November 16, 2004

Two Jerks and a Baby; One Man and a Lady

The surname my biological father bestowed upon me was packed neatly away when my mother finally married David. It was attached to my school records and files at the beginning of one school year, with promises of documentation to be produced later. Somewhere in the shuffle of report cards and testings, the demand for proof ceased and I had finally, without the blessing of the state of Oklahoma, changed my name.

It wasn't until I was living in Missouri in the middle of my junior year of high school, that I sought the permission of the county judge for the last remnants of Jack's empty and faceless heritage to be removed from me. I felt like I was in a state of appellation limbo, not really Jack's and definitely not David's. The name change was merely an outward formality of conforming. I had to have a last name. I simply went with the one with which everyone was already familiar. At 16, the more "normal" one is to her peers, the less grief to be endured. I wanted no questions.

Though I bore the names of two men, both poor paternal poseurs, neither had any claim to me, to my heart, to be called "daddy" by my voice, to be the first man treasured in my soul. I sometimes find it ironic that I had to be married to actually bear the name of a man and a family who loved me and desired me for their own. No longer was I symbolically beleagured to my oppressor or simply the result of a divorce settlement.

I love my married name. I love the way it flows smoothly off the tongue. It is regal, beautiful, dignified. It says to those who know it: hard work, sacrifice, dependability, trust, character, integrity. But most of all, I love the man whom it represents.

Posted by Rae at November 16, 2004 02:41 PM

Wow, Rae. My goodness. I feel a deep calling as a man as I read your words. I also feel the pain of a teenage girl who wakes up able to put words to the reality of her life.
And, blessings on you and that good man of yours.

Posted by: Ben at November 16, 2004 03:44 PM

What a poignant post. The Lord also lets you bear His name in Christ-ian. He also has His own name that you will get once you get to the other side that only you and He will know...but you know that.

I bear the name of my bio dad. I am a II (2nd) and believe me, it was a SORE source of pain growing up. He abandoned us. I dealt with it in that my brother and I challenged each other to bring honor and grace to our names by treating our families differently than he did. We did not adopt our step-father's name. He didn't want us to. :-/

So...yeah I connected to your eloquent post.

Posted by: Randy at November 16, 2004 04:34 PM

David Nicholas "McCool"

Doesn't sound half bad.

on another note:
It's ironic that in a time when the divorce rate is so high, and a broken home practically a requirement for normalty, that genealogy is so fervently studied. People are desperate for some sense of honor, history, integrity to bestow upon their name.

When we were in Paris touring the Paris Opera i saw a 19th Century painting of a dignified gentleman who possessed my last name (or I his?)
Also the two main roads that radiate from the Palace in Versailles (Rue Du North and South) as they become smaller streets and approach the palace are also carry my last name. see ya


Posted by: nick at November 16, 2004 05:16 PM

For at least three generations, the father's name has come down the line to their oldest son.
My Grandfather was George.
My Dad is Raymond George.
I'm Jeremy Raymond.

My mother, named me Jeremy Ray; its on my birth certificate. But somehow, for some reason, during my comming of age (around 16 or so) I decided I wanted my middle name to be Raymond. So I unofficially changed it. However it appears on all my major documents now, so its pretty much official.

Mom didn't appreciate it at the time, but I think Dad really liked it.
Eventually, Mom came around to the idea.

I'm pretty sure my first born son will bear the middle name of Jeremy. In my dreams, his name is Westley.

Posted by: Jeremy at November 16, 2004 05:17 PM

Thank you, Ben. To be an upstanding father that demonstrates the love of God to his children will have such a deep and lasting impact.

Randy- you are so right. That also has very special meaning for me, and I can't wait to see my real Father.

Nick- lol. Yes, it would look great on the cornerstone of buildings, wouldn't it? I am sometimes saddened that our mother had to work out her own issues with the men who fathered us. However, I am thankful that God brought to me a man far better that I was ever exposed to, or imagined existed.

Jeremy, my middle name is also our first daughter's middle name. She intends on carrying on the tradition and placing our middle name as her daughter's(should she have one).

Posted by: Rae at November 16, 2004 05:48 PM

Hey Rae,
I was lucky. My parents really loved each other, my mom passed last year and my dad is lost without her. He lives with me, so it can be difficult. They had their problems, but worked through them. Their 61 anniversary would be next week, Thanksgiving.

I was not so lucky. My kids have had to pay the price. Not going into ugly details and they are ugly. My daughter has wanted to take my maiden name, which I took back after the divorce. So far, I've been able to convince her differently, though she is 23 and nearly engaged.

My youngest son, barely 18 is asking the same, to take my maiden name. I do think this has more to do with their grandfather and uncle than myself, but I feel like they are attempting to throw off part of their identities.

Posted by: Kathianne at November 16, 2004 07:40 PM

Beautifully expressed, Rae.

Posted by: jeff at November 16, 2004 07:43 PM

Hmmm, we had discussed taking the middle name of my father and my father-in-law, "Edward," and using it in the name of our child if it turned out to be a son. Well, she wasn't a boy, so we dodged that one, which is good because our first dog, who we've had 5 years, is named Eddie.

"What a beautiful baby! He's got his daddy's nose, his mommy's eyes, and the dog's name!"


In the end, we think a daughter named Fiona Evelyn was not a half-bad thing.

