What’s In A Name . . . Mine?

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Marias familyMy maiden name was Maria Grazia Tognolo. That changed when I married Mr. Swan. I liked the Swan last name so much I kept it after the divorce. Therefore, my name is Maria Grazia Swan, or so I thought.

I can’t tell you how many times I receive legal documents with my name entered as Maria Garcia, yes, even after all these years, it still happens.

Or how many people convinced that they are multilingual address me as Mary Thank you. I usually manage to keep a straight face. Usually, but not always.

It’s time to clear the air and explain why my mother named me Maria Grazia and by the way, the correct English translation is Mary Grace.

By naming me Maria Grazia my mother went against Italian tradition of naming the first girl after the two grandmothers. But my mother had made a vow to the Madonna di Monte Berico, a fancy name for the Virgin Mary. She promised to the Madonna (The Virgin Mary, not the singer) that in exchange for the safe homecoming of my father who was in the service, she would name her first daughter Maria (for Mary) and Grazia (for the grace received). In other words, I was the ransom for the exchange. Not really, but I like the thought.

What would have happened had I been a boy? Let’s not go there.

The next girl in the family, my sister Annica, has the grandmothers’ names. Anna and Domenica, cleverly abbreviated to Annica.


You can choose your friends, but you only have one mother. Max Shulman

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