Sunday, January 2, 2011

What's in a Name: Jesús Wolf Bunting

Our poor Casey.  Granddaughter and niece, she has to deal with the strangeness that is our family.  Her only hope for normalcy is her Dad’s family.

About four years ago (when she was four years old), Casey, her Aunt (and my daughter) Beni, and I were sitting at the kitchen table talking.  Out of the blue, Beni says to Casey, “We’ve decided to change your name to Jesús.”  Casey looks slightly bewildered but, already familiar with our craziness, she continues on with our conversation.  Beni says, “No, Jesús, we’re serious; we’re changing your name.”  Casey says, “I like being Casey.  I don’t want to be called Jesús.”  I decide to join Beni in ganging up on Casey and say, “Well, it’s already been done.  You’re now Jesús Wolf Bunting.”  Casey starts to wonder: “Have these insane people really done this?” and she gets a little adamant: “I am not changing my name.”  Beni and I repeat that the deed is done and her name now is Jesús.  Casey finally lays down the law: her name will NOT be Jesús, and she goes a little ballistic.  By this time, Beni and I are hysterically laughing.  Finally we tell her it’s all a joke and that she is, and always will be, Casey.  Only four years old, Casey already was looking at life as Casey.  She had accepted her name and, obviously, grown to like it.  Or, at least, grown to prefer it to Jesús.

I enjoyed the naming process for our daughters.  I especially love Sarah Margaret and Rebecca Hope.  Both names are combinations of (1) the names of strong Old Testament women, and (2) the names of beloved family members.  When we discovered we were having twins, and when everybody kept calling the babies in utero “Baby A” and “Baby B,” it seemed to me that we should give the babies names that started with “A” and “B.”  When we met them in the delivery room, and saw that they both were girls, the “A” name came fairly easily.  Our daughter, Sarah, was obsessed with the character of Little Orphan Annie from the movie, Annie.  So Baby A (the first born of the two) was named Annie or, more formally, Anna.  Baby B’s name wasn’t quite so simple.  I finally suggested to Beni that we name Baby B after her.  Beni, exhausted after carrying twins for nine months and having just delivered, would have agreed to anything, even, I bet, Beelzebub.  So Baby B became Beni.  We gave both of the girls the middle name “Marie” after my mother’s sister, my godmother and favorite Aunt.

That last naming decision has caused almost 30 years of confusion.  Having two people with the same name in one family is not an easy thing to deal with.  All kinds of confusion have resulted from that spur–of–the–moment decision.  We deal with it, but at least five times a year, the senior Beni reminds me what a lame–brained decision it was.

So Casey remains Casey and not Jesús, both Beni’s are still Beni, and all of us love the people behind the names.

If I were going to be mean, I’d end by talking about the senior Beni’s real name, but I don’t want to spend the new year in divorce court.

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