Posted by: andy at November 16, 2004 08:46 PM

I have no good stories about my last name but my Husband has since the age of 15 beared his step father's (although that is not what he calls him, just "dad")last name and he wears it quite proudly I might add. Our children have been blessed with being named after their grandfathers which I think makes their grandpas really honored.
I have always loved your last name Rae. You are right in the fact that it flows so nicely. I am very proud to be called with my husband's last name also. I always hated my last name. Love you always! Sally

Posted by: Sally at November 17, 2004 10:38 AM

It has amazed me from the start how you both turned out so well. My best beloved and Nick. Nick is a man of great talent, intelligence and character. I believe that. Believe me I don't throw that out very often. Better make note.

Posted by: R at November 17, 2004 04:44 PM

Kathianne- I can only speak from my own experience, but if they are old enough and desire to do so, it may be very healing for them to take your maiden name. It can be too frequent a reminder of awful people and things when it is a name that must be signed and seen everywhere. Virtual wisdom thrown your way.

Thank you, Jeff.

Andy- I think Fiona Evelyn is just the sweetest name, so very feminine.

Sally, thank you. I think your husband is funny, compassionate, thoughtful, good-looking, a wonderful bestfriend and lover for you, and the best daddy to those little boys (hug them for me). And I love that you are reading and commenting more frequently :D

R- my love, thank you. (Nick, did you take note? ;)

Posted by: Rae at November 17, 2004 07:53 PM

As a single father who hasn't been able to experience ANY of the joys of parenthood...only the pain...I am not sure what to think...

My son is 16, he stopped talking to me last year, he has quit school and has severed all ties with me, and his mother SANCTIONS this!

For fourteen years I tried my damnedest to stay involved in my son's life, only to be denied at every opportunity SAVE TWO (his 1999 First communion and a parent teacher conference in 2000) by his mother, who had the 'nads to say to me when no one was within earshot that the only reason she kept me away from him was because she was afraid I would take her to court and have him taken away from her for incompetence.

Funny she mentioned that, since then he's been in trouble with the law to boot and she had him committed on his 13th birthday, shortly after that little conversation took place.

I just got tired of her BS, my son has suffered the consequences of her decisions...I just wish she could take her maiden name back. She has brought total shame to my family for her actions.

Damn her!

Posted by: Macker at November 17, 2004 10:37 PM

Wow, what a wonderful account. I hope that all girls from broken homes stay strong and follow your example of a realistic optimism so they might also enjoy a similar reward.

Great blog.

Posted by: m a r t i n @ b l o g b a t at November 17, 2004 10:37 PM

Note taken!

Posted by: Nick at November 17, 2004 11:55 PM

This means alot, i know R had his doubts about me when i was growing up with mom. It seems that every trait that i could stand to lose comes from her, but i know there are some mystery traits from David. Some of my favorite attributes are directly related to the diligence of my mother's attempted training.

Did you know mom was in Salt Lake City a few weekends ago for a conference?

Posted by: Nick at November 18, 2004 12:02 AM

Macker, I am sorry that your genuine efforts at respectable and admirable fatherhood have been denied. I know things like that happen to men of integrity. My prayers are with you.

Martin- thank you. If I may address your comments as well as Sir Nick's: our mother did contribute some very important, positive attributes such as love of music, culture, food, belief in God, capitalism and Ronald Reagan, a sense of classic fashion, art, the ability to distingush good literature, a love of history. I find that what didn't occur has affected me more so than what did, however, and most of my horrid memories stem from the men she choose to be a part of our lives and the aftermath of their departure. Knowing what I do about my mother's own life growing up has helped me deal with it.

I greatly admire her and am deeply grateful that she choose the harder road for giving me life. In 1969 to be both pregnant and divorced was not the easy road to take. She could have opted for a back-alley, illegal abortion, like many of her friends. To place personal dreams on the back burner in order to raise a child by herself was, not once, but twice, while dealing with the ultimate rejection, is more of a challenge than I have had to deal with. I have had my own. One of the greatest things we can do in this life to learn to reconcile our parents humanity with their parenting. It can be very hard to do.

Nick, we think you are a wonderful man and I think that while she wasn't perfect, you got the best slice of mom and I am so very, very thankful for that. You were like my firstborn and the thought of you suffering was more than I could bare. I prayed often for you when she was pregnant with you, and continued to do so while we were apart from one another, and still do. I love you, brother.

P.S. Yes, knew mom was in Salt Lake (Park City, actually). Unfortunately, her scheduled was a little too tight to make it here (it's a 5 hour drive). Sigh....another time.

Posted by: Rae at November 18, 2004 03:09 PM

This hits a little too close to home for me. I would love to erase my husband's name from mine, however, my children wear his name, and I don't want to be any less connected to them by changing back to my maiden name. Maybe someday I will find a man worthy and be proud to share his name, but for now I am kind of stuck. You are right, it is much easier to go with what is "normal", not so much explaining to do.

Posted by: joyella/ at November 19, 2004 03:15 PM

Joyella, thanks for commenting :)

I, too, hope that you will someday be with an honorable man, one worthy of sharing his name. For the record, I was glad that my mother and I shared the same last name. It gave us at some kind of connection, but I know you to be a far more loving and meticulous mom than I experienced, so regardless, they will love you and know that you love them.

Posted by: Rae at November 21, 2004 12:14 AM
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