What’s In A Name?

di Grazia      I am finding out it’s a lot.

Recently, picking up Antonio and Crystel at a community education event, I was told, “I asked Antonio if he was Italian with a name like di Grazia.”

Standing next to me, Antonio says to the adult coordinator for at least the second time that day, “No, it’s Spanish.”

I didn’t say anything. But yes, she’s right kid. It’s Italian.

DSCN0725Jody, Antonio, Crystel, and I don’t have a drop of Italian blood in us.

At the time, Jody and I were choosing a family name, I was just thinking how pretty di Grazia looked and sounded. It seemed fancier than de Grazia. It seemed more different. It seemed like ‘us’.

I wasn’t thinking of the ramifications the name di Grazia would have for our family, the inquiries we would face. Even now, I am asked from time to time if I’m Italian.

No, and I don’t much like pasta, either.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdi Grazia means “of Grace.” Jody and I were creating a family from grace. We didn’t have this family yet. We didn’t even know how this family was going to come together. Had we known we were going to adopt two infants from Guatemala we might have chosen the more typical Spanish spelling, de Grazia.

But, probably not. We had already decided that we liked di Grazia.

When I first realized that the last name di Grazia posed a hurdle was when Crystel was three years old, eye to eye with a goat. And, I seriously wondered if she could overcome the hurdle.

DSCN0210We were camping at a campground that had, amongst other things, a petting zoo, pool, and horses.

After visiting the petting zoo, Jody and I took separate routes back to our campsite. When we got there I looked at her and she looked at me.

“Where’s Crystel?”

“I thought she was with you.”

“I thought she had gone with you and Antonio in the car.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth of us jumped into our vehicle, headed back to where we last saw her. The only thing I could think of was that Crystel could not talk. Her speech was not intelligible. The person who most understood her was Antonio and he was with us. She could tell no one her first name, her last name, or who her parents were.

When you have an articulation disorder, Crystel di Grazia, is not a good name to have. Now if she had my name before I changed it … Ann Smith … she could have spit that out – nothing to trip over there.

Fortunately, she was right where we last saw her, staring at a goat. Somehow, she knew, to stay right where she was and not move when her family was lost.

The next time that I was aware that our last name posed a problem was when Antonio was four years old and he was being asked in preschool to practice printing his last name. I looked at him and shook my head. First, he would have to understand that it was a small di then a space then Grazia with a large G.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I was thinking was, just give it up, kid. It’s not going to happen. You’ll never learn how to say your last name much less spell it.

Fortunately, he didn’t listen to me.

And, if he wants di Grazia to be Spanish, then it’s Spanish. After all, it’s a created name. It’s different. And, it’s ours. We’ve grown into it.

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