Several years ago a former part-time employee at the radio station where I used to work called me to bring me up to date about his life. After he described his new job and his new house, Craig said he had a beautiful new daughter. After much consideration, he had decided to name her after me. Craig mentioned that if he had had a son, the boy would have been given my name. Anyway, his little girl was named Jaye. The ending “e” was added to feminize the name.
To say I was surprised and honored is putting it lightly. I had no idea that Craig, nor anyone else, would ever name their child after me. After hanging up the phone, I had a million thoughts racing through my head. That a former coworker named his first-born child after me was humbling. As I remember the conversation today, I still feel many of the same emotions.
My mother was named for the movie actress Myrna Loy. Even mom’s middle name, Lea, was a salute to the famous woman. To carry on the namesake tradition, mom told me she named my sister after her favorite entertainer, Debbie Reynolds. On the other hand my brother and I were not the namesakes of anyone famous or popular.
My childhood best friend Jeff was named after his mom’s favorite movie star, Jeffrey Hunter. Another boy in the neighborhood was the namesake of Andy Griffith. A classmate, also named Andy, was the namesake of President Andrew Jackson. Another classmate, Edwin, had a name inspired by actor Ed Wynn, his sister was the namesake of Katharine Hepburn. My brother’s best pal Greg was named after Gregory Peck.
Namesakes apply to places as well as people. Many years of my childhood were spent in the capital city of Nebraska, named after our 16th President. A an old friend relocated to the state named for our first President. There are places that are the namesakes of other places like New Hampshire, New York, and Paris, Texas.
Trying to come up with namesakes is also a fun game for the family during long car trips. At least it was for our family.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes a thought from writer Salman Rushdie. “Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the Earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit.”