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)


7 thoughts on “What's in a Name?

  1. As a woman with a unique name, I can relate to your beautiful blog. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I gave my daughter a greek name, Alecxis. Yes, spelt with a “c” because I also loved the Alec. Let me just tell you, she is faced with similar issues because of the c. LOL Alecxis will be 21, in October & she’s a textile design student at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. So, it will be unique to her because not many, if any have a name spelt like that. It may help her in the long run in the art world. 😊

    • Thank you so much for reading! And I’m sure that Alecxis will rock the world with her talent, and her name will be an artistic asset – she can say that her creativity came from her mother! Keep us posted and let us know how she’s doing. I’d be glad to take a look at her work and highlight some of it – that’s what the This and That With Calandra family is for!

  2. In grade school in the 60′ all the way to High School in the mid-late 70’s, I enjoyed the distinction of the name Casandra. There were no others and I was greeted with “Oh what a pretty name”. I learned the meaning of the word Unique because that is what most said my name was. Early on, I made Unique the word to describe my Personality. Teachers wanted to spell it with two “s’s” and tried to call nickname me Cassie. Neither offenses would I allow and to this day, will politely correct anyone trying to call me by any name other than the one My Parents had seen fit to give me. A Family rule was that Casandra was my school name and Rene, my family name. When I was in Junior high, a young man called the house asking for Casandra. My Paternal grandmother, who was visiting for Christmas with our grandpa, answered the phone, told the young man that there was no one by the name Casandra and Hung up on him! So accustomed to calling me René, she forgot my first name. When I was in college, I was home one day. Daddy was looking for something in the attic, slipped off of a board and fell through the ceiling. He caught a board under his arm and dangled from the ceiling. I raced up to the attic, pulled him back up and onto the board. Problem was, I positioned myself to hold his arm which was dislocated. He was in so much pain that I could not put his arm down to go call the ambulance. We stayed in our positions, me crouched over him holding his arm for Several hours. The One thing that enabled him to brace for the pain of me putting his arm down was the realization that my young sister would be coming home from school and would need to be let into the house. So, Daddy yelled in pain, and I cried in terror and Limped down to call for help. Sure enough, as I was on the phone, I opened the door for Calandra. OK, I’m coming to the point. The medics helped Dad from the attic and prepared him for the ambulance. One of the medics asked me basic questions for his form. When he asked my name, panicked, exhausted, shaken and wanting to give him the quick answer, I said René. Do you know that Edward Campbell, on the ambulance gurney, in excrutiating pain Corrected me by saying Don’t you Mean CASANDRA? correction noted and away he went, to the hospital. So yes. Childhood to Adulthood, I celebrate my Unique name. I cried with pride and joy when my Brother-in-law, Isidoa called me to announce the birth of my Niece to New Older Brother Izzy and myself. He wanted to be sure my Nieces’ middle name would be spelled Correctly. Isidoa Branch III and Yvette René Branch carry their names proudly. They will repeatedly be told the stories relating to their names and stories of their namesakes and, the Circle Will Be Unbroken. “What’s in a name?” Don’t get me started.

    • Ah the memories!! Thanks so much for reading and sharing such wonderful memories!! You may need to start guest-posting on the blog! Much love Sister! In the same way Daddy had issue with folks calling you by their own nickname, we have taught Izzy that that is just his nickname. He was taught from the time that he was able to articulate his name, that when someone asked what his name was, he was ALWAYS to reply, “My name is Isidoa Branch, III!”

      • Much Love back atcha’! One more point. Around the crazy days of Junior High, I found that the spelling of my French origin René, is the Male spelling Renee is the Female spelling. Casandra means prophetess, seer or, witch. Now, What Junior high school aged child wouldn’t run with that and, Work It!

  3. I used to struggle with my name, Torrey, growing up. I’m not sure why, I guess I thought it was so plain. I’d find the name plates but it’d always be spelled, Tori, so I’d always pass on it. Now, I enjoy the ambiguity of my name. You never know what you’ll get from just seeing the name Torrey on a piece of paper. I had an interview a few weeks ago and the interviewer said to me, we were betting on if you were male or female. I find it funny sometimes.
    But every so often I get called Torre’. That’s even more funny. I guess it’s all about perception. I could never see how someone could mispronounce my name, lol!

    • It’s interesting how we learn to embrace these things as we get older. It helps me to be able to encourage my children to know that the things that seem to be so traumatic now become blessings later on!

      Thanks for your comment Torrey!

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