Today is the feast day of Saint Anne. The saints are very important to Catholics and often a baby is named for the saint on whose feast day it was born. Luckily for me my parents did not follow that tradition or I might have been named Secundia, Eugyppius, Ceowulf, or Ephysius – all saints whose feast day falls on January 15, my birthday.
My parents did, however, carry on another tradition in my Italian family, which is naming the firstborn daughter and son after the paternal grandparents. My brother was hence named Joseph. I was given the name Anne, after my father’s mother.
I hated my name growing up. It was so plain and drab. At least my parents gave me an “e” at the end of my name. I like the “e.” I don’t like the spelling “Ann;” something seems even more drab about that. I still get upset if someone leaves off my “e” inadvertently.
Even though I wasn’t crazy about the name, I adored my grandmother and I loved that I was named after her. She was a strong woman, a no-nonsense woman who always spoke her mind. (I’m not sure how much my mother liked that trait, though.) She was the matriarch.
Over the years I’ve grown into her name and into her shoes. I’m still not happy about the name but I’ve stopped complaining because I believe that I chose it before I was born. So there’s no one to blame but me!
Since my grandmother and I shared a name we also shared a feast day, July 26. I always spoke to my grandmother on this day. It was our special day, the day that honored Saint Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, Mary.
I’m glad the girls got to know my grandmother, however briefly, before her passing. Her family values remain, as does her spirit. I ask her to sit beside me in doctor’s offices as I wait for test results as she did that this week with me. I can hear her speaking to me, telling me to stay strong. “Miss Nan,” she called me.
My family was with my grandmother when she passed. When I got home that evening I went to the bathroom to wash my face. My two-year old daughter, Emily, came into the room and I picked her up. “Why are you crying,” she asked. “Oh honey,” I said, “Mom-Mom went to heaven today.”
Emily looked at me confused. “No she didn’t, Mommy. She’s right there next to you,” she said as she pointed over my shoulder. “Mom-Mom is right there. Don’t you see her?”
Yes, Emily. I see her now – in all that I do.
The title of matriarch has been passed to my mother, Annette, who also shares this feast day. My daughter Alanna also uses this day as the feast day of her saint since there is no Saint Alanna and her name contains a derivation of Anne.
I’ve already “spoken” to my grandmother. I’ll call my mother in a few minutes to wish her a happy feast day. And as for Alanna, forget it, she’s at a music festival dancing the day away.