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Category: namesake

Family Names: Naming from the Heart

Dorothy'sGrandma2 ~1

Today’s guest blogger, Ilya Welfeld, describes her journey towards the perfect–and inevitable –name for her daughter.

Is it wrong to admit that I sometimes want another child just to name it?  That at times, that desire is so powerful as to supersede memories of chafed breasts, sleepless nausea and the exhausting reality of carefully raising a precious child?

The awe-inspiring and all creative opportunity to put a name to a life has seduced me like a secret lover – a passion you cannot acknowledge despite the obsessive hold it has upon your every thought.   After each child, I have wondered… will I ever name again?

When pregnant, I pour over books, bookmark websites, read messages boards, post and poll as I consider what to call each child.  I can’t resist the urge to utter new names, explore meanings and sounds from languages and family lore. The names of our children have all been inspired by a relative who has passed away. This, a Jewish tradition, not only adds beautiful meaning to the act of naming, but honestly helps narrow the focus. I can’t imagine having A-Z available to me.

When I became pregnant with our daughter, our third child, my naming obsession went into over-drive. My husband begrudgingly played a game night after night just before we closed our eyes. I would ask – “If you had to pick a name right now- what would it be?” Sometimes he managed a measure of enthusiasm – and names like “Jana” or “Samara” emerged. Other times, befuddled by my obsession, he would grunt “Brunhilda” and flip his head around to face the other wall while I lay frustrated that he didn’t share my passion for finding the perfect name.

But all the while, we knew there was one name to reckon with, a name that might make moot all ten thousand entries in baby name books.

My grandmother was a magical person, a warm, loving beacon to those around her.  We called her “Grandma” – a word that meant love and comfort, chicken soup, chocolate ice cream, ivory soap and freshly swept carpets.   But of course, we were not going to name a little girl “Grandma.”  My grandmother had a given name.  As a matter of fact, it was one of the most popular names of the century.  The previous century, that is…. Her name was Dorothy.

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