For decades I avoided any discussion of my middle name. When people found out, a lot of laughter and teasing would ensue, and can I blame them? No.
A dear friend once tried to console me by giving me a copy of The Eve of St. Agnes by Keats. It is a lovely poem, but it didn't help.
|The Eve of Saint Agnes|
My mum and dad named me after my great-grandmother. I didn't know that much about her, except that she died in the Blitz in London. A bomb was dropped on the house, and she perished. And that's all I knew.
This year, however, I got to read my aunt's transcription of what happened that night the bomb fell.
My great-grandmother, Agnes, was in the house with my grandmother and my aunt, who was a little girl at the time. When the bomb dropped the roof caved in, trapping the family in their bedrooms.
They had to lie there under the debris for hours. At last the rescue team lifted the roof off the house (my aunt remembers a "feeling of freedom" as the roof was taken off.)
Still, the rescue team didn't know if there were any survivors. They dug through the rubble and discovered Agnes, my great-grandmother. Although she was terribly hurt, she was able to tell the search officers, all volunteers themselves, where to find the others in the house.
And so, with her guidance, my grandmother and my aunt were found, and they survived. Because of her. Because of Agnes.
My name is Alison Agnes. And I'm damn proud of it.