Letter to My New Nephew

March 15, 2011 at 7:29 am | Posted in Family Ties | 4 Comments
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Dear Liam Daniel,
You came into this world on March 13th, 2011 at 1:29 a.m. weighing 7 pounds and six ounces.  I first saw you when you were twelve hours old and all I could think was how perfect you are.  Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, resting peacefully.  You won’t remember the day you were born, but you need to know that you changed a lot of lives on that day.  On that day, many people opened their hearts and found more love than they knew they ever had, and it was all for you.

To the outside world, you may have looked like a lot of other babies, but I knew better.  As soon as I saw you I knew you were an angel.  You came here to bring great hope and happiness.  You came here to be loved, and to give love in return.  You came here to make the world a better place. And while you may not necessarily save the world, you have saved a family and created a new family.  You made me an aunt, my brother, a father, my sister-in-law, a mom, and my parents, grandparents.  From this day forth, you will be my strength on the tough days, you will be my light in the deepest darkness, you are my wish for a better day.

You are a lucky baby.  You have been born into a multicultural family.  You will be fluent in both Spanish and English.  You will have many cousins to play with and learn from.   Most of them will be from your mother’s side. Your father has a very small family, but we have just as much love for you as the rest of your family.

My dearest Liam, you need to know that the world we live in is not an easy one.  You will experience a lot in your life. You will learn a lot, and it won’t ever get easier.  But you will always prevail and you will become strong.  Liam, I can’t say that you won’t ever have problems or experience adversity, because you will, but you will have the love, support and confidence to triumph.  Life really is a beautiful thing.

Liam, you have given so much to this family in just the few short days you have been with us.  Your family has experienced some very tough hardships and sometimes it’s difficult to even get out of bed, but just knowing you exist makes every day brighter.

I can’t wait to hold you, and love you, and teach you.  I will always be here for you, as will the rest of the family.  Thank you for being with us, and thank you for making me an aunt.  I love you.

Embracing Your Name

January 20, 2011 at 7:34 am | Posted in Family Ties, Life and Living | 12 Comments
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photo credit: exponentialprograms.com

I don’t know if there is something in the air or what, but I can name five women I know who are currently pregnant… and another two who just had babies… and several others who became moms in the past few years.  It’s just that stage in my life I guess.  Whatever it is, there is always several initial questions on the minds of the friends of the pregnant — one being what the child will be named. And with my first nephew just a couple of short months away from entering the world, I can’t wait to find out what we will call him!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a bit of an obsession with names.  I have a name book that interprets names that I used to create characters in my early short stories.  Like any writer, the characters are typically based on someone you know, but you don’t want to simply use that person, so you come up with a similar persona and a name to match.  I cast myself as “Molly” in my short stories.  I’m not quite sure why.  I think of Molly’s as sort of shy, deep thinkers, hidden beauties.  I am definitely not shy, though I do think of myself as a deep thinker.  Perhaps I just always felt like I was waiting for someone to discover something great in me, and this is the way it manifested.  Who knows? I was like, 13.

Whatever my thought process, the idea is the same when you name your child.  You are creating the character you hope your child will be.  The only difference is that this is a real person who has to make that name work for them for their whole lives.

I always liked my name.  There weren’t a lot of Dana’s in my school so I was able to feel fairly unique growing up, which was important to me.  I did not really like my middle name.  To me, Blair sounded very old.  It took me a long time to grow into that name.

We live in a time where people are becoming very… unique with their name choices.  As someone who is all for unique I am surprisingly not likely to follow this trend when I enter into mommyhood.  A person needs to be able to live with their name, and be able to make it their own.  Kids will always make fun of each other and giving a kid a tough name can make them an easy target.  I feel like there are so many beautiful names that have deep roots in history, names that aren’t always thought of and in that way can become unique.

But it’s all up to the parents to make that major decision about how their children will be first presented to the world, what every first impression they will make will be like.  And all parents want something different for their children.  I think the most important idea overall is to have a name that you can make your own.  Your name becomes part of your identity so you need to embrace your name to embrace your identity and come into your own.

The Grandfather I Never Knew

December 23, 2010 at 7:36 am | Posted in Family Ties | 6 Comments
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In just a few short weeks, I will become an aunt for the first time. This is very exciting for me and my family. The first grandchild. But I have to imagine that this is a particularly important moment for my father. He will have done something his own father never did — become a grandfather.

My grandfather died seven years before I was born, four years before my brother. He had been a smoker all his life and succumbed to cancer before ever reaching 60. He left behind two sons and a widow who would live almost another 20 years and would never marry again.

My father is a very emotional and proud man. It was a common occurrence growing up to catch him swelling with pride when one of his children scored a goal in soccer, performed in the school play, got an A on a really hard test. It was common to hear him say, “I wish Daddy were here to see this,” and shake his head as if to fight the tears away.

It is true that my grandfather missed out on a lot. But for someone I never met, I feel like I knew him well and that’s thanks to my father. He kept his memory alive with stories and would always tell me how he would react as situations came up.

My favorite story of my grandfather is one where my father paints him as a true hero, and it’s hard to really see it any other way. He had done some legal work for President Hoover, who was quite grateful and told my grandfather he owed him a favor. When World War II ended, my grandfather used this favor to find any relatives who had survived the Holocaust to bring them to safety. He used this favor to save lives.

Of course, not all of the stories my father tells me are quite this triumphant, and many of them are simply intertwined in my memories and difficult to separate from memories of moments I actually experienced. I know my grandfather was a simple hard working man that, despite bad habits, loved his family. And I know he would have loved me. In the pictures I’ve seen of him I see so much of my own father it’s hard to picture him as anything other than amazing.

I’m so happy my father gets to experience meeting his first grand child, and we all can’t wait to spoil him. I plan to spend my time instilling the same kind of memories in this child so he knows what an amazing bloodline he comes from. My grandfather would be proud.

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