn Nancarrow

    Mary, we are praying for you in this time of grieving. I wish I could hug you. May the Lord Jesus wrap you up in his everlasting love and peace. O

  4. Lucille Gaither

    Mary, I’m sorry for your loss. But thank God for all the years that you had a grandfather.

    When God takes away one or both parents, He has a special purpose for your life. Was that way with Joseph, Esther, Daniel and Moses. Looks like it was that way with you, too.

    Let us rejoice that we have loved ones in heaven. They’ll come back with Jesus to get us.

  5. Anne Alexander

    Holding you close in your grief. Seeing Jesus holding you closer, your head on His shoulder, as your grief heaves through your body.

    Great loves call out to the deeps and stir the waters for healing.

    Grieving now too, so I empathize. Too many inadequately grieved deep losses. It’s hard to allow myself to let it heave out, but God ambushes me, then holds me… as He is holding you (now and forever).

    Blessings with tears…

  6. Lecia Andrews

    Mary, I’m so sorry for your and your family’s loss of your Bopo. I enjoyed reading about him so much💕 but my heart is heavy for you.😪 May GOD bless & comfort all your hearts.😔🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️

  7. Linda Rowan

    Praying for you Mary as you grieve this great loss.
    May the prince of peace surround you with peace.