Names. Marty Jean, daughter of Ethel Jean and Arty Jewell, you can see where they found her name. Larry Carlisle, son of Bettye Lou and Larry Carlisle Sr., I am a junior; it’s part of my heritage. My nickname, Ginger, is a part of our family lore. Our names don’t define us, but they are gifts, of a sort, for our past.
The names we carry are signs of where we came from, where we started. Marty never particularly liked the name Jean, her mother went by Jean because she didn’t like the name Ethel and I was married to Marty for 20 years before I knew Arty’s middle name was Jewell, he truly wasn’t a Jewell kind of guy.
Marty and I worked hard to provide our children names they would be proud of and wouldn’t scar them in some way. It’s my memory that I named our children, I’m betting Marty remembers differently, but since I’m the scribe, I named our children and named them well.
Matthew McCauley is a great, strong name which has fallen to the derivative Matt, but it really fits my son, he is Matt. The McCauley is a family name, people who raised Marty’s maternal grandfather and at the time we wanted to honor Marty’s family but Arty and Jewell just didn’t seem to work in 1979.
Our daughter’s name is Erin Elaine mostly because I liked the name Erin, it’s a Celtic name and we aren’t Celts, but I liked the name anyway. Elaine came about because it was my sister’s middle name….sorry Martha, not really, it just seemed to fit with Erin and Erin Elaine rolled trippingly off the tongue.
I tried to exert what patriarchal influence I thought I might have when grandchildren started to appear. I strongly lobbied for a good strong Texas name that would reflect the powerful lineage of both families, a Larry on our side and a Robert on the mother’s side led to the logical name, Larry Bob. Larry Bob died a long death, and morphed into Noah Robert which is probably a better reflection of the budding train engineer that is Noah, but I’m going to call him Noah Bob and I don’t care what they say.
When daughter Erin came to be with child they decided they didn’t want to know the sex prior to birth, it was to be a surprise, much like the whole being with child thing. Because husband Lyle’s family has an L thing going with names and because Erin had put dibs on Luke for a child’s name since she was 12 the boys name was to be Luke something or other, we didn’t get to the something or other because we got a Lily, a perfect little baby girl. In fact, we got a Lily Jewell and got to use Marty’s father’s name in a very appropriate fashion and I get to sing “Hi Lily, Hi Lily, Hi Lo” endlessly when I hold Lily Jewell.
Now we have a new one on the way, a new baby girl. My son and his wife are keeping names close to their respective vests. Sarah, Noah Bob’s mother, keeps saying she just doesn’t feel any of the names proffered. I keep reminding her of the plethora of strong family names we have, Ethel, Beatrice, Lula, a Bettye Lou, Ebba Bird or Grace, all kinds of really cool names. I’ve offered Sally Jo but that was a no go. I suspect they will know her and her name when she comes next month.
The semi-remarkable thing about all of these names is that Marty knows them, remembers them, recites them. All along she has been remarkably good at remembering names and faces of people she knew before the strokes, but she struggles with names of people she has since come to know.
Marty trusts our three amazing caregivers, Nikkie, Renae and Erica, completely. She spends hour upon hour with them, listening, talking and getting to know them. She knows who they are, she knows what they do for her, she struggles with their names. If you say their name, recognition, if you ask what their names are, the recognition is there, but the names are not close to the tongue, her brain knows who they are; getting it to the mouth doesn’t work.
Her grandchildren however, she knows and remembers their names. She can’t get down and play with them on the floor, she can’t really interact to the degree she would like, but she is absolutely enchanted with both Noah Bob and Lily Jewell. She knows she is attached, she knows they are hers; she knows they are a part of her life. Marty knows their history and their names are in forever in her brain and on her tongue because they are a part of her.
I like my name; I like the fact that it ties me to my family and is a part of my past. I really like the fact that Marty remembers her grand kid's names, I really like the fact that she is still here to see and appreciate her children passing on names and passing on her family's past. Mostly, as always I really like the fact that she is still here, with me.