Wednesday, April 30, 2008

How you were named.

Dear Joseph,

Our names are important to us. It is who we are and what others call us. When we hear our name called we turn without thought to see who has called to us. Naming a baby is a big event. In some cultures an animal name is assigned by a medicine man or elder and that name becomes that person's totem animal. It is believed that the person will have all the characteristics of that animal. We, on the other hand, assign a name to honor a person who is no longer with us. Who, then, is the Joseph for who you have been named?

If he were alive, Joseph Kahn would be your great grandfather. He was the husband of your great grandmother, Miriam. Now, you know grandma Linda. Well, she is the daughter of Joseph and Miriam. Linda is also my wife. So, if you can follow all of this, Joseph Kahn was my father in law. More important than all this is the fact that he was a wonderful man.

Joseph Kahn was intelligent and wise. He knew how to be a good father. In addition, he was scholarly and a wonderful teacher. He could not complete college because of financial reasons, but that didn't stop him from a life time of learning. He and grandma Linda both enjoyed history, especially about the civil war. I learned a lot from listening to the two of them talk.

The man for who you are named was, above all, honest and a man of integrity. He was fair. He was kind, and he was stern when he needed to be. He was, as we say, a man among men. Those of us who knew him miss him a great deal. You, Joseph, have been named after this great man who died shortly before you were born.

In you, I already see a certain good natured smile and a calmness (when your diaper is dry and your tummy full) that tells me that you have been named well. I think that Papa Joe is pleased and honored with knowing that you carry his name.

Papa loves you.

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