Gotcha Day


I am so busy writing grants my head spins right now.  I’m way behind on most of the things that matter to me.  The day I have to turn in the biggest, most high-stakes grant we’ve ever applied for is María’s “Gotcha Day”.  Out walking tonight, I thought about that.  Then I got to thinking about her name and something I wrote a long time ago.  It is good that I will be busy all these days leading up to that day, now that I also know only too much about the day you have to let go.  What I wrote all those years ago still stands.

My mom wasn’t given a choice.  Her mother informed her that her first-born son would be Hans Knut, in honor of his grandfathers.  When I was born it was likewise:  Rosa Vera, even if my mom had hoped she could call me Caroline pronounced in the Swedish way, the rolling r, the emphasis on the last vowel and “line” pronounced “leen”. It sounds like music.

I don’t know if my grandmother Rosa’s name suited her.  She died long before I was born.  Vera’s name fit.  Hard sounding.  It has to do with truth.  Vera knew some truths.  She knew that the sheets in the VIP suite at the hospital where she died were butt ugly and beneath her.  So she sat and waited for 2 hours, life slowly ebbing away despite her strength, while her driver fetched the ones she liked.  Only then did she get in the hospital bed, so she could be true to herself even unto death, a death that came just moments after she lay down.  I don’t know that Vera knew anybody else’s truths, but she certainly knew hers.

I’ve always felt sad for my mom that she could not name me.  I tried not to pay too much mind to a set of names I wished I didn’t have.  I turned instead to think of what I might name a little girl-child of mine.  And then, the daughter given to me by God brought with her a name of her own.  Luz María.  Light.  Light shining in the darkness. Mary. Like that brave young woman who said yes to the impossible.  

I would never have dreamed of such a hopeful name.  Her name was not my gift to her.  Her name has been her gift to me. 

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