Monday, August 18, 2008

What's in a Name?

Really, what IS in a name? Do you know why your parents named you the way they did? Do you know what they would have named you had you been of the opposite sex?

I do know why my parents named me, but I have no idea what they would have done had I been a boy. I assume they would have given me the name they ultimately gave my younger brother, which was my mother's maiden name, but I don't KNOW, for all I know I could have ended up a boy named Alan. I wish I could still ask my parents this question, but they have both been gone for two years, so I will never know what would have happened if I hadn't been a girl.

But I AM a girl, so I can share my story with you.

First, I hope we all know my name isn't really Irma,right? Because "Irma" doesn't figure anywhere in the story I am about to tell you.

I was born on a cold day in 1969, and my parents were told, almost immediately, that I would not live. Things had gone very wrong for me during delivery, and they should not have any hope, they should not pray for miracles, they should just accept my brief passage through this world.

Imagine being 23 and 24 years old, first time parents, and being told your baby was going to die. And further imagine that you didn't even have a NAME for that baby, because you couldn't agree between your two favourites.

Now further imagine that somehow your baby daughter held on, somehow after eight days she came came back from that gray land, back to the land of the living. How would you, now joyfully, name that baby?

Both of my parents "votes" came from popular music of the day, and, in context of my story, I really don't know which one fits better. And the really interesting thing, to me, is that they both cast their votes long before I was born, but both votes ultimately address my tenuous birth.

Daddy's choice was Caroline, after Neil Diamond's song "Sweet Caroline".

Where it began
I cant begin to knowin
But then I know its growin strong
It was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out
Touching me, Touching you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I look at the night
And it don't seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I'm with you

Warm, touching warm
Reaching out
Touching me, touching me

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would

My mother's choice, on the other hand, was to name me Jennifer after Donovan's song, "Jennifer Juniper."

Jennifer Juniper
lives upon the hill,
Jennifer Juniper,
sitting very still.
Is she sleeping ?
I don't think so.
Is she breathing ?
Yes, very low.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love ?

Jennifer Juniper
rides a dappled mare,
Jennifer Juniper,
lilacs in her hair.
Is she dreaming ?
Yes, I think so.
Is she pretty ?
Yes, ever so.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love ?

I'm thinking of what it would be like if she loved me.
You know just lately this happy song it came along
And I like to somehow try and tell you.

Jennifer Juniper,
hair of golden flax.
Jennifer Juniper
longs for what she lacks.
Do you like her ?
Yes, I do, Sir.
Would you love her ?
Yes, I would, Sir.
Whatcha doing Jennifer, my love ?

I'm not going to tell you which name ultimately won. I'm just trying to tell you that, based on my precarious entry in to this world, the lyrics of both songs make me weep with thanksgiving and love for my parents.

I answer to one of those names, but I would gladly answer to the other name, as well.

No comments: