What is in a name

April 2013
What Is in a Name

On our second or perhaps third date my husband took me to a store that sold antique and exotic furniture and told me to start picking what I liked because he was sure we would marry. Sure enough, ten months later we were husband and wife.

I was still in grad school so, while starting a family was not a immediate goal, selecting names for our future children seemed the perfect thing to do. After all, who knew how long it could take and whether we’d find names we would both agree on.

We started discussing boy’s names first. My husband bears the name of his father and his grandfather, but I did I not care to continue this tradition. So we went through a list of names that were reflective of our personalities and our cultures and almost immediately came up with Urbano, which coincidentally was my husband’s great grandfather’s name. Given that we are both trained as architects we thought the name was perfect!

For girl’s names we considered many – from the medieval Beatrice and Allegra, to the simple and pious Pia, to Ornella (inspired by Italian poet D’Annunzio and meaning flowering ash tree). In the end we decided on Paulina Delia Noemi in honor of three women who were fundamental in helping us become who we are, and in honor of my brother Paolo who has been my companion and fan since I was 20 months old.

My grandmother was registered as Paola when she was born and baptized as Paolina. When very young, she suffered an injury which left her with a leg 2″ shorter than the other. Despite this she biked, walked, hiked, and danced! She was very beautiful and was an accomplished seamstress who taught me how to make my own patterns and sew when I was 16 years old. Delia was Orestes’ beloved grandmother and, coincidentally, also an accomplished seamstress. When she was young her father moved the whole family to Saranac Lake in upstate NY and she learned to ride a sled, walk through knee deep snow, and appreciate nature and the outdoors in general. She was an accomplished huntress and rode horses as if she was born on top of one! Noemi was her sister, she trained and practiced as an architect when women rarely studied past middle school, and she was the Cuban version of the hostess with the mostest. Her grace, good manners, and social commentaries made her unique. Needless to say she had oodles of talent and a temper to match. Unfortunately they are no longer with us, but I am sure that they are watching over us as we embark on this journey.

We are very fortunate that Paolo is very much with us though. He is the the tall and skinny one in a family full of short and portly people… He has beauty, brains, a wicked sense of humor, and a gentle and caring soul. He is talented, tenacious, very loyal, and has been my companion, my friend, my accomplice, and my fan for over four decades. For this and much more I can’t think of a better name for our daughter. Welcome to the family Paulina!


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