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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's in a Name?

Mary Kay writes...

Aunt Kay was my grandmother's older sister. She became the one that most of the girl descendants of the Miller clan were named after in some form. We have Kathy, Kathleen, Kesti, Mary Kay, Jean Kay, Kathryn - and that's just in the first two generations. I have no idea how many of our children are named for her - probably up in the dozens!

At least we weren't named for her sister (my grandmother). Her name was Gertrude - a little old-fashioned for me, though Trudy is a nice name. But her middle name was Mary, so there are a few of those running around. And I am the lucky one who was named after both, hence the double name, Mary Kay.

The funny thing about all this is that Aunt Kay didn't particularly like her name, and was dumbfounded that all the girls were being named for her. I can remember hearing her groan about yet another "Kathryn" in the family (one of the great-grand kids as I recall).

Well, now I'm a Grandmother! No, neither Chip nor Ken made a mistake. In Ghanaian culture, your family is not just blood relations, but all those around your family - in your village or friends of your parents and grandparents. One of my friends here is the Headmaster of the Konkori Methodist Primary School, Mr. Samuel Kwarteng. I first visited his school last fall, and helped them by testing the water quality in their hand dug well. We found bacterial contamination, so I sent him chlorine tablets and instructions on how to disinfect the well. And I attended the school's opening day (for the new term) in early March.

But imagine my surprise when I got a call this weekend telling me that his wife just gave birth to a “bouncing baby girl”. The word “baby” is almost never heard on its own in Ghana; it seems to ALWAYS be qualified with the adjective “bouncing”. So what happens if your baby is not bouncing, but sick or something?

Anyway, he asked me to name the baby, a real honor! And he calls me grandmother. Can't I be the auntie? It doesn't sound so old! So now there is little Ama Katherine Kwarteng, or Ama Kate for short. Ama is the girl name for Saturday-born in Twi. And of course, Katherine for me (mom misspelled it on my birth certificate)and by extension for Aunt Kay. Somehow, I don't think Aunt Kay ever envisioned that!

I haven't seen her yet, but pictures are on the way. I'll post them when I get them. And I can't wait until I can get back to Kumasi to meet her in person!