Recently I’ve been thinking about changing my name. Not completely and not to avoid any criminal charges, but because I feel a growing need to do right by one of grandparents that I feel was jipped by nature, and neglected by parents when it came to his grandchildren.
Grandad B – I’ll call him here – had two daughters in Australia, both of which married and took the last names of their husbands. My mum was one. At the time she got married she asked if she could keep her family name as a middle name but my father, being the control freak that he is, wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t tradition, so he wasn’t having any of it. To me it was an example of following tradition for tradition sake; or as I like to call it, being a lemming and running off a cliff for being a lemmings sake. After grandad B’s last unmarried daughter walked down the isle he effectively lost the sole remaining person who could do something to carry his name onward to a next generation.
During the early years of my life whenever school holidays would roll around, my family would pack me and my sister up and send us off to the grandparents who lived in a large country town about 500 kilometers south of the Tropic of Capricorn line on the Queensland coast. Both sets of oldies lived there, but one family lived in the town while the other ones lived in a remote area by the sea some 60 kilometers outside. Back then the only roads were dirt tracks heavily pocketed by small rocks and potholes. The going was slow between the two houses and when the rain hit the tracks could become impassable for weeks. For some reason I couldn’t work out back then we spent most of our time with our father’s parents and very little with mum’s. When I was young this was fine as the sea was an endless source of fun and work, but the older I got the more I found I had more in common with mum’s dad, grandad B. It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I started to see him for what grandad B really was, a wise old man that had lived a life taking enjoyment from every day. He had not been an angel, and subsequently could tell some roaring stories of the “good old days”. By comparison dad’s parents were staid puritanical teetotalers that turned having a good time into something you should expect to regret.
Grandad B passed away right when him and I were getting to know each other well. I remember him now as a man who knew a lot more than others gave him credit for, and for speaking plainly about any subject you would talk about. Political correctness was not his way, just the honest truth as he observed it.
It’s grandad B’s family name that I want to take as my middle name so that I can posthumously give him the gift of seeing his name carry on. I’ll give it to my kids and make sure it stays in the family. He’d probably laugh about it, but at the same time, I think deep down there would be a sense of pride in the honour it would accord him. More than likely he’d make a joke about it.
I’m not sure if I will yet, the paperwork is a fucking nightmare, more so when you’re an expat and you don’t have current residency in your country of birth. I could see this becoming a paperwork Gordian knot for years if there is a problem in the early stages. Still, even faced with this, I am thinking it would be worth it. Sometimes an act like this takes on bigger dimensions in your life than the problems any bureaucracy can cause.
The What’s in a name? by Mentalechoes, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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