What’s in a Name?

written-names-15374519My parents named me Calandra Yvette Campbell. You can imagine the jokes I endured when I was growing up. I was called everything from Calendar to Campbell Soup. I was also a very sensitive child, so it really bothered me. The Campbell part wasn’t so bad…it was Calandra. Fortunately it isn’t too difficult to pronounce, but I was called Casandra quite often (and I still am!). The problem there is that my sister’s name happens to be Casandra. As I got older, I would turn the error into a joke and tell the person they were talking to my sister!

Growing up, my family and I spent many summers traveling by car down Interstate 95 to Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. I loved stopping by rest stops and truck stops to shop for souvenirs. Every summer, every stop had personalized keychains, but of course, I could never find my name. And I was crazy enough to keep looking, as if ONE day I would find a keychain, pen or T-shirt that actually came with my name on it. Certainly this name game was not über traumatic, nor life-changing, but for a long time, I did not embrace my given name. The other day, I was speaking with a co-worker who told me her favorite fragrance was an old scent called Calandré. She thought I had never heard of it. I laughed because my mind wandered back to age 7 or 8, when one of the older physicians at the clinic where my mother was working at the time told me there was a fragrance that was similar to my name – Calandré. That was the day I started embracing my name. As I got older, I realized that Calandra is an Italian surname – John D. Calandra was a famous New York State Senator from the Bronx. There is a school there named after him, and every time we passed that school, I smiled when I saw ‘my name’ on the building!

A few years later, I learned that my father had named me. My sister’s name is Casandra René. He merely changed the ‘s’ to an ‘l’ and Calandra was born, so to speak. I also learned that he had given my sister and I French middle names. I think it was either because he liked the language or because it was one of his favorite countries he visited while in the Service. Not only did I now embrace my name, but I learned it’s origin. Never again would I have anything negative to say or think about my name. Never again would I wish for a simpler name that everyone could say properly. In fact, once I went to college, my unusual name became a social asset, as I was often told it was a beautiful name 🙂 Over the years, I have become a strong advocate for giving a child a name with some meaning. Give your child a story to tell – even if it’s just that they were named after someone else in the family. We named our son Isidoa Branch, III – his story is that he is named after his father and grandfather, who was named after another relative. It is not of Jewish origin, as in Isidore, but it is a Native American name. Interestingly enough, Izzy is a little upset that he doesn’t have a middle name! When our daughter was born, we wanted to honor my father’s memory by giving her the names he had given my sister and me, so she is Yvette René.

I love names; they tell a story. They can paint a small portrait of your family’s history. Names can preserve a memory forever. Does your name have a story?

(31WriteNow Challenge Day 21)