The Amazing Story Behind My Baby’s Name
44 summers ago my mother’s mother, father, and grandmother were killed in a freak car accident.
Since they died before I was even born, as a child I knew nothing about my grandparents (though I was named after my late maternal grandmother, Chana). And as a mother myself, I have never mentioned my deceased grandparents to my own children.
So it was pretty strange when last January, the week I found out I was pregnant, my 7-year-old, Moriah, woke me up one morning with a huge smile on her face and told me about her dream. Moriah isn’t generally a morning person, so when I asked her why she was so unusually chipper that morning, she told me the following:
“Eema, listen, the father of Grandma Gila [my mother] came to me in a dream! In the dream, he told me, ‘I am the father of Grandma Gila. Please tell Grandma Gila that I have entered your home. I have returned to life and I have been healed.”
At that point, Moriah pointed to her arms, and told me that at first in her dream the father of Grandma Gila had been covered with brown wounds, and then she saw the wounds disappear, replaced by healthy skin. When Moriah told me this detail, I remembered that my mother’s father had actually died as a result of the fire following the accident, and realized that these wounds were probably burns.
When I asked Moriah what Grandma Gila’s father looked like, she said that he had a moustache, just like my grandfather did for his entire adult life.
I immediately connected the dream with that week’s positive pregnancy test.
When I told my mother about the dream during our weekly Skype call, she looked stunned. And afterwards, every week she would ask me whether I had found out if I was having a boy.
When I finally found out I was having a boy during an ultrasound in my 6th month, I began to cry. It was one of those rare moments in my life when I have witnessed the curtain between this world and the Next open up for a peek. Before that ultrasound, I had assumed that we were having yet another girl to join my five older daughters. But it appeared that the dream was true…Grandma Gila’s father had entered our home through the soul of this new baby.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, Moriah told me that she had had another dream about my grandfather. She told me:
“I dreamt that Grandma Gila’s father came into our home, and a Torah scroll called out to him to approach it. And then,” Moriah said, “the Torah taught Grandma Gila’s father everything that is in the Torah.”
When I discussed Moriah’s dreams with my rabbi, he explained that when Savta Gila’s father refers to being healed, it is clear that he is not actually talking about a physical healing, because he no longer has a physical body. He is referring to the spiritual transformation and fixing he has undergone as a result of his difficult death and in the World to Come. And I think that this Torah scroll dream hints at that spiritual transformation.
B”H, we had the bris this past Shabbat, and we named our newborn son Yaakov Gedalia Chaim after my grandfather.
I still know very little about my Grandpa Jack, but I do know that he was one strong person. When the school principal mistreated my Aunt Sheila, my mother told me recently, Grandpa Jack marched right down to that school and gave the principal a tongue-lashing she would never forget.
I bless my son that he will inherit the strength of his Grandpa Jack. In today’s world, a Jew must be strong in order to remain holy despite the bright lights of emptiness and impurity trying so hard to draw us in. And to stay strong and keep our heads held high despite the nations determined to destroy us.
Thank You Hashem for this great gift, for my dream come true, Yaakov Gedalia Chaim.