What’s in a name?

Captain Jack here…

What’s in a name or why do we choose one over another?  Sometimes it is a very simple process, as with our firstborn. We chose the name Marietta for our daughter after my grandmother Marietta Guilbert. Everybody in the family and in the community loved her dearly but in one hundred years, nobody in the family or the community was named after her.  It turns out she did not like her name and told people so.  She tried to dissuade us from naming our daughter after her for that reason, to which I responded that if she did not like the name, that was her problem.

As I explained to her, that name signifies to me a person I am deeply fond of, one who I admire and love very much, one who has had a wonderful influence in my life and who has made such a difference in the world, and Nicole and I happen to like it very much. Grandma loved Nicole from the moment she met her so for us it was an easy choice and we agreed almost instantly from the beginning of the pregnancy.  It didn’t hurt that one of the meanings of the name Marietta turned out to be Lady of the Sea.

The two Mariettas

But the decision was not so easy as the days wound down to the arrival of our son. Oh, we both agreed on Benjamin, we both like the name and above that it was my favorite uncle’s name.  Benjamin Douglas Guilbert was also my godfather and my Grandma Marietta’s younger brother whom she loved dearly and of whom she told us countless stories relating to all his mischievous antics. Not only did Uncle Ben give me my first horse, he countermanded my Grandma’s instructions and ordered the hired hand to cut me lose and let me ride alone instead of being led around the yard.   I will never forget the freedom of riding my own horse all over the ranch.  I loved him because he trusted me. His life was the stuff of legend.

Uncle Ben

Although he was the youngest of four, Uncle Ben was named after his father Douglas Benjamin, with the names inverted of course. Now Douglas, oh the places he’s been! He came to live and settle in Honduras all the way from San Jose, California.  His father was a mining engineer who probably went out west with the Gold Rush, but Douglas B. Guilbert did not exactly follow in his shoes.  Instead he became a dentist, but the adventurer in him probably came through from his father.

Douglas Benjamin ended up in Honduras after talking a friend into going with him on his great adventure.  They saddled up and tied a mule train together and rode south through Mexico and Guatemala on their way to the Panama Canal, where they planned to board a ship and head out across the Pacific Ocean to the Orient.  On the way, he bartered with prospectors for gold and then while in town he hung up his shingle and fixed teeth for the money he needed to go on.  When he fell in love with Isolina Lozano, married her and settled in Honduras, his adventure was not over…but his trip to Panama was. I am sure this is where I get my sense of adventure.  It comes in the blood.

Although everybody knows me as Jack, it is not my given name.  My name was chosen so that I could be “legally” called Jack, after my grandfather Jack, husband to my grandmother Marietta, but that was not his given name either – it was his father who liked to call him Jack.

Grandpa Jack and me

It was Nicole who wanted to name our son after me.  I resisted because I felt it might be construed as an egotistical thing.  We considered many different names, but Nicole would not budge.  She would insist she wanted our son to be named Jack, because of the same reasons I had wanted to name Marietta after Grandma.

Whatever name we chose had to work in Spanish and in English.  This only made the choices harder.  Then the names had to go well together, in both languages of course.  After going through what seemed like endless suggestions, I finally realized that this very determined woman I married was not going to choose another name but Jack.  What’s more, I had no leg to stand on when she expressed the same sentiment I had about my grandmother’s name.  Before Grandma died she had come to love a wonderful little person who was named Marietta and I am sure that changed her feelings about the name.  I know she secretly felt deeply honored that we had chosen her name as I am sure she would be today to know that our son is named after the man she adored and married and after her little brother who was her favorite person in the world.

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About Oh, the Places We've Been!

In 2008 I married Jack, the love of my life and the only man that could ever keep up with me. Instead of the nice little French Colonial with a white picket fence, we opted to make our home on the 46-foot catamaran "Let it Be". Since living on a sailboat we've had two kids and sailed thousands of miles along the coast of Central America, the United States, the Bahamas and currently Baja California. Our family of four is always ready for the next adventure and we’re never quite sure where it will take us next. Oh, the places we still have yet to go!
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3 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. claire clark says:

    I am enjoying your blog and look forward to following your wonderful family growing up and seeing the world. At 84 I will not be doing any traveling, but will certainly enjoy reading about yours.

  2. Oh, the Places We've Been! says:

    Glad to hear you are liking the blog, we will enjoy having you along for the journey!

  3. Hank Ebert says:

    What a beautiful photo of my great-aunt, Tia Marietta, and your beautiful baby girl! My nephew, Steve Bruss, and his wife, Cassie, have named their son, Jack, and their brand new baby girl, Marietta, or Marti, for short, in honor of Jack and Marietta Linton. I wish your family all the happiness in the world in 2013 and beyond. – Hank Ebert

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