What’s in a name?

As my last blog “A trip down cemetery lane” indicated, over the last few weeks I have been researching and building my paternal family’s ancestry tree and I must admit I could turn this little hobby into a full time occupation as it’s very interesting and very time consuming. However, the pay’s lousy so I guess I’ll stick to my day job.

Anyway, while building the ancestry tree it would have been easy to accidentally link-up non-ancestors with similar names.  Luckily many of the ancestors not only passed down the patrilineal (father’s) family name from generation to generation, they also passed on first names and luckily again they passed down the matrilineal (mother’s) family name which was usually given as a middle name.  For example if my great-grandfather was called William Wilson Jones and he married Helen Clarke, they would name their three children: William Wilson Jones, Tomas Clarke Jones and Patricia Clarke Jones.  Therefore, making the identification and linking of ancestors much easier.

This practise got me thinking about modern society and the names we give our children.  If our great-great-grandchildren research their family history are our current naming conventions going to confuse them?  Especially these days as we call our kids after popular TV characters, subculture names, or after animals and plants of no ancestry origin – of which I am a serial offender given the names I planned for my children.

When I was pregnant with my first born, I loved the name Summer.  Summer was a popular name of the hippy subculture, as was Sky, Rain or Dusk.  I’ve always been a bit of a hippy at heart, even in 1980 which was well past the 60′
s hippy era. Unfortunately for me, my husband hated the name and when my daughter was two days old, he called her Kristy.  I wasn’t opposed to the name, so I went with his suggestion secretly wishing I had won that battle.  The boy’s name we agreed on was Matthew.  I guess I couldn’t think of a male hippy name.

When I was pregnant with baby number two I really liked a female character in the soapy “The Young and the Restless”, her name was April and come hell or high water my baby girl was going to be called April.  Luckily for my son I had a boy’s name picked out – Joshua. The name Joshua was taken from the bible – this was a time when I was taking the two-way bet. See previous blog “The moment of enlightenment”. These days Joshua insists his friends call him Josh.  His siblings and I get away with calling him Joshua.

What a shame I didn’t like the name April when I had my daughter three years earlier as she was born in April.

And then there was my third pregnancy where I fell in love with a character in a novel by V.C. Andrews called “Heaven”. The character’s name was “Heaven Leigh”.   Don’t laugh; Heaven Leigh Casteel was a lovely girl and her story was followed through with a series of five books of which I’ve only read three.  Knowing this name may cause waves, I ran it by my family – they thought I’d finally lost the plot or was suffering from some type of sickness through my pregnancy.  But I wasn’t too concerned; I still had my backup name, April.

Anyway, I had another boy and luckily for him I had a boy’s name ready – Tylan, a name I created.  I fell in love with the name Ty when I was pregnant and attending Motor X racers with my husband, who at the time was racing against a lovely young man called Ty.  Although I loved the name Ty, I wasn’t a big fan of shortened names and I didn’t like the racer’s full name which was “Tyronne”.  My daughter was 6 years old at the time and there was a little fat kid named Tyronne in her class, he also attending the same swimming lessons.  His mother was a lovely lady, but the kid – well I wanted to drown him as did the swimming instructor.

Other long versions of Ty were Tyran or Tyron – both sounded like “tyrant”. So I played around with the alphabet and came up with Tylan.  When my husband rang my Auntie with the news of the birth and the baby’s name, she said “why on earth would you call a baby after an Asian country?” mistaking Tylan for Thailand. To this day, we’ve never come across another boy or girl called Tylan.

And let us not forget the ridiculous names handed to the children of our popular personalities such as the model Jordan (aka Katie Price) and her ex-husband Peter Andre, naming heir baby daughter Princess Tiaamii – oh please, if she takes after her big-titty mummy, she’s got a hope in hell of being a princess.  And there’s Apple – WTF?  Does this mean the other siblings will be called Mandarin or Kiwi Fruit?

And what about Bob Geldof and Paula Yates kids Fifi Trixibell, Peaches and Pixie?  Which leads me to believe both Bob and Paula were spending most of their nights high as kites. And by the time Paula was with Michael Hutchence and named their baby Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily – well it was only a matter of time.  BTW..it’s not that I minded the Heavenly but the rest of the name?

