Monday, September 19, 2011

Why I Don't Mind "Ellen."

My parents were unaware of what the name Ellen meant when they named me. You see, they named all my brothers and sisters after family members or Saints of the Catholic Church. Well, there is no family member named Ellen. ("Ellen" is not exactly an Italian name). And can you believe that there is not one Saint in all of the Catholic Church named Ellen! So, you can see why when I grew up I wanted to know the meaning of my name and why I hoped it to be something special.

I remember when I was eleven years old my family and I were vacationing in Orlando. We walked into a Floridian souvenir shop. I searched every little key chain, kitchen magnet etc. trying to find my name with the meaning on it. Nothing, but then I came across my name on a coffee mug. It was a white mug with violet writing. It said, " ELLEN...means light." I have got to say I wasn't too impressed. "Light."-how was that something to hold on to?

While standing there holding the mug and rather disappointed, my mother came over to me to see what I had chosen to buy -I showed her the mug. She said, "Wow." Then preceded to tell me a story.

"After giving birth to you," she said, "I was very sick. I had had a physical collapse. I was sent away for three months to heal and rest, but before I left you I prayed to God." "God, " she said,  "This is your child now-I have to leave her to you."  She told me that after the three month respite she was afraid to come home to a three month old baby. She confessed that she still felt weak and wasn't exactly sure if she was up to taking care of me. She thought about the crying and work it required to take care of a new baby,  but then she said, "You were not at all what I had imagined. I would lay in bed with you and you would look at me and smile. Your smile brought me peace." She said that others would try and take me from her so she could rest, but she wouldn't let them. she loved just being with me. I made her happy. I was her light.

With a contentment in my heart I chose that mug as my souvenir.  What eleven year old buys a mug?  Me, that's who. I really cherished it-my sisters made fun of me, but that was okay because they just didn't understand. I kind of wish I still had it. It had chipped somehow and then like all cherished mugs it became a pen holder on my desk. I guess I don't really need it cause I know who I am now.

Years later when I was in college, walking closer with the Lord than I ever had, I was a pretty happy person.  One day as I was coming into my parents house and at the same time my father was coming in too, but he came through the side door. We met up in the kitchen. He was miserable -I was happy. He looked at me and said, "You are always so happy" and then smiled. Before I knew what he was doing he made me get down on one knee.  He got out the closest thing he had to a sword, a long, knife sharpener thingy, and "dubbed" me his "sunshine" his "light."  My father was not a man of many words, let alone kind ones. It meant a great deal to me. 

So, "Ellen" isn't so bad-it means light and truly, if I can be a light to this world then I've actually lived up to my name.

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