First of all, George Smith is her great grandpa, Amy’s father, and he, from all accounts was a good man, a farmer-scientist, and dearly loved by his wife Portia. It’s important to me that our daughter feel connected to one of the good men in her family. George and it’s feminine form, Georgia, both mean “tiller of the soil”, which is literally what George did for a living. I also like to think that, metaphorically, being a tiller of the soil is a great legacy because it can mean preparing the “ground” for new life and stirring things up!
Now, Georgia O’Keefe is also one of my favorite artists and I think it’s a special thing to be named after a man and a woman because it’s balanced and shows that what’s important is to, first of all, be a good person before God, regardless of gender. Also, Georgia O’Keefe was very strong and bravely painted what she saw no matter how the art world scoffed and belittled the bold and innovative vision of a woman. She has been very inspiring to me, personally, through her art work. I feel a connection to her seeing the little flowers as huge and important and the colors as primary and important and so deep. I’ve had a quote from her up on my wall since high school that’s always made me feel better. It’s : “Nobody sees a flower, really. Because we haven’t time, and to see takes time- like to have a friend takes time.” I’ve always been one to stick my face close up to flowers and look closely, and it was so wonderful to find a kindred spirit in this. Also, when I feel like being a woman is not appreciated in my life and in society, I am comforted and galvanized by her boldness and the love in each of her paintings that she so daringly expressed. I like the way she stuck to the essentials and made the simple the most beautiful thing in the world. I hope my daughter can find strength in the women that have come before her, leading the way to speaking loudly in many different ways about what’s important.
On an aesthetic note, the word Georgia conjures up such a sense of depth and lusciousness, like the word “gorgeous”. I like the way it rolls off your tongue. I also associate it in my mind with the state, which I love. I only visited Georgia a couple of times, both on teaching trips, but it left a deep impression on me. I was moved by the physical beauty of it’s wilderness- so different from where I grew up. The red dirt against dark green pine trees on rolling hills really struck me as the ideal, it was so beautiful to me that I wondered if there was some deeper connection there. It was like I had been there before, or had come to some ancestral home. The people I met in Georgia, both black and white, were a lot of fun, very warm and direct. I appreciate those qualities very much. You know where you stand, for better or worse. I am also taken by its symbol, the lovely peach. There’s no way out of the whole peach thing if your name is Georgia. I just hope she likes them too. I love fruit, but, of course, you can’t name someone after a fruit! Even I wouldn’t go that far. I’ve also had an intense artistic connection to peaches ever since I had a vision during an art class in college of a huge mural with an enormous peach floating in front of a few bands of color in the sky. It was a very reassuring vision, even if I had no idea how to translate it into a painting on the wall. It was a symbol of wholeness to me- something I had not felt very much of during many troubling years. That feeling of wholeness and inner health is a very important thing I would like my daughter to feel connected to.
So all that rolled up is the reason for the name Georgia, at least to me. Billy might have his own reasons.
The rose is our symbol, Billy and mine, and a part of our relationship and marriage somehow. We gave each other roses from the beginning of our “courtship” and have so far always grown and appreciated miniature roses together. We really like yellow roses, especially if they fade to orange or pink in the middle and a delicate scent- not too overpowering. So Rose is her legacy from the two of us since she is the flower and fruit of our lives together. It carries with it all of our tender love for her. And doesn’t it go nicely with Georgia? Georgia Rose. I wonder if there is a species of rose with that name?
This is her Bahá’í name- not that she has to have one, but we want her to. We want her to feel inspired and blessed by being named after a brave and steadfast Bahá’í such as Maryam. She can always turn to her namesake for assistance in prayer. Maryam was an early Bahá’í in Iran. She, along with Navvab, Bahá’u’lláh’s wife, tended to Bahá’u’lláh and nursed Him back to relative health after He was released from the Síyah-Chal. Maryam was married to a doctor, and we can guess that knowledge she had gleaned from him helped her to help Bahá’u’lláh. Her husband, however, was embarrassed by Bahá’u’lláh, even though he was related to Him, and renounced all ties to Him publicly. He prevented Maryam from ever attaining His presence again, but she was firm in her faith to the end, despite the bitter disappointment of being separated from her Lord. When Bahá’u’lláh sojourned to the mountains of Sulaymaniyyih, He wrote Tablets to her which are unique in their tone among His Writings, according to Adib Taherzadeh in The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Only a portion of one is translated into English at this time. He gave her the title, The Crimson Leaf. In my mind, she endured the terrible hardship of being kept away from Bahá’u’lláh by the laws that kept her under the domination of her husband. Her courage in remaining steadfast in the face of a family that rejected Bahá’u’lláh is a great example of inner conviction and, I’m sure, daily guidance and assistance from God. I hope that, as she grows, our daughter will not feel the oppression of Maryam’s family, but the strong tie between Maryam and her Lord that kept her faith alive despite difficult hardships. Also, she was able to provide a unique service to Bahá’u’lláh that we only know a little bit about, but which led to her everlasting glory and honor.
Miriam is also a biblical name, originally meaning “Sea of Bitterness”, which belonged to Moses’ storied sister.