And as Juliet Capulet said; ”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet” may downplay the importance of one’s name but names really are important, they define who we are and where we come from.  So I think society as a whole should really think about the names we give our children, the history they carry and the ability for our future generations to trace where they come from and where they are going.

A trip down cemetery lane

When I was young, together with my Mum, Aunties and Nan, visited our dead relies in the local cemetery at least half a dozen times a year for various occasions such as birthdays, mother’s and father’s day, Easter and Xmas.  We’d even visit on other occasions just to do a tidy-up,  maybe a weed or two needed to be pulled from between the cement cracks, leaves cleared and the constant clearing and replacing of the previously left flower arrangements.

We even cleaned the empty slots in the columbarium wall reserved for my Nan, before she moved in, and the slots reserved for my Aunties.  I always found this a little unnerving – housekeeping the final resting place before moving in, but my Aunties don’t seem to be too bothered by it, they’re just happy to have a nice clean slot prettied up with some flowers next to my Nan and Pop’s freshly shined plagues.

On these visits we’d do the rounds of all the relies and every time I’d ask lots of questions about who was who and how they died.  Funnily enough these were happy
Since moving to Sydney my visits to the family cemetery have been limited, but on one visit a couple of years ago I took my eldest son, much to his initial lack of excitement. However, I enjoyed the role change from the once child being led to the adult leading the child telling the same stories, or what I could remember.

Also, to prove my families love for visiting the cemetery I must tell you the story of one of my trips to the country where prior to going to my Aunties, I dropped into the cemetery to visit the dead family – as you do.  Unbeknownst to me my Aunties also decided to drop over before I arrived at their place.  So there we were, in the Cemetery, each other not knowing the other’s intention to visit that day. To make this meeting all the more enjoyable we bumped into a two other groups of whom we new very well. They too were visiting their dead family – don’t ya just love a small country town.  It’s a shame we didn’t take a packed lunch and turn it into a real shindig.

Another visit to a cemetery happened only recently albeit an impromptu, unplanned visit.  This time with my three kids, son-in-law and grandkids. The cemetery is at Parramatta, across from my son’s place is one of the first cemeteries of the early settlers. Since we parked in front I couldn’t resist the urge to do a walk around as it had been a while. Although my son-in-law was bored out of his brain, thankfully my kids got into the event, we even found the grave of Gregory Blaxland, one of the three explorers first to cross the Blue Mountains.  A trip to the cemetery with a history lesson thrown in – better than a lesson in the classroom wouldn’t you say?

My latest renewed interest started with a visit from my Aunties (the ones who have reserved slots in the columbarium wall) at Easter time this year. This Easter also included Anzac day. During Anzac week www.ancestry.com.au offered free access so we took up the offer.  One thing led to another and before the day was out (after about 7 hours online) I had traced my paternal Grandmother’s family back to the 1500s while running into the odd convict or two – which by-the-way was a proud moment for me.  There’s nothing that says you’re an Aussie more than having a convict in your family tree.  And yes I know it’s not my biological family tree but I’m sure there are a few bastards on the tree and I’m proud to be one myself.

What’s this got to do with cemeteries you ask?  Well, when you’re doing a family tree on the Internet it’s very easy to link the wrong people, whether it’s one ancestor to another family’s ancestor, or as I did, the wrong husband and wife. It wasn’t until I searched the cemetery database, which includes a picture of the headstone, that I was able to link up the right husband and wife team – I’m sure they will be eternally grateful.

And this my friend is what has renewed my latest interest in cemeteries. So much that I’m going to plan a weekend in Sofala (a place where the convict ancestors came to after they were released from incarceration) and taking into account they had a many children, the local cemetery should be swarming. And I think I’ll be like a little girl in a cookie store.

So I’ll finish this blog and do a search on cemetery holidays.  I’m sure they exist.  And I’ll also leave you with this task – go to the cemetery your family is resting in or if that’s not possible go to the nearest cemetery and walk around, I’m sure you’ll have a blast – and don’t forget to take the kids.