Friday, May 27, 2016

The story of her name

Winslow Morley.  It's kind of a big name for such a tiny, sweet girl, which is why we've been calling her Winnie.

Her middle name is after her four-greats grandma, whose name was Lady Jane Anne Morley.  Her first name has been handed down to many of the beautiful women on my mom's side as a middle name.  We almost used Anne (we [fine, I] hesitated sharing her name at first because we [I] still weren't certain), but I've just always loved the sound of Morley.  Lady Jane was a duchess in England who fell in love with her Irish gardener (insert a muffled Victorian gasp.  No title!  No money!  IRISH!  The horror!) and was disowned by her parents after she eloped with him.  They came to America and had 19 children.  Because love.  Love wins.

Now for her first name.  I think there's something really special about siblings having a letter or sound to link their names, probably because I grew up with that with my sister and always liked it.  No matter how old they grow, no matter what last name the girls are given someday, they can still list each other's names together and be connected.  Waverly, Wilder and Winslow.  With a mama named Whitney and a nana named Wendy and great-grandpa named William and more.

Nearly two years ago we were traveling in Cape Cod for a cousin's wedding and we kept seeing the name "Winslow."  It had such a pretty ring to it, and I looked up the meaning and saw the origins are linked to meaning friendship and to hills.  I loved the friendship part (what is life without friendship?) and the nature connection since that was a link to both Waverly and Wilder.  I have also always loved Winslow Homer's works of art, especially since so many of his paintings are of farms and the seaside.  It felt like another connection to my family and to my artist mama.  I told Lenny, "Winslow.  It's so pretty.  If we ever have a third...and if she were a girl...I think I would want to name her Winslow."

Fast-forward a year and we were shocked to see the second line on the pregnancy test.  Through all those long months of horrendous nausea I just kept scrolling through names, trying to call my baby by name in my heart.  It helped me feel connected and excited on the days when I just thought I wouldn't make it.  There were so many options we loved for a boy, but for a girl?  We just kept coming back to Winslow.

But we didn't feel certain until I was re-reading a beloved Narnia book, the one that happens to be my husband's favorite, called A Horse and His Boy.  One of the characters is a horse named Hwin (pronounced "Win") who is humble, kind, and loving.  And there is this scene, this beautiful scene, where after all the characters' trials suddenly there is Aslan (the Jesus-figure of Narnia) in all of his lionly, scary, beautiful splendor and instead of running like any horse would be be expected,

"...There was about a second of intense silence.

Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.

'Please,' she said, 'you're so beautiful.  You may eat me if you like.  I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else."

'Dearest daughter,' said Aslan, planting a lion's kiss on her twitching, velvety nose, 'I knew you would not be long in coming to me.  Joy shall be yours.'"

It's one of my favorite moments in all literature.

Oh, sweet Winnie baby, but that you would know the joy of running to Jesus.  You, and your sweet, name, are so precious to us.  May your name remind you of your roots and where to always run first.  

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