Jenna is the woman when it comes to name posts, I love reading all of hers and would've been content to be the happy reader and not write any of my own, but Fred's name is sort of extra-special, so I am going for it just this once. It's not that I don't like the other kids' names-- on the contrary I think they're great-- but aside from our miscarried baby, none of the kids' names have felt especially inspired, except for little Fred.
It's kind of funny, since he likely shares his name with a much higher percentage of men over 80 than children, and I've gotten more than a few audible chuckles from strangers when they ask me what his name is. "Fred? (Audible chuckle), you mean like Frederick?" And then I answer "Nope, just 'Fred'!" and they say something about how cute it is, to save themselves from their little blunder. It's great, I don't mind at all. I know that it's a little old school and different, but every time I tell someone his name, I love the part where I get to tell them who he is named for-- Mike's grandfather, Fred Hahn.
He wasn't Frederick, he was just Fred.
Last year Mike's grandmother "Gigi" passed away. Fred was her husband. I blogged about her after her death because her death was the hardest grandparent death I had experienced. I loved my grandparents and I was very sad when they passed, but I grew to have a relationship with Gigi that I just never had with my own grandparents. You can read more about it if you're really interested.
A few months after she died we found out that we were expecting, and I knew immediately that if it was a boy his name should be Fred. I never knew Mike's grandpa-- he died when Mike was 8 years old, and he himself was only 65-- but after Gigi's death I felt this intense gratitude for her and Fred.
I wasn't dead set on the middle name initially. I was thinking maybe Fred Escriva for this Saint who I love, or Fred Alvaro for this man who was beatified the year before we found out we were expecting. But then, in the months leading up to getting pregnant, I began reading this book, which is chock full of writings from saints, particularly Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
Mike was always pretty set on Bernard because he has had a special devotion to him ever since he took a class during his doctoral work that focused on him. I remember reading a paper that he wrote about Bernard's spirituality and being almost moved to tears, a marked difference from my typical glazed eyes and confused brain whenever I read most of Mike's theology papers. When Joe was born Mike and I had some head-butting in the hospital about whether Joe would be Joseph Bernard or Joseph Pio. I won, obv.
So Bernard was making his way in my mind and heart, and then Mike had a conversation with his dad after Gigi's death-- after we had found out we were expecting-- where he discovered that his grandpa Fred's mother, who was actually a devout Catholic, belonged to Saint Bernard's parish.
I was entirely sold.
The only part that was left was to find out the gender, and since we were so decided on the boy name, I was even more hopeful that the old Y chromosome would dominate. It did and the baby was officially named.
I might have known about it when Mike's grandma died (if I did I forgot entirely), but it is the icing on the name-cake. About a week ago I was in Mike's office checking out his calendar to be up on his opening of the school year commitments, and I saw that August 20th was the anniversary of Gigi's death. I knew that August 20th was Saint Bernard's feast day, but had not yet put it together that his grandmother died that day. Of course when I excitedly let Mike know, he looked at me like I was a little bit crazy for not having realized it sooner.
But wait! There's more!
Before posting this I ran it by Mike to check all my facts and he let me know that when his dad became Catholic, the parish that we was received in was none other than Saint Bernard's. Mike also let me know that he has, for years, considered Saint Bernard an unofficial patron of the Hahn family. Obviously I'm a little slow on the uptake, oh well.
Either way, all of it has further solidified for me that little Fred Bernard's name is exactly what it should be, and for me it is a tribute, an expression of devotion and a consolation. not bad for a baby name.
Saint Bernard of Clairveaux, pray for us.