My maiden name is German, meaning “to have nothing.” Unlike my married name, my maiden name is unique in that if there is another person with it, we are related. There are few left, actually. My grandfather, Pap-Pap, has two male grandchildren to carry on the name. One looks promising, the other doesn’t. But the name is true in form in how it arrived here over 100 years ago. My family came with nothing, like many others, and continued with nothing until the latter part of the 1950’s. Even then, it was not easy. Sound familiar?
When I think about the translation of my father’s name, I think of legacies. With a name meaning “to have nothing,” the legacy seems clear! When I look at some of the members of my family, I think they believed that was their calling. In a land of opportunity, they choose to have nothing. I find that sad, considering especially how hard my great grandparents worked to make a life for themselves and their families.
It is funny how when you hear of a story from the past, it impresses a change upon you. My father, the first of four, was born in Pennsylvania. That is where my grandfather was raised. He met my French/Irish grandmother in California while playing football for the Navy. After marrying, they lived in Pennsylvania with her father-in-law and his other sons, a new husband and son, and my grandmother found pornography on the table. She took it and threw it in the fire, causing strife between her brother-in-law and her until the day he died. I love that story. Don’t mess with my grandmother.
She may have had nothing, and her name reminds her of that, but she has something else: passion. Her passion for teaching, and now her passion for writing. Publishing a few books and making it into a few magazines. This at 80 years-old.
I think I’ll take that legacy.