When I was a child I hated the name Cecilia.
Truth be told, for a time I didn’t even want to be a girl. My mother told me once if I’d been a boy I would have been called Howard. (She had a thing about the actor and singer Howard Keel.)
I tried to keep up with the boys because I thought my father had really wanted a son. I ran with the lads. Played boys’ games. Most of my friends were neighbourhood boys. Until, one day I climbed up a drainpipe onto the Drill Hall roof and couldn’t get back down. Somebody’s dad had to climb up and give me a fireman’s lift back to safety.
My street cred was ruined. I was a real girl after all. A girl christened Cecilia after her paternal grandmother. My grandmother was a miner’s wife, skilled at spinning out the family income to feed her brood of six children. She made the best custard in the world. I digress.
It took me a long time to grow into my name. I still don’t do frills and fancies, preferring classic styles and understatements fashion-wise, but every now and then I can fall in love with most unsuitable, uncomfortable shoes.
The meaning of my name came as a shock. It means ‘blind’. What? In what ways am I blind? There are several interpretations as in ‘blind’ faith where the believer does not need proof to believe. I rather like that.
Most people will know that Saint Cecilia is patroness of music.
According to legend Cecilia was a Roman woman of noble birth who was martyred for her refusal to worship Roman gods. She is often depicted with a musical instrument of some sort but she also sang. My grandmother Cecilia made sure all her children had a musical education. My father played honky-tonk piano, two more of the six gained degrees in music, one became a music teacher. One son married a lady with an incredible soprano voice, my aunt Irene, and many of Cecilia’s grandchildren went on to be passionate about the Arts. For me, it’s writing now but I sang with an international choir in France for seven years and before that took part in competitive singing in the east of England winning several silver trophies over the years. Strange, how things turn out, isn’t it?
Now I can be proud to say my name. I’m comfortable with it. Friends call me Celia for short, or Cee-Cee or just Cee. But I was named Cecilia and that’s all right with me.