Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Iconography of Anna

When I was pregnant with my daughter and wrestling over a name I had this feeling that the being inside had roots so I searched the family tree. My first thought was the two elder sisters, Marta and Rose of my own grandmother who both died of diphtheria almost a year apart to the day. They were three and four years old. I thought of my great grandmother and the pain she must have felt to loose her only two children (at the time) within a year of each other, and how scary it must have been to be pregnant again with her son Rudy and then later with my grandmother Edith. My great grandfather, a stained glass artist, designed two windows in their memory in a small church in Bayridge Brooklyn, where they lived and worked. My great-grandmother, Katharine was part of one of my favorite memories from my childhood. I would sit with her and sew for hours on end, making doll clothes for my collection. She had this closet with boxes and boxes of hats. I loved to take them down and play dress up. I think the boxes themselves intrigued me.

Kenny's grandmother Rhea, lost her mother at an early age to an industrial accident forcing her to quit school at the tender age of 12 to work and help support the family. They lived in a lower east side tenement. Her mother was a seamstress. It was Rhea that asked me if I would do her the honor of naming my daughter after her mother, Anna. Rhea and I had a special relationship. She was a big part of my young family's life. I would visit her in New Jersey often for lunch, something the kids loved. As my daughter Anna grew up I realized that her name was truly an honor.

As Anna grew I was reminded continuously about the biblical roots to her name, and the roots to the people she was named after, Anna Gross and Katharine Sickenger, both very strong willed, hard working, independent women for their time.  I was reminded about the presence of something greater and often told about the significance of the story of the Presentation at the Temple.

Graduations, like births, are one of those iconic life moments. I think how back 5 years ago when Anna let everyone know she was going to Temple, and the response was "for what?". They were not referring to higher education but to the service of her father's religion. On Thursday, we experienced our own iconic version of Anna at Temple

 and I realized once again how I could be both happy and sad at the same time. Anna, we are so proud of you! Go out and be that teacher, librarian, CSA farmer, environmentalist, explorer, and homesteader that you would like to be! Climb mountains, forge rivers, conquer the world and write about it! You are already a huge part of (h)istory so don't succumb to the pressure to be part of History. Just go out and do. I found this quote by an author and potter that I have been inspired by today as I looked to encourage my friend Kelly in her run around Pittsburgh. I am passing it along to you as well now go and apply it to your life.

 "The sand in the hourglass flows only one way. Don’t waste precious time chasing someone else’s definition of success. Live your life with purpose now. Look for the things that inspire you, trouble you, make you feel most alive, and trust in those things to shape your future. They will give you all your heart could ever wish for." 
 Bill Strickland

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