I am named after my mom’s mother, my father’s sister, and I have my father’s family surname. The name I go by in my community means “pure” and my first name is one which is desired. That’s not helpful.
My grandmother died when I was nine. I knew her, or at least, I have memories about her. I remember her buying me books, and beginning me on my love of reading. So many books. When we cleaned out her house, we had 3000 books to move or give to the library.
I never met my aunt, she died the year before I was born from a mosquito bite she got on a mission project in Panama City Beach, Florida. I go now by the same shortened version of our shared middle names. It throws me off sometimes, because my grandparents will talk about her, and I will hear my name spoken.
Hearing my name spoken always surprises me. Saying someone’s name catches their attention, draws them in, lets them know that they are worthy of attention. It is one of the reasons I know it is so important to learn names in community, and why I beat myself up so when I fail to remember names.
How much do I identify with my name? A few times I have tried out different versions of my name, thought about going by my first name a few times, but it just didn’t feel right. Why have I identified by this name?
I wonder if that is why some people change their names. Do they no longer wish to be reminded about a part of their lives? Do they want to leave their family, or histories behind them? I find that I appreciate the history and meaning of my name, that it has become a part of me, not just a label I use for the convenience of others.
So, call me by my name.