Daniel – Like in the Bible

clip_image002I normally pass by the WordPress prompt pretty quickly. That said, today’s “Say your name” prompt was compelling, because it brings me to one of my favorite stories about one of my favorite people.

My paternal grandmother emigrated from Syria to the US right around 1900. Her education was obtained hands on while: raising eight children, starting a business, helping her community build a church and surviving challenges that would have emotionally crippled most people. Like many immigrants during that period, she insisted that her children learn to speak English, but she never quite mastered the language.

By the time I was born, my grandmother owned a small apartment building outside of Pittsburgh, PA and both my father and one of his sisters lived there. Between the two kids, they had four children: Melvin, Bonnie, my brother Bruce and finally, as my grandmother had been urging, me – “Daniel, like in the Bible.” My grandmother thought that we should honor God in our lives, and the easiest way to do that would be to give your children biblical names. Dan, Daniel, Danny to a few highly respected relatives and friends, it’s been a good name. The Bible character I’m named after was a hero, and the name has held up to that image. Let’s face it, Nimrod was a significant character in the Bible too, but I think I’m better off with Daniel. I have never not liked my first name. I am not fond of my middle name, and our family name, depending on who is using it, either has a silent ‘I’ or a silent ‘o’ but I’ve only briefly toyed with the idea of changing that.

When I was about 8 years old, my grandmother went on a short vacation to Atlantic City, NJ. She wanted to bring something back for the four grandchildren that were also her neighbors, and she decided to get us sweatshirts with our names on them. These were handed out on her return to three sad faces, those would be “Brut” “Barney” and “Melbin” spelled just the way we could all imagine her saying their names to the sweatshirt man. Of course, when she told him my name, “Daniel,” she added “like in the Bible” as she always did which guaranteed the correct spelling. We were all made to wear our gifts, as a gesture of appreciation, but I had no problem with that.

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