Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Consider the Lilies

In my matriarchal career, I’ve broken traditions on both sides of our family. Husband’s family, for instance, had only produced one male child per generation for a long time. We’ve two sons. On my side, I’m the baby girl of a baby girl of a baby girl, and maybe longer than that. Our youngest is a boy.

Most of my baby girl grandmothers were “accidents” -- those late in life children born years after her youngest sibling. So this baby girl grandmother, for her first six years, was known only by the name of Baby. It wasn’t until she was six and started a few years of schooling that she needed another name at all. So her mother said to her, “To go to school, you need to have a name. What would you like your name to be?” Her favorite of her mother’s friends was named Lily, and so the child took that name for herself also.

I never got to meet any of my matriarchal grandmothers, but because of my mother’s stories of them, they are all alive to me.


madcapmum said...

What an endearing story. Naming my children was so important to me, I just can't imagine leaving it out altogether! She picked well, though, Lily is a favourite of mine.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Lily was the youngest of many, so many I don't know how many. I've seen photographs of all the sisters together and there must be 6 or 7 of them. And of the boys, I can name only two and am not sure how many there were, not having worked out the geneology mostly I think because I have the matriarchal stories. But anyway, after at least 7 children, perhaps the importance of naming them becomes less important.

Sorry about your Lily.

madcapmum said...

Yeah, me too. These things happen.

My husband comes from a community where 8-10 children was average, and there were lots of families that had between 12 and 20! Their family only had five - subfertile, by their neighbours' standards. Of course, a generation later that all changed, and those kids now have the same 2.3 children (or whatever it is) that everyone else in the country has.

Most of the time, I must admit, I have trouble getting the names straight on just two kids, and I keep switching my husband's name with my son, as well!

H. Stallard said...

My maternal grandmother would invariably call me 2 or 3 of her sons or grandkids names before she would finally get to mine. Funny how little things like that stick in your mind about those you loved.

the Contrary Goddess said...

My paternal grandmother did the same, and could go through all 8 grandchildren, along with several of her children's names as well as perhaps sisters' names, before she got to the right one. I definitely do the same.

A friend was visiting today and I called him by one of our son's names, which was also an uncle's name, and I swear it is because he reminds me some of my uncle. Or maybe it was just my usual noun thing where I'm lucky if I can think of any nouns at all.