Identity in a Name

This is the third essay written this summer.  I have additional topics to write, but the lack of time to complete them.  Somewhere along the line, I will get it done. 

Every individual has a name.  This title becomes a beckoning call, a sound registering discipline, a connection to unknowns, yet it is your very own name that will identify you in an infinite number of ways.

Naming a child is a responsibility that parents take seriously—or should.  The name develops an identity that follows its holder for a lifetime.  It is sometimes positive and other times negative.

When the second pregnancy became viable, and the child began developing its own personality (and they do in utero) the process begins to identify just who this little person is going to be.  The criterion is established and for me it was clear:  it had to be family-based and it had to have meaning.

Murray Jordan McCrary was the result of a dictated initial structure and a compromise in order to avoid adding another Jim or John to the family tree.  The pattern was M. J. McCrary that was to be preserved.

During the 1980’s no definite predictions or decisions were made to the sex of the coming baby, so locating a name usually meant finding two names.  Oddly enough, I do not remember ever trying to decide on a girl’s name.

The MJ initials had not been maintained in the family and since Grandpa Murray had died in 1978, there had not been a male child born to take on that name.  Therefore, the struggle began to find a name for this child, who most certainly was going to be a boy.

The weeks were slipping past, and one day I got home from school first.  I picked up the baby name book and began yet another search of “j” names.  In a short time, because your dad was home shortly, I read Jordan.  I read the meaning of the word, and then read the meaning of Murray.  I knew then, I had found the name and I could hardly wait for your dad to get home.

Let me explain:  Murray means sailor, Jordan represents the river.  Therefore, Jordan was to be a sailor on the river.  Additionally, Jordan means descended which placed a clear relationship to the genealogical connection to his grandfather whom he would never know.

I was in the kitchen getting supper together when your dad got home.  I had laid the book down in the living room.  When your dad got home, he went right into the front room, and in a short time, he yelled it out, “What about Jordan?”

Dropping supper preparation, I went into the front room and realized there was nothing left to decide.  Murray Jordan McCrary was a name that provided an identity, connected the generations, and had just a great sound to it.  I could not have been happier.

And family connections are important.  The name is one’s personal label; it becomes part of one’s identity.  The meaning of the name pulls on all of mankind’s history.  The name shouts out inventions, historical decisions, eras, and—unfortunately—tragedies, horrific behaviors and more.  M. Jordan McCrary would not be forgotten but only the future would determine the reason.

Neither would a sister who came along two years later.  Having lost the twins in the first pregnancy and knowing that the possibility of twins was very real due to the use of Clomed, choosing a name meant choosing two names.  And choosing two names in 1985 meant choosing four names because identifying the sex of the baby was not an option yet.

Therefore, selecting the names this pregnancy was a much more detailed process, and sadly the names are slipping from my memory.  I know one was Simon Christian and a second was Isaac Samuel, I believe.  The girls names were Suzanna Mae and Vada Elizabeth.  Or at least those are the four names that I remember 28 years later.

Keeping the criteria was still important—family and meaning.  But with only one little girl born, the names choices boiled down to Vada Elizabeth.  Your dad wanted a first name that would be easy for Jordan to say, remember he was only two at this time, and I wanted to use Elizabeth for my mom.

Looking for the first name was the challenge.  There was too many names which are reused too often, and none seemed to meet the criteria.  Then your dad shared the story of his great aunt, Vada.

Aunt Vada was known for her style, for her cooking, and for her upbeat way of doing things.  Living as a farmer’s wife in northwest Missouri, the stories of her included some special descriptions:

  • she was a great cook,
  • wherever she went, she would run rather than walk,
  • she was a stylish dresser (shopping in St. Joe as the top of the line stores),
  • and she always had a smile on her face.

Even though I never met Aunt Vada, I felt that the stories gave me a great picture of who she was.  Her identity was probably not going to be duplicated, but if it could influence this little girl in a positive way—it was the perfect choice.

Add the meanings to the name, the combination of the two were full of promise:

Vada means the truth while Elizabeth “consecrated to God.”  The decision was made, Jordan could easily say Vada, and the due date approached.

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