That’s me—15 years old. Twenty-six years later and I just realized how much I have forgotten some precious moments in my life.
But let me back up a bit and give some background. Part of my heritage is Lithuanian, and like other cultures, we also have a cotillion—a formal evening ball. Our Lithuanian cotillion is called “The Amber Ball”—Amber being the national gem of Lithuania. It began with a dream of the Council General of the Chicago Lithuanian Women’s Club, Josephine Dauzvardis. She wanted a Lithuanian debutante presentation ball (although I’m sure Mrs. Dauzvardis didn’t have “me” in mind as a precious gem). During this presentation, the debutantes are presented by their fathers, and Lithuanian folk dances performed with escorts and post-debutantes. Each debutante comes out to the ballroom floor and bows before everyone.
My mother bowed in the first Amber Ball in 1961, and I bowed at the 25th Amber Ball in 1985 with my two cousins. This is a picture of me doing part of the bow.
What prompted me to write about this is that there is a 50th Amber Ball Anniversary celebration in October. Yesterday, I started looking through the Amber Ball booklet from my year, reading through the pages, best wishes, and pictures. I haven’t looked at it in years, and I guess when I did in the past, I never REALLY saw what was written. My grandmother, who has passed away, left wishes for me, and within them stated, “Continue to follow your dreams…whatever they may be. Your success is my success.” I actually got tears in my eyes reading those words. My grandmother, Genevieve (Getling) Giedraitis was a true lady, and well…I was far from it. I was the type of teenager who argued about everything and defied what every adult said—a “don’t tell me what to do” type teenager. I wasn’t good with authority.
Now twenty-six years later, it dawns on me that I didn’t appreciate the kind of woman my grandmother was and the talent she shared with the world. My grandmother was a professional opera singer—she expressed her words through voice. I express my words through writing. Even though I didn’t REALLY read what my grandmother wrote, or maybe I had forgotten, I did follow her wishes. I followed my dreams of writing…And grandma, if you’re looking down, my success IS your success. God Bless You!