Where This Meets That
Any day now, we could find ourselves in the hospital to finally meet our fifth child, in person.
But what will we call her?
So much thought goes into naming a child. Well, for some people. One of my colleagues overseas just delivered her second baby, but because their family names babies from a sequence of traditional family names, they don’t have to think about it at all.
Christy and I, however, do.
Exhibit A: Kid 1
Our first time around, we resisted finding out whether we were having a girl or boy. After toiling long and hard for months over names for both, we were blessed with a boy and scrapped all the girl names straightaway.
We liked Reece as a middle name but were torn on the first, between Aidan and Gabriel. There was a female volleyball player popular at the time named Gabrielle Reece, and that made the difference; we beheld our Aidan Reece in the hospital. We knew Aidan meant “fiery” but thought that could well be a virtue. Somehow, we overlooked that Reece also meant “fiery”.
Not sure what you can do to reason with “Fiery Fiery” but we’re doing our best!
Exhibit B: Kid 2
Given the time we sunk into deciding girl names only to scrap them all the first time around, it’s no wonder we “cheated” the second time around and found out we were having a girl. Some might just keep the unused names in their pockets for next time, but I prefer to consider each new baby’s name from scratch.
One of the early names we considered was Nadia. Fortunately, we realized that Nadia is Aidan spelled backwards and crossed it off the list immediately; that would’ve just been weird. And since I just hate to be weird (note sarcasm), I took to gandering instead at the random letter patterns in word search puzzles to see if I could find a name totally new and unique. For naught, but it was a neat exercise.
Christy was in her seventh month of pregnancy when 9/11 occurred. We had pretty well settled on the name Madeleine (over Julia) by then, but it was the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that led us to give her Hope as her middle name. Madeleine was good, saintly name, and only now, reviewing names again, do I connect that the name comes from Aramaic word for “Tower”. That from the destruction of the twin towers we settled on a name meaning essentially “Tower of Hope” provides a deep point of reflection on Maddie’s life.
Exhibit C: Kid 3
The third time around was another boy. I proposed the names Kermit and Gilligan but was promptly dismissed. My logic was sound, that no modern parent would dare pick either name and that other kids wouldn’t be quick to make the connection with either the fuzzy frog or the island misfit; therefore, each name would be both unique and safe. Alas, I was rebutted by my own logic: “no modern parent would dare pick either name!”
So I began promoting honorable titles for names. “Doctor”, “Captain”, and “Admiral” all seemed, ahem, admirable, but I began finding myself on matrimonially fragile ground and cracked open the Bible instead.
All kidding aside, Caleb Isaac was an easy name for us to agree on, and our first two kids lobbied for it, as well. We liked that Caleb meant “faithful” and appreciated the biblical figure Caleb. Isaac is my middle name, which I got from my grandfather. You might also know that it carries a little biblical significance of its own, and it means “laughter”. There are worse capes to drape a child in than that of “faithful laughter”.
But after Caleb arrived and we shared his name with our family, a cousin and family historian sent us some interesting notes on the name we chose.
As it turns out, my grandfather Isaac was named after his Uncle Isaac, whose father (my great-great-grandfather) was named Caleb Furr. This Caleb was born in 1817 in my home state of Georgia and died in Mississippi in 1898, where my grandfather and my mother were eventually born. But even further, in Caleb Furr’s bible was written, “Caleb Griffith, my Grandfather [or my great-great-great-GREAT-grandfather], departed this life on the 10th day of April, 1857 in Habersham County, Georgia”. Habersham County is less than 80 miles from where I live today, but the records show that this Caleb was born in 1769 Worcester, Massachusetts, which probably places him as a first, or possibly second, generation American in my family tree.
Exhibit D: Kid 4
Number four brought another girl. Marie was a strong name in both of our families, so that was an easy call for the middle name, but deciding the first name was a doozie this time around.
We took four names into the hospital with us: Anna, Catherine, Eva (long “e”) and Teresa. By the time our new baby was born, we were down to Anna and Eva but couldn’t decide. I was in the nursery when they gave our baby girl her first bath and the nurse asked me her name. I was a little embarrassed to admit that we hadn’t decided yet when an attendant sitting at a desk behind me randomly interjected, proclaiming, “That girl’s an Ava [long "a"] all the way!” We thought it a coincidence that she called it so close to Eva that we decided to just call her Eva for that night to see how it fit.
It didn’t. In fact, I found that Ava seemed to be the name my mouth wanted to say when I tried to say Eva. The next morning, we wrote “Ava Marie” down to see how it looked on a piece of paper. We were struck by its similarity to “Ave Maria” and loved it. To this day, when we hear “Ave Maria”, we call it Ava’s song.
Exhibit E: Kid 5
As I started, any day now, we could find ourselves in the hospital to meet our fifth child, in person.
But what will we call her?