Then when we were living in California while my husband was going to graduate school, we were excited to find out we would be having another little boy. Samuel? Ethan? Nothing seemed right, until Geo thought it would be nice to narrow things down by either using family names or names from good literature. He was getting his PhD in rhetoric and literature after all, and since he had done his Honors thesis at BYU on Paradise Lost, we knew we had to name this new little guy Adam. It fit then, and it fits now, partly because he is a bit of an innocent and we like to say he hasn't really left the garden yet.
Ok, back in Utah again after getting hired by BYU and along comes pregnancy number three. Lots of good names in my family to choose from. My father's name is Robert. I have brothers named Robert, David, Anthony. All good and hearty names. Good names on my husband's side too. My husband's name is Gideon, but it is a bit of an overpowering name and best reserved for grandsons rather than sons (which I have loosely committed my children to use). Again, a standstill, until one night my husband says he would like to name this boy, revealing it to me later in the pregnancy. I was kind of game for a little fun, so I agreed, until it was decided that the name would come from a Shakespearean play, my husband being a Shakespeare professor. Rosencrantz? Malvolio? But I was happily surprised when Geo told me the name he had chosen was Lear, not from the happiest play Shakespeare wrote, but from the well-crafted one that many consider to be his best work. Plus, my new little one might appreciate being named after a king. We had no idea how important his name would be to him until we started noticing in about third grade the way he signed all of his homework "King Lear". And going to Dad's class and reciting the plot to a roomful of college kids at the start of a semester was pretty cool too. It has fit him through and through.
Then came the last one. Here we go again. A boy's name. My husband and I each had a grandfather we never knew, both of whom died before we were born. My oldest son got the name of my never-known, and now we decided to complete the trend by naming this last son after the other one. This grandfather went by FG, for Fielding Garr (Burton). Garr being an ancestor's surname. We loved Fielding, but decided to use a different middle name, keeping the FG in tact. And thus Fielding Gray Burton rounded out the family. We call him Gray mostly, but Fielding gets used here and there too. When he was little he liked to decide when he wanted each name used, and just today he walked into the dining room and announced to me and Geo that he is going to start telling some of his friends about his first name. He likes it. He thinks when he is an adult he will use it more than Gray.
I have been thinking of this topic lately because we really celebrate Memorial Day well in my husband's family, which we live close to. We gather at the three cemeteries where their ancestors are all buried, and we clean off graves. We put peonies in vases and sit on the grass as my mother-in-law takes out flip charts with pictures and stories and explains what name goes with what picture. When my kids that have Burton ancestral names see their names on those head stones they are not creeped out, but proud of their heritage. And my sons that have names more related to my side of the family still know where their names come from.
A humble grocer who helped everyone, the first man, who was a sign of God's love, a great work of art that teaches the lesson of familial loyalty, and a grandfather who died while serving a mission for our church.
It helps to give them a sense of belonging and purpose. It matters.