My youngest child, my daughter, is named after my mother just as I was named for my grandmother. I never got a chance to ask my mother specifically what her motivation was when she named me or what her mother’s reaction was to the tribute. She’d let me know that naming me had been stressful, she had come up with two names that got shot down by both my father and her father before, Jeanne, her mother’s name, stuck. When my grandmother died, two years later, at the age of fifty-four from ovarian cancer, my mother, still so young herself, suffered a brutal blow, something she never quite recovered from and I knew even as a little girl that asking questions about my “GiGi” might unleash an emotional churning that was best to avoid.
When I was pregnant for the third time, my husband and I discussed many name possibilities. I was led to believe I was having a boy (because of a slow heart beat) so didn’t really focus on girl’s names. Truth be told, I was happy being the mother of boys. Mothering boys would allow me to dodge the minefield of mother/daughter sparring. So as unfamiliar as a family of boys was to this female only child, I was more than happy to take it on.
In the delivery room, however, when I was presented with a baby girl, I sort of lost it with excitement. Turned out I’d been in denial with that ‘I’d be happy to have only boys’ stuff. I guess down deep I did yearn for a child I could relate to as a woman. Absolutely over the moon, so full of hormones and emotion that my heart completely took over, I sort of surprised myself with the decision to name her, Anne, after my mother. It just seemed liked what was supposed to happen.
Even though I never asked my mother about the motivation behind my naming, I can tell you what I was thinking when it was my turn. Naming our daughter after her grandmother was an expression of love, not just love but also honor and respect to a woman who didn’t always feel that I honored and respected her. With that one act, I was finally able to express what I had never been able to put into words.