What’s in a Name?

Long ago, naming our children took precedence over everything else…

“I’m pregnant,” I said, in a woo-hoo! kind of way. Rudy smiled that I‘m feeling pretty good right now smile of his as he wrapped me in his arms, and laughed that gentle laugh of his. That laugh that said so much. “¡Gracias Dios Mio!” he blurted, raising his arms to the heavens.

As the initial excitement began to calm, we realized a very important decision was now in order. “What will we name the baby?” we both questioned in unison. We also wanted the surprise element of the baby’s gender, so we needed to be considerate of a boy and a girl.

Fortunately, for the two of us, we knew our children would be given family names. One name from my family, one from Rudy’s. A first name. A middle name. That narrowed down our options, therefore making the process a bit easier.

“If the baby is a boy, how about your name? He could be a junior,” I offered. “No. That’s okay. I’m not sure I like my name enough to pass on,” Rudy stated matter-of-factly.

We pondered the names in our families; the choices: maternal and paternal grandfathers, brothers, and uncles were said aloud. We combined them; one as the first name, another as the middle name, and then switched the order. Nothing felt 100% just right. We moved on to girl names. A just as consuming test – which took months, mind you!

“I really want to name her after my mom, using her middle name, Elizabeth,” I said, as I felt my heart soften, thinking about naming my daughter after my sweet, kind-hearted mom. “I like that,” Rudy said. “I was thinking of Victoria, after my grandma. We would visit her a lot when I was a kid. When it was time to leave I would always run out to the tree in the front yard of her house and hug its trunk so hard that my parents had to struggle to pry me away. You see, I didn’t want to leave Grandma Victoria. She made me happy.” I became teary-eyed thinking of little Rudy crying, screaming. This was going to be harder than we thought, we suddenly realized. Rudy also liked his ambitious, intelligent sister Cecilia’s name. I considered my middle name Anne, too. Anne with an e.

This serious do-not-want-to-pick-a-name-that-will-harm-the-future-of-our-child-by-picking-the-wrong-name job produced two candidates. For a girl baby. Elizabeth Cecilia and Victoria Anne.

After I had delivered our child, Rudy by my side, and him being overwhelmed by, and amazed with the process of birth, he kissed my puffy – just had a child – face. He had a tear in his eye and quietly whispered “That was amazing! I want to name her Elizabeth Cecilia, after your mom and my sister.” I smiled, lay my head back, and sighed with relief.

Three years later Rudy was in Honduras, with Elizabeth and my niece, a full week before I was to arrive. His sister was getting married. Little did he know that I had a surprise for him. “I’m pregnant!” I cried as I fell into his arms when he greeted me at the arrival gate. Rudy hugged me, Elizabeth hugged me. My niece hugged me. “¡Gracias Dios Mio!” he shouted, as he raised his arms to the heavens.

Again, family names filled our daily thoughts. The name Victoria Anne sat quietly in our minds, waiting for her turn, if we were to have another girl.

“I really admire my dad,” I simply stated. “Yet, in my family all the first boys were named John so I think it’s best to leave it that way.” Rudy, too, admired my dad, and also agreed with my thoughts on why we shouldn’t name a son after him. “Well, my brother Bill meant a lot to me. Before he died in a car accident when he was 19, he always made time for me. Maybe we can use his name, William?” I questioned. Rudy nodded, knowing how much Bill meant to me, having heard my many stories. “I like the name Roberto, which is my younger brother’s middle name, and my blue-eyed uncle first name,” he said, seemingly deep in thought about those he cares for. The name Roberto seemed so foreign to me, like those Spanish intonations just didn’t know how to roll on my OC tongue. I kept those thoughts to myself.

Months later, as I struggled to get off the couch, to answer the phone, my water broke. “My water broke!” I yelled, hoping Rudy was near enough to hear me.

After securing Elizabeth with a downstairs neighbor, Rudy drove me to the hospital to deliver our second child. But wait! Seriously, did we forget something?! Yep. A camera to capture the moment (when I held my child for the first time). While Rudy returned home to retrieve the video camera, I began to hyperventilate. Unusual for me, which made the experience worse. I was given, what I seem to remember as a paper lunch bag, but was probably actually an oxygen mask, to help soothe me. Rudy returned as quickly as possible, within minutes, it seemed, of the birth. “Its a boy,” the doctor stated. Rudy hugged me. “So, what is our son’s name?” I asked him. Rudy smiled, that smile that makes him even better looking smile of his. “Roberto William.” Perfectly named. “I love it,” I said with exhaustion. I was willing to work the name into my life, to roll it off my tongue, to make it a part of who we had become – an interracial family.

Eight years later, I handed Rudy the home pregnancy (test kit) wand. He looked at the + sign. He looked at me, wide-eyed. “¡Gracias Dios Mio!” he gleefully cheered, once again sending his arms up toward the heavens.

Naming our last, and final, child now included the involvement of Elizabeth and Roberto. When I went in for a check up and the nurse asked if we’d like to know the sex of the child, before we could even consider our options, the kids – didn’t scream, but were pretty darn close to scaring the other patients – said, “Yes! Please Mom and Dad?” Rudy and I looked at each other, smiled and gave the OK nod and a thumbs up. “It’s a boy!” the nurse happily told Elizabeth and Roberto.

“Bradford,” I said. “Let’s name him Bradford in honor of our marriage. Named after the place where we were married. Let’s have his first name be a surname, like Palmer, on All My Children.” Huh? Rudy’s expression wondered. “Bradford? It sounds like Buford. Like an overbearing rich guy,” he sneered. I laughed. I was really keen on the idea, even though it diverted away from our family names. I figured I had some months to get Rudy used to the idea. “I think Ramon would be good. It was my brother Scott’s middle name. Remember how, a month or so before he died, he shook your hand? A gesture that said ‘I like you. I can see you care for my sister. Sorry if I was ever rude….’. I think to honor his memory would be great. It was also my paternal grandfather’s name. Double great.” Rudy listened, really took to heart in what I was saying. “I want to use my middle name, Antonio, too,” he confirmed. “Well, I have, also, always wanted to give a child of mine two middle names, just as my parents did with my older brother Jim,” I added.

We spent months bouncing names around, listened to the input of soon-to-be big sister  Elizabeth and big brother Roberto.

When our third child was born, our son, was named Bradford Ramon Antonio.

All three children’s names warm my soul when I say the names out loud, or if I hear them as they float into one ear and gently, quietly, climb out the other.

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