She is Donna Faith. You don’t hear either name a whole lot these days, especially Donna. I guess Faith has picked up some speed the last 15 years or so. But Donna peaked in the late ’50s. Donna Reed was everybody’s sweetheart then. Donna Douglas was Elly May. Donna Summer came along soon after and compelled us all to the disco, God forbid. But through time and trends, Donna suggests romance, mystery, grace, love. The Madonna. Prima Donna — first lady. Bella Donna — beautiful lady.
Our bella Donna arrived not long after midnight last Monday, a day and much of a night after her mother began labor. She belongs to my nephew — my sister’s oldest son — and his wife. She is the first grandchild among my siblings and I, my first grandniece, the first flower of new life for a family, like all families, that has danced its inevitable dance with loss and grief over the last decade.
But Donna, it turns out, also is the forever link to my family’s foundation, as well as the herald of its future. Her daddy’s grandmother, my mom, was Dorothy. Sweet, darling Dottie. Her mother’s grandma was Anna. Lovely Anna.
My sister knows her son, and she knows her daughter-in-law. Both refused to disclose the names they were considering, just as they declined to learn from the doctor whether their baby was a girl or a boy. They wanted, they honored, both secrets. But my sister was certain they would go with family, in some variation. Which variation, she could not and never did puzzle out, for a child of either gender. (The chosen male name will remain locked in the vault for later potential use, it is presumed.) But when Donna was bestowed and announced, so simple and powerful, it was as if every karmic force clasped hands and cast their light, shined their blessing, rained their love upon the parents and upon their families.
I thank them for Donna Faith. I thank them for the lives she memorializes, for the milestone she marks in our shared history, for the days she gets to grow and learn and hope and love, and us along with her.
This beautiful day. This beautiful girl.