WHAT'S IN A NAME?
26 September 2008
One thing about having foster dogs is that it gives me the opportunity to think of names for them. When you only have YOUR dog, you give it a name and that's it, until you get another dog. But with litters of pups and a parade of older dogs through here, most of whom come without names, the opportunity to choose names never ends. I didn't name Chico, or Joy, or Freddie, so I'm due for a nameless dog pretty soon. I choose the names based on all sorts of things -- what's going on in the world, what television program I'm watching, a play I've seen, or categories -- Gilbert & Sullivan names, names from a novel, or just names that pop into my head.
We recently received an update on Bissell, whom we had in January of this year. The new family is thrilled with him, and I guess they are continuing to call him Bissell. That was a throw-away name, because the day before I went to pick him up, I had been cleaning the floor with my new Bissell steam cleaner!
When it came to naming kids, we put in a little bit more thought (but sometimes not much!).
Walt had vetoed my choice of a girl's name, Laurie Pauline, before we were ever married, but we agreed that Jeri was going to be a Jerry/Jeri whether she was a boy or a girl. The two people who conspired to get Walt and me together were an Irish guy named Jerry O'Keefe (who was killed in a bar brawl in Chicago before Jeri was born), and Jeri's godmother, for whom she is named. So we decided very early in my pregnancy that this baby would be named either Jerry or Jeri. Her middle name is Anne and Walt wanted to name her Anne because it is my middle name. I wanted to name her Anne because it was the name of my favorite teacher, so she is named either after me or after Sister Anne, depending on whom you ask.
Naming Ned was easy too. We had a very good friend, Ed Andrews, whom we knew from UC Berkeley. He had left Berkeley to enter the monastery and we wanted to name a child after him. Walt's name is Walter Edward and his father's name was Walter Eldred, so until he got into school, he was known as "Ned," to avoid confusion with his father, and that was the name that his family still often called him, until OUR Ned was born. Ned became Edward Andrew, but we knew that we didn't want an "Eddie" or an "Edward," so from the beginning he was "Ned," sorta kinda after his father.
Paul's first name came back from that "Laurie Pauline" name that I loved. I just liked the name Paul and Walt didn't have any objection to it (it was also my uncle's name). His middle name was Joseph, for Father Joseph Quinn, who had been the pastor of the Newman Center for most of our years there, and whom all of us held responsible for the 22 children that were born to the Pinata Group. I'm not sure Quinn ever felt honored about having a kid named after him.
By the time I was pregnant with Tom, we still had lots of girls names we agreed on, but we were running out of boy's names. Names that I liked, Walt didn't; names that he liked, I didn't. We were discussing names one day when four year old Jeri came in from playing. "Jeri, if this baby is a boy, what should we name him?" I asked her. Unhesitatingly, she said "Tommy." Walt and I looked at each other. Tommy? We both liked it, and so he became "Thomas." (I recently told the story of Tommy K, who was the reason our Thomas ended up being called "Tom" or "Thomas" instead of Tommy).
Tom's middle name is Kirk, which is a family name. My mother's mother's maiden name was Kirkpatrick, so the "Kirk" is a throwback to some sort of family tie. In retrospect, I'm kind of sorry that we didn't give him the whole name, Kirkpatrick, or the other family name that filters through my family, Scott.
I really don't remember why we named David "David." It might have been for Walt's boss and friend, Dave Johnson. Or it might have just been that we liked the name. But Dave also had a family name as a middle name, Norman, which is Walt's brother's name.
When we were planning Dave's baptism we threatened Walt's brother, who was not exactly the most responsible person in the world in those days (fortunately he has improved a lot in the intervening 30 years!). We said that if he didn't show up for the baptism, we would have David named "David Mud."
Well, he didn't make it so we talked the priest into giving us a blank baptismal certificate and filled out the name as "David Mud." We actually had Norm going for awhile when we showed it to him. But eventually we admitted that we had actually given the baby the middle name "Norman."
It's funny about names. My name is
Beverly but I was almost named Barbara, after my aunt Barb (the one who died of Alzheimers
last year). At the last minute, my parents decided that having two Barbaras in the
family would be confusing, so they gave me her middle name, Beverly. Ironically,
throughout my life anybody who can't remember my name calls me Barbara and, in truth, I've
always felt more a "Barbara" than a "Beverly."
A baby becomes Jerilyn Anne Sykes
MILES TO NOWHERE: 72 miles