Friday, January 08, 2010

Naming names

I think that if I wait until I really have time to do this post justice, the baby will be three, so, in a nutshell:

My grandmother, as you know if you've been reading this for a while, died the year before last, the day before erev Rosh Hashana. We were very close and it's fair to say that she was the most stable and loving presence in my life for much of it. So, it was only natural that I would want to name a girl after her.

However: not so simple. For one thing, she wasn't technically my grandmother, being my grandfather's second wife (she married him in 1952, so was the only grandmother I'd ever known); and for another thing, being not Jewish, her given name was Maria Terez. Our last name is about as Jewish as it gets. Can you imagine? Maria Teresa Goldwasserberg? (I'm making that up, but it's close.) She might stand out a little in the Bais Yaakov.

So we (I) hemmed and hawed and pondered and considered and looked through baby name books again and again. I knew I couldn't really name the baby for my grandmother, in the sense of using her exact name, nor would there really be a point, since the idea there is it being a z'chus for the person's neshama. But I could certainly name in zecher of my grandmother, so that's what I tried to do. Eventually I came up with a name with a certain level of linguistic similarity, with a meaning that I thought she would have liked, and something that she would have been able to pronounce and not found weird.

My grandmother was born in Hungary 1924, the oldest of four girls, so it was pretty inevitable that she got named Maria Terez (as it was inevitable that the rest of the girls should be Erzsebet, Margit, and Katalin. You can count traditional Hungarian girls' names on the fingers of two hands.) The usual nickname for Maria would be Marika, but for some reason, my grandmother got tagged Mariska. She HATED this. Her elementary school report cards (which were perfect, by the way, and which she never threw out) said Mariska. People in town called her Auntie Mariska. She grumbled. "Why Mariska? It should be Marika. What good is Mariska? It's not a normal name." So when she moved to the nursing home, after 81 years of being Mariska, she just never said that name to anyone. She just said Maria, and they called her Marika, which was exactly what she had wanted all along. It only took her 81 years to get there.

So for purposes of this blog, the baby can be Marika; and if one day she decides she'd like it to be something different, she can tell me, and that will be fine with me.


Yasmin said...

Lovely. I like the story, I think your grandmother would have liked your solution, and both of baby's names are lovely.

I shall now stop calling her Agatha, which I never liked anyway (but then, that was the point).

LC said...

And what if one of the boys decide to not like *their* blog names? (just asking) :)