Naming a child is a real responsibility and one not to be taken lightly. But when we were choosing a name for our baby, there really was just one option.
My Nanna is the heart of our family and probably the bravest person I know. Not brave in a staring down the barrel of a gun way, but quietly resilient and consistently courageous, whatever life has thrown at her.
Born in 1920, she lost her mother at a young age, meaning she took on a maternal role for her twin sister, born with undiagnosed health issues. Life in Leeds was tough and she worked hard to support her family, growing up fast and always putting other people first.
She did her bit for her country in the war, manning the radar on the anti-aircraft guns and having the time of her life, unconstrained by the traditional role of a woman in the 1940s. That all ended when the war did, but with trademark resilience, she made the transition to wife and mother in a rural steel town happily – despite missing the bright lights of the big city and the freedom the war years had given her.
Over the years, she lost her twin without having the chance to say goodbye, brought up four children on her own after my Grandad died from a harrowing, painful illness and struggled with a breakdown we were all convinced was going to finish her off. But true to form, she kept on bouncing back.
Even now, at 95 and having been without her beloved husband for almost 50 years, she doesn’t feel self-pity. She’s grateful for her family, the roof over her head, a constant supply of good books and the little tipple she has every other night. And every time I see her, she tells me how lucky she is.
I hope she’ll be around long enough for Kitty to realise what an incredible person she is; for her to hear her stories and experience the gratitude and love that just radiates from her. And if she isn’t, I’ll make sure I tell her every day about the beautiful person whose name she shares.
Because everyone can learn a valuable lesson from my Nanna. So many people live their lives bemoaning what they don’t have or blaming the rubbish hand they’ve been dealt for their constant dissatisfaction with life. But as far as Nanna’s concerned, if you have love, family and make the most of all of life’s little pleasures, you can’t go far wrong.
OK, so she may not have climbed Everest, swum the Channel or wrestled a tiger, but our baby’s namesake is the very definition of bravery. And if little Kitty has inherited one tenth of her tenacity, nothing is going to stand in her way.
Kitty, meet Kitty… just the 95 years between them