The Gift of a Name

Generous. Mother. Impoverished. Loving. Widow. Grandma. Debilitated. Hard-working.

What's in a name? Why do labels exist? Do they have any true significance in a person's life?

We called her Mom and Grandma. What a privilege it was to do so!

She died just over a year ago. We've taken these past months to reflect on Mom's life journey and what she meant to our family.

Through the years, Mom shared tales of growing up during the Great Depression. She was the middle child with four siblings. They were known as one of the poorest families in their community. There was some shame attached to that reputation, of course.

Mom was often treated unfairly, especially when she was young. In fact, she was verbally and emotionally abused by the ones who should have protected her. "Dumb" was a common title for her while she was growing up, although she very intelligent indeed.

I admired my mother-in-law immensely, because she didn't allow her harsh beginnings, nor the tragedies in her adult life, to keep her down.
Even though she was left with scars, those experiences made her more compassionate and resilient than most people.

Gratefully, Mom had many joyful memories of her long life too. We share some of those and they are even more precious to us now.

There are numerous adjectives that I could use to characterize this woman who gave so much of herself to so many, especially her family. Wise, patient, funny, gentle and creative are just a few.

Incessant illness and pain were Mom's reality in her last years of life. Even so, she was an example to us of perseverance and courage.

We learned something very significant a few months before my mother-in-law left this earth: the baby girl who was due to arrive soon would be named after her.

Mom shed tears of joy when she heard the news. She told everyone she knew! She felt so honored; so appreciative! It was an unexpected tribute that made her smile in the midst of her suffering. What an indescribable gift!

Baby Audra arrived three weeks before her Great Grandma Audra had to leave us. Someday she'll know the importance of her name, so lovingly gifted to her before her birthday.

How is it that so many families welcome a new child near the time when another beloved relative dies? This phenomenon never ceases to amaze me. 

This part of the song in "The Circle of Life", says it all:
It's the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
'Til we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life

Just recently, I learned that the origin of Audra is Old English. It means noble strength. Oh yes, perfect!

Beautiful Baby Audra, you are just now starting to walk and say a few words. Welcome to life and to our family! You have quite a role model to follow.
We all do.


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