Hi! Welcome to “What’s Your Story?”, the occasional Tuesday space where I invite YOU to participate in the writing. For each episode, I offer a writing prompt. In 200 words or less, YOU get to practice telling YOUR story.
Last Saturday in Episode 29 (Wheelchair Life), I told a story about the Walker name. It turns out that the etymology has Scottish roots of stomping on wool in vats of stale urine. I prefer the image above made entirely with fresh produce from my garden. It just goes to show you. There are SO many stories in a name. Tell us YOURS!
How did you name your child? Where did your middle name come from? What was the significance of your first pet’s name? Have you always felt like you had the wrong name? What was your nickname as a kid? Why did you choose to keep your own last name? Take it where you will, but please take it. We can’t wait to hear your story.
Tip of the Week: “Brain Drain” — Before you hone it down to 100 words, write 300 words without stopping. It always helps me to start by spilling my cluttered brain onto the page. Let it spill out now… edit later.
Keep it 200 words or less! (Word Counter) Be honest. Have fun. Don’t hold back. Leave your contribution in the comments. I’ll go first.
Leave a comment
I was picturing a boy.
Shannon and I were getting ready to have a baby and it was due to happen in the middle of January. As the new year approached, the subject of a name hadn't come up much yet. Since he would be a musician, he'd need a good stage name. My choices were Sonny Ray Walker or Hap Walker. On January 1st at 3:00 am, Shannon went into labor. Our daughter was born at 6 am.
Two days later, we still hadn't decided on a name. When the back of her head emerged into the world, one of my first thoughts was, "She looks like Johanna." Hanna became an option. At some point later, a nurse said, "She looks like a Hallie." It didn't take much convincing, Shannon and I were sold.
My Granny was one of my favorite people in the whole world. Her name was Alvida. When she was born, her father had seen that name written on a boxcar of a passing train. "Hallie Alvida Walker." If you sing her name in 6/8 time with emphasis on the "Ha" "Vi" and "Wa," you'll be singing it all day long.
I've always loved Jane Austen. I did both my bachelors and masters degrees in English literature, and spent two college summers in England, visiting my father's side of the family and falling in love. Reading Jane Austen, and walking the English countryside - those memories will be forever connected with beautiful, romantic, happy times. The first sentence of Jane Austen's Emma is often cited as one of the best introductory lines ever written. First line, every line, it was my favorite book, and it still is. Austen characters captured my imagination and lived in my head in a way others just didn't. When my first daughter was born, Emma was the immediate and obvious choice for me. It turned out not to be the right choice for my child, though. On their own journey through life, they shed gender roles and the names and pronouns associated with them. They built their own worldview, fell in love with their own books, blazed their own trail. They chose a new name and lived into it. I love their new name. I love their old name, too.
We had named our first son Noah. We liked the name, and I like the Bible so Noah it was. When our second son was born, we settled on Jonah. My mother was not a fan. "But Jonah didn't do what God told him to!" (read that in your best Southern Baptist mother voice). No, he didn't. Until he was swallowed up by a big fish.
Our nearly-21-year-old Jonah has spent the last four years running, numbing with drugs that should have killed him. As I wrote in a post recently, he has been in the belly of the big fish for a while, and I've just been waiting for him to be spit out. Three months ago the excrement hit the air conditioning, and he entered rehab. He is still sober and going strong. He has about five more months until he graduates from the entire program.
Also, Jonah means "dove." I could probably do a whole post on that. 200 words here just won't cut it. But you can fill in the blanks.
I was named Rachel by my birth mother, and lived for my first few weeks with that name. When placed with my adoptive parents they renamed me Dana, following the recommendation of adoption professionals to "make the child your own." I've often felt that Rachel was the the only thing, outside of my physical self, that my birth mother gave to me that I could have held on to. But I lost that too. I thought about naming my daughter Rachel, but the name holds pain for me, as the name of a "me" who never grew past a few weeks of age, and I did not want to transfer that pain to my child.
My parents had two daughters and were told that the upcoming third birth, due to my mother’s size, would be the long-awaited healthy Irish son.
When instead my twin sister and I arrived, they had no ideas for names.
They had realized though, that the beloved middle names of their older daughters were never really used, so they recycled them as first names for the twins.
(On a side-note, my father had noticed a pattern. He started with 1 daughter, doubled to 2 with the second child and doubled again to 4 with twins. He decided he didn’t really want a son badly enough to risk the birth of quadruplet daughters and declared that the family was complete. ;-)
Both my sons are named after writers. For my oldest, we had all kinds of girl names ready to go. That was great until my wife had her ultrasound. So it was back to the drawing board.
A few names came and went, and few even spent some time as tentative picks, but nothing really stuck.
One night we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant near our house. It’s the same one everyone has at their local strip mall. It’s not “real” Mexican food, but it’s reliable. At any rate, while dusting another thing of chips waiting for our food, we settled on Henry, and never looked back.
I’m also a fan of Grantland Rice (though not so much of Notre Dame). He’s a good writer, but lived an even better life off the page. And at the time, the website of the same name had some of the best digital writing you could find.
His mom, the state, and I might be the only ones that ever use his full name, but it was a no brainer, and he’s every bit the part.
My Grandma name is Mango. A friend's child called me Mango because she could not say Margot. It suits me. I was born Margot Scull Biddle, entirely after my paternal Grandmother, whom I was later warned to avoid. Confusing, maybe. Even more confusing was that her first name was French, second Welch, maybe Dutch, and last, her married name, English. She was not French. Turns out not Welch, maybe Dutch either, but adopted, and Irish which we learned out my father's funeral. So, moving on I had taken my husband's Croatian last name, Milcetich, which I discovered too late is humorless. Biddle was funny. "Hey diddle Biddle, the cat and the fiddle." Milcetich has insufficient room within the consonants for humor. It could be spelt like the Croatian town of Vlbnk, and be Mlctch. A scratch on the tongue. Looking around for a solution, I asked for a Sanskrit name from my guru. He gave me Devhuti, which everyone mispronounced. So Mango is good.. It works. Dr. Mango is even better. I gave my first grandchild imaginary brain surgery to quiet him down. It was a good idea to reassure him I was a doctor. You can understand.
My best friend, Mary Elizabeth, died when I was 12. I told myself that if I ever had a daughter, I would name her after Mary. I had a grandmother called Mary who could be very cruel to me at times. She did teach me embroidery though I didn't want her name to be just Mary. When my precious daughter was born, I named her Maribeth. Kindess and fun are second nature to her. I named my son Kevin because I just liked the name. A few years later, I found out the Kevin means kind. Kevin's personality is very kind, and he is also lots of fun! I named my car Molly because, besides Maribeth, it is my favorite girl's name. I didn't have any more kids, so Molly is the name of the last three cars I have owned. Thank you, Hall, for the writing assignment!