What’s In A Name?

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

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  • blogomomma says:

    Beautiful! There is nothing more to say!

  • Elizabeth says:

    🙂 do u think I could be ElizaBeth? Hehe

  • Lynn Mosher says:

    Precious post, JoAnne Mae! I love these glimpses into your family. Awesome!

  • admin says:

    I love it…and the picture! And believe it or not, my baby sister’s middle name is Mae…after my Mom’s mom. 🙂

  • Don says:

    Congratulations! Your name flows off the tongue well. I am sure Aunt Mae would be proud to share her name. She left more than just a blanket with you,she left a name!

  • Dave says:

    as always very good love.

  • Val says:

    Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver or gold.” You have chosen a wonderful name and it matches a beautiful heart!!! Terrific as usual my very special friend!!!!

  • Love the ‘new name’ and the story behind it. My middle name is Anne with an ‘e’ and I totally agree on wanting people to know it is spelled with an ‘e’ LOL Thanks for sharing another great piece of your life with us.

  • Robert says:

    I like the look of the blog and the simple but well told stories of the person behind the name.

    I have often wondered where the parents find the right name for their children.

  • JoAnne says:

    You are so kind to me. Thank you for always showing you care!

  • JoAnne says:

    I wonder if we could find anyone in the universe with their name spelled that way. I like it :)!

  • JoAnne says:

    I love how that middle name sounds when you write it :). You have truly blessed my life with your friendship. Thank you for being a part of the journey.

  • JoAnne says:

    My Angel (Tammy) who flies in and fixes the “little things” with such kindness. It’s amazing that something good could come out of how you and I met, but I truly believe we are two women on the same mission of making sure each child’s voice matters. Thanks for caring!

  • JoAnne says:


    Thank you for being part of my ‘new name’ celebration. I can’t wait to make it all official on my birth certificate.

  • JoAnne says:

    My best friend,

    You certainly know my heart…a good name over great riches anytime. I can’t wait to see something with so much significance be on my official document…my birth certificate. I love you Val!

  • JoAnne says:

    Thanks David,

    Now, how do I rate…my husband is adding his love on here too? Thanks for standing beside me for the last 34 years!

  • JoAnne says:

    Thanks Don,
    Yes, something tells me that she would be flattered too. A handmade ‘baby’ blanket and sharing a part of her name, “What more could a girl ask for?” I love you my son!

  • JoAnne says:

    Bob, thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I appreciated your compliments.

  • Tara says:

    What a wonderful story and a beautiful name! My middle name is Lynne and I always make sure everyone knows it 🙂

  • Roz Larson says:

    My grandmother’s middle name was spelled Mae also! great choice. 🙂 I just love hearing about your Aunt Mae and how she gave you a little bit of peace with her gifts. How special and what fond memories to be able to have. That someone actually gave a care to pass on your mother’s picture (and yes, you DO look just like her!!) as well as a “family”, hand-made gift. Special.

  • Lechelle says:

    Mae is such a lovely name, and it fits so perfectly. Thank you for sharing the story behind it. And what a beautiful picture! I’m so glad you finally have that.

  • Liberty says:


    Your name will always be precious to us. Thanks for giving us another look into the life of a special person.

  • kali says:

    WooHoo. I love it. I changed it around a bit. Cuz you know I enjoy coffee

    M J B

    ok sorry , my bad 🙂

    Hugs to ya

  • JoAnne says:


    I appreciated your sense of humor wrapped with kindness.

  • JoAnne says:


    Your sweet little family is growing. I feel blessed to still get to be a part of Charlotte’s life. Thanks for always taking the time to show you care my friend!

  • JoAnne says:

    Thanks you for visiting my blog Lechelle and being a part of my little name with so much significance celebration. I will pray that you and your husband’s life will be blessed with a little bundle of joy one of these days soon. I admire the gift of kindness that you are so willingly to share with others. Please come back again :)!

  • JoAnne says:

    Hey Tara Lynne, thanks for stopping by and leaving such a wonderful, beautiful compliment. Keeping running with a smile!

  • JoAnne says:


    I imagine those who have known me for a long time like yourself, can really see the striking similarities. It’s fun to look at her picture and see my daughters in her as well. It’s amazing that the most simple gift as a photo can have more significance than all the money in this world. Thanks for always helping me find the positive to celebrate. Your friendship is a blessing in my life!

  • Kim Nelson says:

    Good for you, JoAnne! Finally some answers. Finally some peace. I smiled wide when I read this post and looked back up at your birth mom.

  • Julie L. says:

    Hi JoAnne Mae. I love the sound of it and the story behind it. But then I love all your stories. I wished that I was named after someone. ;(

  • Mimi says:

    I love this story about your aunt. And I like how you could take the good that she was offering you, recognizing you as much as her niece as any of the other children of your biological mom. You have made such a great family for yourself, and we humbly consider ourselves a part of it.

    Keep writing, Joanne. You are gifted.

    Mimi, Steve, Carver and Dayton

  • Julianne says:

    Omg… you totally LOOK like your mom. I saw your mom’s b&w photo thinking that could have been you! WOW. Thank you for sharing with us your journey!

  • JoAnne says:

    Thanks for caring Kim! Not a day goes by that I don’t look at her picture and wonder where I fit into her journey.

  • JoAnne says:

    Short and sweet and so easy to spell my friend, Julie. I can’t wait to have a party when I finally have a name on my birth certificate. And of course, you will definitely be a part of the celebration. I love you Julie!

  • JoAnne says:

    Thank you Mimi, you and your family has blessed my life in such special ways. My Aunt Mae…feels like the most real connection to my mother. Can you believe she took my birth mother to her doctor’s appointments because she didn’t drive and wasn’t even aware she was pregnant with me? I know there would be a lot of people saying, “No, way, how could that be.” But then I remember when I was pregnant with Tracy. At the hospital they asked me what I was there for. I delivered Tracy 20 minutes later. I just didn’t get very big with any of my daughters. A woman in a store once commented about the tee- shirt that I was wearing that had “Baby” with an arrow pointing down. I don’t suggest anyone make such an insensitive remark to a hormonal mother-to-be that is 8 months pregnant by stating, “You’d have to dig awfully far to find that baby.”

    Carver and Dayton’s JoAnne

  • JoAnne says:


    Do mothers and daughters really notice how much they look like each other? I can sure see the resemblance. Even what few pictures I have of her as a child look like me at certain ages. It’s a cool feeling to share this connection with her. My oldest biological sister was kind of jealous…she said, “Everyone used to say I looked like her.”

    And when my biological brother met me for the first time his mouth dropped. As if he was in the state of shock he just kept looking at me in awe saying, “Mom has come back from dead.” When I made contact with them I was around the same age our mother was when she passed away.

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  1. So sad, what a terrible experience. and I know it was only one of many for you. Love you friend!!!
  2. This fills me with sadness: “No child should have to continually try to make a parent love them.” What a tragedy that your mother was not able to accept love from you. My guess is that deep down, she didn’t feel lovable, and she had to cover that shameful fact up with a bunch of br…
  3. It’s insane that these findings were made but nothing was done about it. All these years later, you are still waiting for the wrongs to be righted.
  4. I love you❤
  5. I hope you are able to find more on the first chapters of your life. How twisty things became when people had to hide things…ugh. Sad.