Thursday, 14 August 2008

What's in a name?

I was a member of staff in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts between 1980 and 1984, as well as being Vicar at St. Christopher’s Church in Chicopee, MA.

One of my diocesan colleagues was Canon W.D. Crockett. That middle initial stands for “David”, and yes, he was “Davie Crockett”.

He was a short man, but filled with pep and vinegar. Everyone loved Davie Crockett. He preached for me one Sunday at St. Christopher’s. The lesson had something to do with the name of Jesus (probably Philippians 2:1-11) and I can still hear Canon Crockett’s opening words.

“What’s in a name?” he said.

David’s wife was Eleanor. She was a bit vague around the edges, and none of us were surprised when she later succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. She was with us that day at St. Kit’s and I asked a nice woman to sit with Eleanor Crockett for the service.

But I “almost died” with laughter when that woman, at coffee hour, introduced Eleanor to another congregant with the words “I want you to meet my friend “Biffy Crickett”. For the longest time thereafter David and I would refer to his wife as “Biffy”!

Names: What’s in a name?

I have always been happy with my names, John and Michael. I am John in England and Michael in these United States. I am grateful that Mum and Dad gave me such “normal” names. After all, I could have been called “Felix Peregrine”. (Look up the entomology of those names to get my humour).

So it is my joy to remember first names at Res. House.

One woman is called Tara, but her middle name is Faye. She giggles with delight when I call her Tara Faye.

Another woman (in her seventies) is Mary Wilson. I told her that the late Prime Minister of England was knighted and became known as Sir Harold Wilson. His wife was Mary; hence she became Lady Mary Wilson.

So I always call our guest “Lady Mary”. She beams with pleasure, and it is more than a joke. Despite her homelessness she is indeed “Lady Mary”. I frown and grunt when other volunteers call her “Mare”.

Then we have three young men with the unusual first name of “Cornelius”. They are each aware that this is a biblical name. One of them is an outrageous and funny gay man. I call him “Queen Cornelius”. He is tickled pink by this moniker.

One of the service clerks at my local Publix supermarket is Christopher. I asked him if he knew the meaning of his name (“Christ-bearer). He did not, so I filled him in.

A few weeks later he stopped me. He said “My Dad asked me the other day if I knew the meaning of my name. I was happy to tell him ‘yes’, a customer at Publix told me!”

A check out woman there is “Marina”. I asked her today if she knew that a deceased member of the British Royal House was Princess Marina”.


The checkout clerk knew all about it. She related that soon after she was born her mother’s friends would ask her “what kind of a name is Marina?”. The mother would reply “If it’s good enough for a Princess, then it’s good enough for my daughter”.

Names are important. I named one of my cats "Adelaide" mostly because I love that name. Besides which, one of my favourite young teenagers in Pittsfield was Adelaide,

The other cat is "Ada", named for a favourite Great Aunt.

Let's have more Adelaides and Adas!

Enjoy your name!

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy my name and I assume I've told you it is totally different from the one I grew up with - legally changed and all.