Saturday, September 20, 2014

Family History

This weekend started with me researching baby name spellings online. I'm not pregnant or anything but I can't be the only one with boy and girl names picked out since forever. I've had this girl name in mind for a long time and it's of Russian origin and therefore originally written in Cyrillic. So transliteration  can often result different spelling variations of names from language to language. I have been given a somewhat hard time about this name from the few people I've shared it with; no one will be able to pronounce it, she will have to always explain it, etc. Well I first heard it when there was a girl in my 4th grade class named it and none of us, nor the teacher had any problems saying her name correctly, so I'm not really worried about it. In any event, after researching it I found out it is a name used in Lithuania and it just so happens that my grandmother is Lithuanian and I immediately felt like this was the spelling I was meant to use. The only problem with the spelling is it uses a diacritic to signal the way it's pronounced which means it will forever be mispronounced in the US and diacritic marks aren't printed on official documents in the US so I don't know.

All of this led to me reading wikipedia articles about Lithuania, Lithuanian people, Lithuanian language and Baltic languages and I thought maybe I should learn Lithuanian.  That itself is nothing new as I'm fairly sure I've wanted to learn every language out there at one time. But then I was driving home on the beltway and I was driving behind a car whose license plate read VILNIUS. Coincidence???? Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania. I got home and was googling Lithuania some more when I decided to google my grandmother's maiden name, which led me to her obituary.

My grandmother died while I was living in Spain and I honestly don't think it really hit me that she is gone until this evening. That I can't ask her why her parents immigrated to the US (a better life I'm sure, but still). I can't ask her, did her parents meet here or in Lithuania? How old were they? Did they keep in touch with their family in Lithuania? Who else came here besides them? Did she grow up with a huge extended family in Massachusetts or just her parents and siblings? Did her parents speak Lithuanian at home? I remember her teaching me Lithuanian phrases, specifically something to the effect of "shut up cabbage face" and I repeated it to my dad who was none too happy. I can hear her voice in my mind and I'm scared it will slip away. And so I'm struggling to get all my thought's down on this digital paper here, so I can remember later how she made me ramen noodles after school with shrimp, and how she was such a giving, thoughtful person. My parents separated when I was young and later my younger sister was born. Her father died when she was an infant and she never met my mother's parents. She shares a birthday with my grandmother and my grandmother would visit us and she would always remember my sister, she would send her cards on her birthday with little checks in them just like she did me and my brother. My grandmother was an extraordinary person. Tonight I miss her so much. 

1 comment:

Vicky said...

Well after reading this post I promise to never give you a hard time about your choice in Russian names! Hugs, sweetest post ever. But.... maybe I'm lying I will still probably give you a little bit of a hard time, just a little.