It wasn’t easy choosing Sophia’s name, but we couldn’t be happier with how it seems to suit her. The nickname Lester was fun while it lasted, but since birth we’ve moved on to more fitting nicknames like Sweet Sophia or Squirmin’ Merman (when we change her she squirms like crazy and sings like Ethel Merman). By the time of the official baby naming I’m sure we’ll have an even longer list of nicknames to share with you. In the meantime, I want to explain a little bit about where Sophia’s name came from and why it is very special.
It is common in the Jewish faith to name babies in memory of a family member that is deceased. Sophia is named after my mother who died from a brain tumor when I was only 9 years old. My mother’s name was Sandra Terry Rick (her hebrew name was Sarah Tovah) but she went by Terry. So in her memory, we’ve named our daughter Sophia Teri Rick Yudell (hebrew name is Sarah Tovah as well). Since my mother didn’t have a connection to the name Sandra, we selected a different “S” name that we thought was prettier and more fitting. Sophia means wisdom in Latin and therefore is an even greater tribute to my mother.
My mother was a woman who believed in bettering her community and herself through education, activism and compassion. She was intellectual, strong and incredibly devoted to progressive causes, feminist issues in particular. My mother’s most favorite cause, however, was her role as a mother to a little girl. She gave her all to this job and always provided me with boundless love, tenderness, strength and respect. In a short time she raised me to be the best person that I can be—someone who gives more than she takes and appreciates the value in wisdom.
Pretty much every day since September 1985, I have looked forward to one day having a daughter of my own to carry my mother’s name and live by these same values. Sometimes when I watch Sophia sleeping in my arms, I think about how 30 years ago my mother felt the same love, responsibility and wonderment when she gazed on her newborn.
Last year Michael, my parents and I established a scholarship in memory of my mother at Sharon High School (in my hometown). The scholarship is given to a graduating senior who has exhibited both academic excellence, and, most importantly, an engagement in and commitment to social and community issues. If any of you out there are thinking about a baby gift for Sophia, please consider donating to the Terry Rick Memorial Scholarship. We believe that this is a special way to honor our little girl and her extraordinary namesake.