My granddaughter carries a name that was unexpected, and it has become my joy these past ten days to watch her own it. The way she holds her head, darts her eyes, purses her mouth – I hold her in my arms and feel her Winona-ness. She is teaching me who Winona Louise is.
I brought no pre-conceptions to the name Winona Louise both because I’ve never known a Winona and because the name came, as the poet says, “out of the everywhere into the here.” My face registered surprise and wonder when my daughter Lis told me her three-hour-old daughter’s name. Winona?
Winona is a Sioux name meaning “first born daughter,” Lis informs me. Winnie Mandela is one of the strongest, most respected women in the world, my friend Julie reminds me.
But Winona Louise is herself, simply herself, and she is teaching me who Winona is. And that definition will be correct and ever-changing, and unexpectedly wonderful.