Thursday, September 16, 2010
LEARNING TO LOVE MY NAME
We all know how a person can be shaped by his or her name, and how our preconceived notions about a name can be shaped by a person. Some of the best characters in literature have unusual names, and we like that, because they we feel like the character is unusual... when really, a person's name tells far more about the parent than it does the person.
I was named Irene, for my father's maternal grandmother, whom everyone affectionately called Big Mama. It's an old name, Irene... but I've always loved it. It's just unusual enough and yes, oldfashioned, which suits me. So this post is not about the name Irene.
It's about my maiden name: Dykes. You can imagine the middle-school jokes for a girl blessed with this name. Which is why I was pretty happy to banish it from all legal documents when I married. I love the name Latham. And would have wanted to share my husband's name almost no matter what it was. Not because I hated the name Dykes, but because I'm oldfashioned that way. I want to share a name with my life partner.
So the name change served me well. No more jokes. Although I have cringed on behalf of sisters-in-law and nieces on more than one occasion.
Fast forward twenty years to last week's death of my Granddaddy, Newton Emon Dykes. He's the reason I was named Dykes. That was one of his many gifts to me, my father and all my siblings. And he was one of those classic men who taught by example and loved so ardently. You could count on him, for comfort, humor, joy, anything. So today, I'm proud to bear the name Dykes.
Granddaddy, I will do everything I can to live up to it.