What’s In A Name?
I may never know who named me or if I have a namesake, but JoAnne with a capital A, all one word, and an e at the end of my name can’t be all that common of a spelling. Because… quite often, no one gets it right, even on official documents. I guess computers have a hard time deciphering a capital letter just stuck in the middle of my given name.
I can appreciate the part in the book, Anne of Green Gables where Anne says to Marilla, “If you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an e. A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished.”
I like the way that spunky girl thinks, “JoAnne with an e sounds so much better don’t you think?”
Thank you for your thoughts on my dilemma at the airport. Someone wondered if it’s because I don’t have a middle name that raises a red flag. He even went on to suggest that terrorists use fictitious names with no middle name. I didn’t ask him how he had first-hand knowledge of this information, but it clearly made sense.
After tossing around ideas with my oldest daughter, Tracy, she put her whole heart into coming up with the perfect middle name for my no-name birth certificate. “Mom, Chelsea’s middle name is Jo and mine is Anne after you and then Kacey’s middle name is, “Alyse” which kind of broke the pattern. But, what if you were to use your birth mother’s middle name and your favorite aunt’s name as yours?”
Like a teenager’s first crush, I smiled picturing in my mind, how the names would sound so perfect together. I miss my late aunt, who wasn’t even technically related to me. She was my birth mother’s sister-in-law, but it didn’t even matter to her that I was born from an affair.
With fondness, I still remember when I had been searching for my birth mother for some time when a curious-looking envelope arrived in the mail for me. Standing in my driveway, I studied the handwriting. The return address was from a person who lived only hours away from my home, but it wasn’t anyone I knew. Carefully, I opened what appeared to be a greeting card, and a black and white photo dropped to the ground. For the longest time I looked down, staring in amazement at the well-worn picture.
Through my tears, the old photograph was like seeing a reflection of myself looking back at me in a crystal-clear pond. Her features, so like my own; the family resemblance left me awestruck. There was no mistaking who this beautiful woman might be. For the first time in my life, my birth mother, who passed away when I was little girl, had become this real person, if only in a precious snapshot. The “short but sweet” sentiments were from a kind stranger—my Aunt Mae.
On one of her first visits, my Aunt handed me a beautiful blanket that she had crocheted in two shades of turquoise-blue accented by a rose-pink color with a white trim. “I made each of your siblings’ blankets when they were born and I wanted you to have this one,” she assured me.
Tickled that a piece of her handiwork was mine to keep forever, I unfolded the sweet, flowing-patterned blanket that was almost the size of me.
My Aunt was truly making a statement that we can find the good even through our heartaches. She gave me what I believe matters the most in this world—a sense of belonging.
As you can tell from reading my posts, my blessings in life sometimes come in unusual ways, but I am grateful to God for those special gifts with the deepest significance. I will let you know what happens next time when I come face to face and conquer my fear of the dreaded self-check-in kiosk at the airport with my new middle name “Mae.”
JoAnne Mae Frank-Bennett