Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Naming of children

Because "Motes" is so short we only considered names of more than two syllables for our son. The Bible seemed a good place to look -Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zachariah. I liked the sound of Obadiah. Not for a young man, but what a tombstone: "Here lies Obadiah Motes." He'd have to go West for that one. In the end we decided on Bartholomew.

But when the nurse popped in to ask me what name had been chosen, I said, "I like the name Matthew." Fine, said the nurse, that's a nice name for your son. "Oh, no, it's not his name," said I. "I just like the sound of 'Matthew'. Don't you?" It had been a long night.
We got clear after a bit that actually Bartholomew's name was going to be Bartholomew and the nurse asked me to spell it because she couldn't spell it. But neither could I. That morning there seemed to be too many 'o''s.

So Bart started off as Bartholemew and of course, became almost immediately Bart- (though he does have orchid names in both forms: Some plant or two, called "Bart" for friends and Ascocenda Bartholomew Motes for prospective bosses or mothers-in-law.)

It was easy with Alice. "Alice" was a favorite from the start, both the Wonderland bit and the fact that it was less shopworn, (enough with the Sarahs and Rachels!) and for a touch of familial piety. Alice was the name of my mother's beloved sister who died too young. But when I presented my mother with the news, she just said, "Oh, yes." And that was it.

Admittedly, we are English and my mother is the very Anglo-Saxon side, but still. I'd forgotten that when it came to naming children her attitude had always been pretty spacey.

I'd asked her why was my brother called James Harvey. Nobody anywhere in the family was or had ever been a James, let alone a Harvey- a name I'd never even heard, apart from the rabbit. And she said she couldn't remember why "James" but Harvey was the name of the village blacksmith and when the godfather hadn't turned up for the christening, they asked the blacksmith to fill in.

Then there was the question of my name. My mother, having lost her brother when he was twelve and then her beloved Alice, said she didn't believe in God. So, why, said I in my Christopher-Columbus-Age-of-Discovery-years, why was I called Mary Christine?
No-one in the family was a Mary or a Christine. "Why am I named Mother of God and Follower of Christ?"
And my mother said "Um," in the good old English way. She didn't know why.

But I'm just the same: my brother's cat was called Mittens but for the life of me I can't remember why I called my cat Sam.


  1. Well, I do not know anything about naming orchids or even of naming kids; but I have named a few cats.

    Wiggles was the little kitten that showed up on my door step at one week old and with no mother to take care of him. I ended up bottle feeding him. Everytime he was fed, he would squirm and wiggle so much that he ended up with the name of Wiggles. He was an adorable cat.

    My Prince Harry is named after Prince Harry of England. My Prince is quite royal and so he had to have a royal name.

    Then there is Casper. Of course Casper is as white as a ghost. What else could I have named him.

    Then there is Nightlight. Now, Nightlight is a tortoise shell kitten and she is pitch black with streaks of gold. Those golden streaks reminded me of a nighlight shining in the dark. Little Blackie is, of course, both very little and he is pitch black.

    Charcoal is large and big boned and sort of lumpy and is charcoal grey. Charlie, well, sort of like you; I am not sure why he is named Charlie. He is just a Charlie. I wanted a good English name. I wonder why I did not name him Charles. I guess he was not formal enough for a Charles.

    Ah, yes, then there is Momma. Of course Momma is the momma of many of the kittens in the neighborhood, except she has now been fixed. Then there was Minnie. Minnie was a strange cat. He was a tortoise shell cat also and she was the momma of Nightlight. But Minnie, when she first showed up was very, very, skinny. We called her Skinny Minnie. Eventually, she gained weight and the "skinny" part was dropped. Someone had abandoned Minnie and I do not think she ever got over it.

    Shy Kitty was just that "shy". So shy that no one could even approach her. She just showed up one day. No one knows where she came from. She stayed around because we fed her and took care of her. We got her fixed so she would not populate the neighborhood. We had to catch here in a trap. She was too shy for us to even pick her up. Even though she would not let up help her in any way, she stayed with us till the end. She crawled under a bush one day and just died. No one knows why. We had her cremated and we still have her ashed on the shelf in the living room, right next to our beloved Wiggles.

  2. I was named after my cousin.... Naeema