I was thinking the other day about how warm it makes us feel to hear from our elders the “lore” of our lives, especially the events of our initial birthday. There is something about having a “history” known to others and repeated to us that grounds us. Maybe it assures us of a place in the family tree. Is it the development of roots? I don’t know, but I believe that hearing from our elders about our early days is important, and that being deprived of this leaves one somewhat insecure the rest of his or her days.
I have always enjoyed telling my son about his birth. My husband and I had been married eleven years before our son was born. I was a confirmed career woman, and he was the up-and-coming entrepreneur. We had made a conscious decision to have no children because our life was just perfect as it was…until we neared husband’s thirtieth birthday. At that time the urge to procreate hit him with an urgency.
My husband lamented first of all that he had decided that he did not want to go without a child and, second, if we did not hurry he’d be too old to be properly engaged in childhood activities. ( I find this particularly ironic now that he has a new baby on the eve of his sixtieth birthday, but I digress) I happily acquiesced, and we entered pregnancy with great expectations and much fanfare. This would be the first grandchild on both sides of the family.
As the due date approached, we pored over name books, considered family names, and thought hard about what to call this child. This was in the dark ages, when one had to wait until actual delivery to see whether one had a son or a daughter, so we worked on both genders.
The girl’s name went fairly easily, and we settled comfortably on “Meredith Elizabeth…” But the boy’s name was up in the air. We narrowed in down to Christopher and Nicholas as first names. I don’t recall what middle names we considered.
I was practicing law throughout my pregnancy, and I battled high blood pressure much of the time. I was hospitalized several days prior to delivery and finally my doctor decided to do a C-section. My husband had attended all the pre-birth classes, so he was allowed to attend the surgery.
I was conscious throughout, having anesthetic for the lower portion of my body only, so I was well aware when the doctor looked up and said, “You have a son! What is his name?”
Without missing a beat, I blurted out, “His name is A. C.!”
This was a name that we had never, ever discussed. I had never, ever even thought of it. It just came to me through the fog of the delivery room. My speaking it was involuntary and as much a surprise to me as it was to hubby. My husband was so shocked that he made a mild protest: “C! Where did that name come from??!!”
One of the attending nurses turned to him and said, “You stay out of this…she can name that baby anything she wants to!” He backed right down.
And the name stuck, and all are agreed that it is the perfect name for our son. We always say that God named him. Certainly, he has been every bit the blessing of a child that one would expect under these circumstances. And, oddly, though we never again used birth control, he was our one and only.
But, back to the premise of this post: From his earliest childhood on, my son has always loved to hear this story. It is the story of how special he was from the very beginning of his life on earth; so special that his parents strained over just what to call him; so special that God, Himself, perhaps intervened to get his name just right.
My own “birth lore” involves naming, too. My cousin was old enough to remember being at the hospital when I was born and told me the story (she is the only one who has). As the family gathered in the waiting room (fathers did not witness delivery back then), she recalled how my father, a lawyer, passed his time writing the names my mother and he had discussed to see how each would look as a professional signature. He settled on a name that does, indeed, look just fine on all those court documents I sign each day as I follow in his professional footsteps. It is a story that stuck with me through my developing years and may have played a part in my determination to finish professional school. Who knows?
I can think of other important family stories, blessings of a sort, which I may share with you from time to time. I will curtail myself now in the interests of reasonable post length. But I’d love to hear family lore stories from you and, especially, how these recitations are received by their subjects and how it might have impacted their lives.
Leave me these details in a comment or, if you want to give me more, I’d love you to e mail me. The e mail address is in our profile. I’d love enough material to do a follow-up post containing these.
Thanks for indulging my early-morning musings! C