Every time I say your name out loud, it feels kinda weird. It could be because I am talking to someone I know doesn't understand me so it still feels like I'm just talking to myself. Also, how can a name feel right when it's not yet attached to a face? At 24 weeks, you do indeed have a little face but I can only guess if the whole "sons looking like moms" rule applies to you or if your great grandma Rosewarn's genes have won the battle yet again and you look just like Dad. Either way, "Vincent" does not yet feel at home coming out of my mouth and I have to say, it concerns me.
I know sometimes babies come out not quite looking like their chosen names. However, if I have to change yours, I'd also have to break a promise.
When I was 14, my great grandpa died. So as you can imagine, I had plenty of years getting to know him. Most people can't really say they knew their great grandparents as well as I knew some of mine. Well, maybe "well" is a strong word to use in the case of my great grandpa. I saw him regularly enough and he was always very sweet to me. He was like so many super old people I knew as a kid and I just lumped him in that preciously pruny pile with the rest of them. That is how I thought of him for a long time, just as another old person who wanted to give me cookies and ask me how school was.
It was actually the subject of school that changed my perception of my great grandpa for the rest of my life. In the 14 years I had with him, we had only ever really had one real conversation. At ten years old, this conversation seemed to spread on for days but I'm sure it was only maybe 20 minutes. It was after his routine question of how school was going. He did seem to ask that a lot. I told him I liked school and that I was running for class president and I was in the gifted program and I wanted to be a writer. (Note: I barely made it into GATE, they basically confused my cleverness in the classroom for intelligence and let me in out of pity.)
I remember he stopped whatever what he was doing and sat down at the table with me. He then proceeded to talk, maybe even ramble, non-stop about how important school was. He told me that a lot of kids his age couldn't go to school. He was one of those kids, having to drop out in the 6th grade to help support his family of seven. He said life was hard for children when he was growing up but you had to make sacrifices for the people you loved. While he was saying this, he seemed to become more and more unglued as he went along. Finally to my slight horror, his eyes started to well up when he got to the part where he said that he just wanted to learn. Horror might be the only word to describe what it was like to see this man cry. Because I was so young and he was so old, it seemed like the world was just caving in and I was seeing some real shit for the first time in my short life.
There was a single phrase he kept repeating throughout the whole thing, the thesis of which was obviously that school was important and that I should stay in it. He kept saying, "Old grandpa is trying to tell you something." This very elderly tendency to repeat himself to an obscene degree perfectly aligned with my adolescent tendency to not pay attention to anything. The words have managed to stick with me, vividly, for 18 years. The image of his mourning yet profoundly proud face is something I will carry with me always. His name was Vincent Audino.
Now, it's not as if after this conversation I become a star student. I never have been. I've always brought in average grades and have taken the slow and steady route in accomplishing academic goals always while prioritizing other things like a social life and a job. But the fact is that I did go on to have the most education than anyone in the history of my family and that education did lead me to good things. I'll never know what would have happened to me if great grandpa hadn't taken an interest in me and told me exactly why on that particular day in time.
A few weeks after I found out I was pregnant with you, I was home alone, wondering if you were a girl or a boy. Your dad and I had already thought of family names for a boy and out of all the names in both of our families, Vincent seemed like the nicest one. It was definitely on the "maybe" list. But on that particular day, I thought about that conversation I had with great grandpa and it dawned on me that the reason he was so happy that I was in school was because he sacrificed to make it so. He struggled as a child and he struggled as a young dad (he was 16 when he fathered my papa) to make life for his children better than his was. My papa in turn had better opportunities to make a life for his family, giving my mother everything she needed to give her kids the same. Great grandpa's hardship didn't just get his family through rough times, they created his legacy. You're a part of that.
That day at home, I put a message out to the universe in case there was any possible way that great grandpa would hear it. I told him if you were a boy, your name would be his. I told him just how much he reached me and how I was going to make his memory live on in some tiny way.
So please try and look like a Vince when you pop out. If not, he may get pissed and haunt us and it will be all your fault.