It's a busy week for extended family simchas.
Tonight, my cousin is making a modest bar mitzvah party for her son, the oldest of 8. This is the first great-grandchild's bar mitzvah for my grandmother, and it comes just after the first yahrtzeit for my grandfather, ob"m. I won't be there, but RaggedyDad is on his way to the party now. I know it will be pretty moving and emotional for my grandmother.
On Shabbos, the bar mitzvah boy will read from the Torah in his community. However, my grandmother will be in another neighborhood, at the bris of the first baby boy born since my grandfather's passing. The baby was born to another cousin (different family) and his wife, the newest member to join the family. I hope the new mother realizes what's riding on this bris!
The level of emotionality surrounding the reaction to the illness and subsequent loss of my grandfather is hard to describe. To say that it has been a genuine heartbreak for every single member of this large extended family is an understatement.
It is a very strong assumption on the part of some of the elder family members that the name given will be my grandfather's. And I would say that there's a good 98% chance that that'll be the case. But when I talk to my grandmother and it's clear that this is a done deal in her mind, inwardly I cringe at the thought of the very remote possibility that another name will be given. Stranger things have happened.
It's rough sometimes, as young parents, feeling that very intense implicit (or explicit sometimes!) pressure to give a particular name. Or to choose between names that both sides feel ought to be given. Or to find that you just don't like the name you feel like you're "supposed" to give.
I can be objective and say that although I hope to have the merit to use it for one of my own kids someday, my grandfather's name is not on any top 10 or maybe even top 50 list of popular Jewish baby names. And the nickname options it provides are extremely limited. With our kids, we were fortunate to be able to go our own route in combining naming for people and ensuring that we actually liked and wanted to use those names / combinations of names. There was also not the same degree of emotional pressure at the times when our kids were born.
Sigh. I really do wish the new parents nachas from the newborn and the confidence and intuition to make the best of this first of many of their own parental choices.