It was strange seeing my family and my husbands family all huddled in a room together, standing around and eating drippy foods from paper plates. They were courteous to each other in that Southern way where youre never quite sure if they genuinely like you or they think youre the devil come to earth. I had gotten used to this kind of uncertainty with Adriens family, but I was fairly sure they hated me. Fairly sure.
Now, my family were no heathens. They were good God-fearing people, for the most part, but they were Presbyterian. Adriens family? Southern Baptists. Thats all I need to say. I felt the urge to look to heaven and cross myself, but I could never remember what order to touch my shoulders.
Ahem. I coughed timidly. Adrien looked at me expectantly. We had decided I should give this announcement for some reason. Oh right, because it was my idea. Stupid idea, Adriens the better orator. Thankfully, nobody else looked up.
Everyone! boomed Adrien, in that resonant voice of his, Pepper has something to say!
I tried to smile and glare at him at the same time, but it came out as a sort of awkward grimace. I looked around at all the expectant faces. I thought to myself, God, just put a noose around my neck.
Good evening, everyone. So glad to have yall here, tonight.
Some people smiled, but most everyone was urging me silently to get to the point.
Um, as you know, weve recently had a beautiful baby girl, I said, indicating the little bundle in my husbands arms. At this point, everyone ooed and awed and clapped, buying me some time, until someone decided to ask, So, whats her name, already?
I mentally threw some daggers at the offender (my meddling cousin, no less) and said, Um well, it took us a while to decide. We looked at some unisex names like Casey or Tyler
Adrien urged me with his eyes.
But we finally decided on a name that we think holds meaning and value.
Well, what is it? several people demanded.
Wenamedherpersephone, I said quickly.
What? called Adriens grandmother, Speak up, honey, Im half deaf! All the parents and grandparents nodded in agreement. I sighed.
We named her, I said, slowly, Persephone.
Symphony? asked Adriens amused father, Because youre both musicians? You hope shell become one, too?
I wanted to die. No, not Symphony, I said slowly and loudly, Persephone.
Stephanie? chimed in my grandmother, smiling over at Adriens dad, Well, thats a pretty name
Bless her poor, little old lady heart, I thought.
No, I said, Per-SEPH-o-ne. Persephone!
The bemused looks I was now receiving indicated that I had finally been understood. It was a bittersweet moment.
Persephone? asked Adriens grandmother, her brow furrowed, Why, isnt she that Hades woman?
Yes, replied Adriens scholarly elder brother before I could, Shes was the bride of the underworld.
The bride of underworld has meaning and value? asked Adriens father dubiously. He had the same look as five years ago when he was convince that I was the devil corrupting his son. My own family looked at me with more understanding looks, but they were curious for an explanation, as well.
No, the underworld isnt all bad, I explained, Its where all the dead go in Greek mythology.
One look at their faces told me this explanation didnt cut the mustard. I looked to Adrien for help, but he intentionally avoided eye contact. He had honestly been long opposed to this name, but we had compromised that I would choose the first name and tell everyone and he would choose the middle name. I turned back to my audience.
Look, Persephone is not a bad person, I said, desperately, Shes the maiden of the Springtime, and the daughter of the goddess of the Earth. Shes the reason for the changing of the seasons.
I immediately regretted saying that because about fifteen eyebrows flew up at once.
I I didnt mean REALLY, I said, Just in Greek mythology.
So, what does the name really mean? asked my sister. I think she was trying to help, bless her heart.
bringer of destruction?
Several heads shook, but most looked steadily at me. It wasnt entirely over. I could redeem myself. I had hoped I would convince them with reason and power of words, but I realized it was too late for that. I went with my last resort the name my husband had chosen.
Her middle names Amy.
Oh, what a cute name! Adriens grandmother exclaimed. Everyone agreed and insisted on holding little Persephone, whom they all called Amy. Except my grandmother, who called her Stephanie.