What’s in a name?
Is there anything to learn from my family's genealogy?
I never really thought there was until a recent conversation with my son David.
He is the one person in our family interested in this sort of thing. In my experience, every family has their genealogy researcher. David is ours.
Being an on-purpose person, David is doing this research to learn the first names of the prior generations and to learn something about these relatives. He and his wife are preparing for the arrival of their first child. With God's help, they will have a baby girl in three months.
But what to call her.
This is his reason for doing the research. I thought this was a very thoughtful approach to deciding a name for a new arrival. I still remember Kathy and me going through baby name books just before our children were born.
I was going to name my son David Victor. I went to work and shared the idea with my CFO at the time. He thought for a moment and said, "Vic Paparelli. Sounds like a Las Vegas lounge act." And that is how David avoided being called Victor.
Names are important. My observation in life is almost all people I meet fit their name. I can't quite explain what I mean by this, but I know it to be true. I meet a person called Maggie, and I think, "She is a Maggie." The same is true with Chuck versus Charlie versus Charles. The name fits the person's physical presence and personality.
I’ve always wondered if people grow into their name, or is there something supernatural to be given their name by their parents?
David started telling me the first names of my grandmothers and grandfathers. I met two of the four, but two of my grandparents had already passed because I was a late arrival. And the two I met had little interaction with me as they were already advanced in age. We also discussed the names of my great-grandmothers and grandfathers, which I had never heard before.
But the conversation took an interesting turn.
We started talking about what other people, older than me, in my family remembered about these earlier generations. And this is what they remembered: How kind the person was to them. It struck me that all that was remembered about all these people David never met was how they treated others.
The stories were about love, generosity, and kindness.
"What stories will future generations be told about me?" I thought to myself.
The stories that will be told are being recorded right now.
What will the family say about me when I am just a name, birth date, and occupation on a genealogy tree diagram? I know the researcher is going to ask. I know there will be conversations.
What will they say?
David and his wife were thinking about naming their daughter after one of these Paparellis. This creates a name with significance. Not just a name out of this year's edition of the baby names book. One day, this child will ask, "Where did you get my name?" And the answer will be a story of love, generosity, and kindness.