I don’t have unusual names on my family tree. Nothing I could use in a search box to help distinguish from other names. I have George, Philip, Mary, Marie, Maria, Robert, Richard, Sharon, Angela, Angie, Angeline, Dorothy, Henry. I’m the only Gayle on the whole tree. Of course, it’s not spelled like everyone else. I usually get Gail or Gale written on my coffee cup order. No matter, it doesn’t bother me like it did when I was younger. Back then, I didn’t even like my name. I would fantasize a different name like…Amanda. Then I’d have a nickname like Mandy.
Looking through my RootsMagic database, I kept coming back to the name, George. It’s my father, brother and maternal great-grandfather’s name. No difference in spelling. Dad would sometimes shorten it as Geo. That’s the well-known abbreviation of George. I always liked the name for a boy or man.
I also like the name Jennie. It sounds old, but not ancient old. It was my maternal grandmother’s given name. Growing up we always called her grandma Jean. I didn’t know her real name until someone referred to her as Jennie. When she passed away, we all found out her middle name, Sylvia. My mother and aunt both claimed them never of it. Grandma is the only Jennie on my tree.
In 1978, my husband, David and I named our first born child, Jennifer. Her name is unique. She’s not named after anyone in particular. No other Jennifer on either side of her family tree. We had a hard time picking a girl’s name. At the time, we lived in a mobile home. I would shout different names down the long hallway to see how they sounded and if we liked them.
When Jennifer was in kindergarten, my husband David and I went to our first parent-teacher conference. While waiting for the teacher to get Jennifer’s file, we strolled around the room admiring all the student crayon drawings that were displayed along the top of the chalkboard. We were shown which one was Jennifer’s. When I saw she wrote her name as “Jennie,” I stopped and stood there with my mouth open, gaping . Seeing my grandma’s name written by my little girl left me dumb-struck, unable to speak. I guess I expected she would spelling it J-e-n-n-y. I couldn’t get over she had chosen to spell it J-e-n-n-i-e without me telling her about her great-grandma. I felt like my grandma had reached down and squeezed my shoulder, giving her approval. I think I smiled all the way through the parent-teacher conference, and give Jennifer a special hug when we got home.