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Thursday, February 26, 2009The Tradition
There’s a great tradition on the maternal side of my mother’s family. That side of my family is very big on tradition. The tradition i'm writing about today is particulary touching and sweet. One meant to tie us to past generations and remind us of our roots.
The tradition is as follows, every child that is born into the family carries a first and middle name indicative of our heritage. All names by the way are recycled meaning that we are named after one or more of our ancestors. Ancestors that at one time or another settled in Spain and were very, very, amorous and fertile. For example my real name is in homage to the Spaniard and Basque roots. For those tuning in late, Mia has been my nickname since birth. My sister’s name is a shout out to the Irish and French roots, my brother’s to the Scottish roots, and my mother’s to the Bedouins.
My dad is a Nuyorican (Puerto Rican born in New York) of full blooded Puerto Rican descent. Sadly his family abandonded their culture as soon as they set foot in this country. They are so Americanized that they never bothered to continue their traditions in this country. In fact the newer generations don't even understand Spanish. Still pa is very proud of his roots.
My generation on mom's side so far has been very prolific in adding branches to the family tree but they are also Americanized and as such many have forgone the tradition and that worries my mother. As the family historian she worries that future generations will be ignorant of our history.
One of my friends is having a baby and I was discussing the names she had in mind for the little guy with mom when she brought up her family’s naming tradition. Mom expressed her wish that I continue it and just as her grandmother had selected her name, and her great-great-grandmother had chosen my grandmother’s name mom asked if she could select the name of my first born daughter when the time came.
“What would you like to name her?” I asked.
“I was very close to my great-grandmother as a little girl. Remember I told you she was 103 years old when she died? “
I nodded my headed remembering that my mom had told me it was at her feet that mom had first learned of their complex roots and history.
“Isa, right?” I asked.
“That was her nickname, her real name was Isabella de los Ángeles Delissalde ”
“Hey Delissalde! I know that name!”
“Yeah, it's my aunt's name the one we call ya-ya, it’s French.”
"How the hell did she get a nickname like ya-ya from Delissade?"
“ I have no idea. Anywho I’d like your baby's name to be Isabel de los Ángeles.”
I rolled the name around my tongue for a minute. I couldn’t front I liked it. Besides I’d always been fond of the name Isabella. I thought about the name meant in English.
“oh that is pretty…Isabel of the angels. Wow. It sounds better in Spanish ma.
“Yeah it does. You can call her Isa or Izzy for short.”
My boyfriend who until that moment had been quietly listening to our conversation voiced his opinion of the name. He didn’t like it.
“That’s a horrible name.” he said
“This coming from a man whose sister’s name sounds like a nursery rhyme. Clary Mary what the hell is that Sounds like she was named by Dr. Seuss.” she shot back.
“I don't know what my mother was thinking with that name.” He said he prefered a Japanese name for the child he planned on having with me someday.
"Are you of Japanese ancestry?" she asked.
"I see." she said,and to me those 2 words spoke volumes. Honor your own history seemed to be what she'd really wanted to say.
“Still I wouldn’t name my daughter Isabella de los Ángeles.” he sulked.
Mom flashed him a mischevious look with those intimidating black eyes of hers, “and who said that you’re the one that's going to be the father?”
The look on his face was priceless. I couldn’t help but laugh especially since I knew mom was just messing with him. She'd rubbed her thumb across the cleft in her chin, a tell tale sign that she was suppressing a smile. He blushed and then started back pedaling at tremendous speed.
“No, no, I didn’t mean any disrespect m’am. Mia’s right it’s family history. That stuff is really important I wish my family was into its history like yours is. We don’t know squat about ours.” He said.
Mom arched an eyebrow, “Oh, really?” she said her voice dripping with mockery.
My boyfriend broke his eyes away from hers first. He was shook. I bit my lower lip and watched a dimple form in her cheek. Yeah she was going to burst out in laughter any minute now. She turned her head and pretended to look out the window while she twirled one of her auburn ringlets around her finger. Yeah she was defintely teasing him.Finally her shoulders started shaking and she turned around and let loose a peal of laughter. My poor beau didn’t know what to make of it.
“I’m sorry honey.” She said, “I didn’t mean to scare you like that. The naming of a child is a personal. It's just that in my family it really is a family decision.I was just hoping Mia would continue the tradition. I really am sorry I didn't mean to scare you.”
"You're mean." he said releasing a sigh of relief.
"Na, I just got a wicked sense of humor plus I love seeing you blush." she said as she patted his hand.
I looked at my mom and clued her in on something I’d decided awhile ago.
“I love the name and will continue the tradition ma and I’ll make sure my kids do too. As a matter of fact I plan on giving all of my kids your maiden name as part of their name no matter who I marry.”
My mom has a very unsual maiden name even is Spain it is rare. Documentation has shown that the name is of Celtic origin and that after several generations in Spain the Mc suffix was dropped from it. That would also explain the staggering amount of redheads, auburns, and strawberry blondes in my family. I shot my boyfriend a look daring him to say anything derogative about my choice. Unlike my mom I wasn’t playing around. My mom smiled she hadn’t expected that. Seriously the woman is priceless and her entire name deserves to be handed down from generation to generation and remembered as part of their history,after all she does manage to keep this generation on our toes with her sense of humor and wit.
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