14 November 2010


It's hard to believe that we picked our baby names back in January (and agreed on them so quickly!) and then spent a good 8 months not knowing whether we were having a Julia or a Sergio. Now that we have our Julia Minerva, I am thinking a lot about where we got those names that we chose so many months (eons!) ago ...

Our Julia is named after two Julias in my family. The first was my great grandmother - Julia Wesson Taylor - my Mema's mother.

Julia #1 - she had red hair - her nickname was "Pet" - Mema says she made the best pickles

"Mama Taylor," as she is commonly known, died in 1971, but her memory is very strong in our family even today. My Mema loves to quote her still ("Anything that you do, do with all your might. Things done by halves are never done right.") and we all frequently recount the most famous story of her dogged determination: when her husband died in 1929 and left Mama Taylor with her 7 children to raise, someone came to take some of the kids away, assuming she couldn't provide for them herself; she told them that no one was taking her children and firmly encouraged them to get off her property. We love that story of the strong-willed matriarch of the family.

The second Julia is the one I know best - Julia Ophelia Akins (née Gandy) - my mother.

Julia #2 (a.k.a. Judy) with Julia #3 (a.k.a. Jujube) on day #1

She was named after her grandmother (the first Julia) though she's most commonly known as Judy. Just as my Mema wanted to name her daughter after her mother, I wanted to name my daughter after my mother ... my mother who is strong and warm, smart and insightful, humble and wise. Truly one of the wisest people I know.

Which brings us to the next namesake, another figure who embodies wisdom - Minerva.

The mosaic of Minerva in the Library of Congress in Washington DC during family vacation 2009 - if we'd known we would eventually have a baby and use that name, we'd have taken a better photo.

Minerva was the Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, weaving, crafts, magic, music - or, as we like to tell people, the goddess of all the best stuff. She was the Roman corollary to the Greek goddess Athena, also the goddess of wisdom, and both were represented by owls, symbols of wisdom. (And, as luck would have it, Julia Minerva's mother already had an obsession with owls resulting in two charming owl pillows and an owl onesie for the baby, long before we knew who this baby was.) I have to give credit where it's due here; it was Sergio who suggested that we use this name. I had some misgivings at first, the nature of which I can hardly recall now, now that our aptly named Julia Minerva is here.

Last week at church, we told Canon Sue that our baby's name was "Julia Minerva" and she remarked on the legacy of wisdom that we've bestowed on her. I know Canon Sue was referring to the Minerva name, but I think we've laid it on thick with the two Julias in her history, too. Not just an ancient goddess, but some real life strong, wise women in my family, too. Hope it's not too much to live up to, Julia, but is just enough to inspire.


Sergio said...

What a wonderful post. I'm sharing this with my side of the family, too. Little Julia has quite a legacy.

Anonymous said...

This is a most wonderful little story, should be printed up and framed for Julia's room! Thank you for sharing. JOYCE