Finding the Name

There are two things I absolutely love in a good story and in real life: A well-placed swear word and the perfect name.

In case you were planning to cuss the next time you are in my presence just to brighten my day, let me explain. I don't condone swearing. I don't swear (I tried it a few times and I just sounded stupid) and I find that there are other words in the vocabulary that carry more weight and more meaning and more...zing...than the common curse word. I mean, let's face it. Swear words are so overused their only value is that of shock. I'd rather be shocked by a really smart insult than a really vulgar one.

But there is something about that singular, perfectly placed curse in a place where no other word would do that just feels so dead right.

It's similar with names. Have you ever met a person whose name just doesn't fit right? Or read a book and the main character's name felt wrong? It's downright unsettling!

But then - have you ever met or read a person whose name was so brilliant you just couldn't get over it?

I am a huge sucker for a really great name.

Don't even get me started on nicknames.

So when it came time to name my children - actual human beings that I was bringing into the world and saddling with a label - the pressure was on.

But - just like a great name for a great character in a book - I knew that when I found the right name, it would feel right. But I also knew that there was no way to get that feel right feeling before I met the tiny person in person.

So Bill and I collected a short list of our favorites - first and middle - and took them with us to the hospital. Then, when Bill and I finally had a moment alone with our new toy, we would make the final decision. Every time, we both settled on the same name. Then we'd take it to Heavenly Father, because we like to involve Him in stuff like that. 'Cause, you know, they're His kids, too. And we hoped that if we were about to make a colossal naming blunder, He'd intervene.

Before the name was actually given at the hospital, we didn't reveal any of our short list to anyone. This was insurance against outside opinions swaying our own. Also - it's difficult to name your kid something that you know for a fact his great grandmother just hates. Also also - I loved having that one thing be just between Bill and I until we unveiled it to the world with the face it belonged to.

Those are the logistics. Here is our formula:

We give our kids a unique first name. Something that's just theirs to grow into. For their middle name, we name them after someone we want to honor and would wish for them to emulate.

Wyatt Russell was named for my dad, Russell Gordon, who has always been a personal hero of mine. Growing up with a man like my Dad as my example of what a Real Man looked like kept me believing, and gave me the courage to wait for my amazing husband. Which, you know, lead to all the kids and all the naming. Plus, he had four daughters - no sons - and is really, really into his grandkids. So we felt that honoring him by naming our first boy for him was fitting.

Daphne Martha was named for Bill's mom. Martha lost her long battle with breast cancer when Bill was just 12 years old. I've learned that Martha was unselfishly kind, of strong character, and that we would have been friends. Also - my little Daphne looks a lot like her aunt Lizzie, who looks exactly like her mother. I often wonder if Martha gets as much of a kick out of our little Daphne as we do.

Henry Walker is named for Garry and Shirley Walker, also known as Aunt Grammie and Uncle Oompa. They are Bill's Aunt and Uncle, but to us they are much more. Honorary parents/grandparents and really great friends. They are two of my favorite people on this planet, and I am constantly amazed by how much they do for us. My children love them dearly. I wish we lived closer. I go through withdrawal.

As far as Wyatt, Daphne and Henry's first names are concerned - we looked and read and tried name after name on our tongues until we found the one that felt right. It was like - there was one name that was going to fit better than any other, and it was only a matter of finding it.

And I love their names. Each one. And all the nicknames that ensued.


That Girl said...

I think you need to nickname me.