August 30, 2007

What's in a Name?

Before we ever even conceived Hattie Ruth, Sean and I were already thinking about names for our first-born-to-be. It didn't take long for us to decide that our first born daughter would bear the names of two beautiful, Christian women who played such strong roles in our lives.

Hattie Christine is my mother's mother. She was number 11 of 12 kids born to a strong Catholic couple who made a living working a farm as share-croppers. I know that they were poor, but I don't think I can really grasp how poor they were as I sit comfortably in my air-conditioned house, typing away on the computer for sport while my hubby relaxes on the couch watching a football game.

Hattie's father died when she was a young girl, so just a few days short of her 16th birthday, she married my grandfather, probably partly because my great-grandmother needed to marry her off for financial purposes. I remember her telling me that when she got married she and my grandfather had 13 dollars and a bucket to their name. She and my grandfather had 7 children and lived on a farm that they worked as share croppers. They never owned their own house or tilled their own land. They didn't have much at all, but God always provided for them.

Hattie was tough. When I picture her, I always picture her hands. They were rough and wrinkled and looked like a set of man's hands minus their size. I never saw her just sitting around. She was always working, whether it was in the kitchen cooking or outside on the farm. She enjoyed life, though. She would laugh and tell me stories of her childhood and my mother's childhood. She enjoyed a cold beer on her porch swing in the evenings with company. And she could tease and joke around with the best of them.

Most importantly, though, Hattie was the godly woman that I pray my daughter will grow up to be. My grandmother spent much of her days on her knees. She had the most calloused knees. As a young girl, I can remember lying in her bed hot because she had no a/c while she knelt by the bedside and prayed her prayers in Polish. Gosh, how I wish I could go back to one of those moments! She went to church every day to receive communion, and when she moved to a retirement community, she brought along as many women as she could fit in her big green car. Her heart was always fixed on Christ. I know she wasn't perfect, that she was a sinner, but she knew that, too. She was the most humble, giving woman, always putting herself last, and I never once heard her complain or gripe about anything, even when she started to get sick.

She died right when Sean and I started dating more seriously my sophmore year in college, so he never got to meet her.

We named our daughter Hattie because our hope is that she will be like her great-grandmother, a woman who didn't have a lot of "things" but had more gifts than imaginable. I think about her often, especially now that I have my Hattie. I know that she is praying for our family. She knows we have our work cut out for us. Afterall, she spent her life trying to glorify our Lord each day, and she still found time to keep a husband, tend a farm, and raise seven children.
So I think, if the day comes where a child makes fun of my Hattie for her name, which will probably happen, I will have a lot of reasons to tell her why she should feel nothing but proud and privileged to bear such a name.
To be continued......part deux - Ruth!


Missy said...

That was beautiful :)

So Christine is on both sides of the family huh? I smell a name for D2...

The Jasters said...

What a sweet & touching post! The way you described your grandmother makes me think of mine:o) What wonderful examples we have!

Wisdom From the Pope

“The inalienable dignity of every human being and the rights which flow from that dignity - in the first place the right to life and the defense of life - are at the heart of the church's message." Pope John Paul ended his address, saying: "In spite of divisions among Christians, 'all those justified by faith through baptism are incorporated into Christ...brothers and sisters in the Lord.'" Pope John Paul 2