Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What's in a Name?

Kia ora. Ko Katarina Arihi toku ingoa. 

Catherine Alice, this is the name that I belong to. 

I am named after both my Grandmothers: Dorothy Edith Catherine and Alice Elizabeth. From one I learned how to be feisty and forthright, from the other, gentleness and faithfulness. 

I inherited Dorothy's quick feet and desire to create, and Alice's dark curls and love for white pearls. Turns out I inherited more than just their names. 

I must confess, when I was a kid I didn't like my name all that much. Mostly, the only people I knew with names like mine were old ladies (my old man's old lady and my old lady's old lady, and some queen who Henry VIII disposed of). Interestingly, the name printed on the back of my Year 13 Leavers Jersey was 'Nana' - for various other reasons. 

Alice lived ‘til she was in her 90’s and it looks like Dorothy is headed that way too. It has been a privilege to observe both my Nana’s in their old age. From them I have learned something of what it means to be human, to be vulnerable and fragile and to embrace that rather than avoid it. 

I don’t think it was easy for either of them, though; these two strong and staunch women who lived rurally, ran households and raised a handful of children each. Their husbands worked hard, honoured their wives beautifully, and died well before anyone was ready. 

I don't mind my name all that much now, though. At graduation I was told that the name printed on my certificate sounded elegant and important. But now, my name is more than just a name it is a reminder of my heritage and the people I belong to. 

Catherine Alice, these are the names that I belong to. 

Ko Katarina Arihi toku ingoa. Kia ora. 

This photo was taken on my 15th birthday, two days after I broke my nose, 
so please don't look too closely. 
Mum made me pose for the picture. I'm glad she did.