Picking out names for the children we don’t have


Annie Mae when we adopted her six years ago

As I was walking at the beach with my dog the other day and talking to her, as I often do, I called her by her full name, Annie Mae Lick. Suddenly I realized that could have been the name of my human daughter. Annie Lick. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It would honor my Portuguese grandmother and great-grandmother, both named Anna Souza. Lots of people called my grandmother “Annie.”

To be honest, I named my dog after a TV character. Later, I remembered that that was Grandma’s name.
Anyway, when I pictured my own daughter with that name, I wanted her so bad. She would be grown up now, and I would love her with all my heart. Maybe, like my beautiful niece, she’d look just like my mom, and we could talk and share our lives.
Names. One of the profound things about having a child is naming the baby, giving him or her the identity they’ll carry all their lives. In many religions, the name is part of the baptism or christening ceremony. It matters. Sure, they might shorten or change their names later—my birth certificate says Susan Gail Fagalde—but to you they will always be that person you named. That name will contain their history, their heritage and the love with which it was given.
I named my dolls when I was a kid. I named my first car (Bertha Bug). I named my pets. These days, lots of people give human names to their cats, dogs, monkeys and gerbils. Instead of Spot, Blackie or Rover, they’re Molly, Annie, Harry or George. Why do we do that? Do we see our pets as more human than animal? Do we want to pretend they’re our children? Or do we just have no other use for the names?
As a writer of fiction, I get to make up names for my characters. It’s fun and a little daunting. The name needs to fit the character, be easy to pronounce and distinguish that character from all of the others. What if Scarlett O’Hara had been Judy Smith? Or if Ashley Wilkes had been Jake McFee? Not the same. I also have to be careful about using real people’s names. I once had to change the name of my bad guy because there was a real person with that name who might want to sue me. In my novel Azorean Dreams, my main character’s name is Chelsea Faust. To my amazement, several real Chelsea Fausts have written to me. Luckily, they were flattered.
My writing gives me a place to name people, but I will never get to hug those people, never get to cook for them or help them with their homework. They’ll never come looking for me, calling, “Mom!” They’re just words on a page.
Annie Lick. What a great name.
How about you? Do you have names you wish you could give to your children? Or your dogs?
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My birthday wish and a poem

Dear friends,
Today is my birthday. I wish I had a big family to spend it with, but I don’t. Instead, I have a wonderful friend who will join me for a walk along the beach then take me to lunch. Later I will lead the choir and play the piano at church. It looks like a sunny day here on the Oregon Coast, so I am blessed.

You know what would make me really happy? If lots of people would buy my books, not only Childless by Marriage, but also Shoes Full of Sand, Stories Grandma Never Told, Azorean Dreams, and Freelancing for Newspapers. These are my offspring.You can get them all at Amazon.com.

Finally, I’m going to share a poem with you. I have been working on various forms of poetry. This one is called a Triolet. It’s eight lines in which you repeat the first line in the fourth and seventh line and the second line in the last line. The first, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh lines rhyme and the second sixth and eighth lines rhyme. It’s like doing a puzzle with no clues. So here’s one attempt:

Dog Mom
The dog is running in her sleep,
whimpering as she dreams here in my lap,
climbing a mountain rough and steep.
The dog is running in her sleep.
Chased by lions? Herding sheep?
I stroke her soft fur as she naps.
The dog is running in her sleep,
whimpering as she dreams here in my lap.

You are a great gift to me, not only on my birthday, but every day.  Have a wonderful weekend. Your questions and comments are always welcome.

 

Childless during Halloween and Hurricanes

Dear friends,

I was going to write about Halloween today and how seeing all those little kids in their costumes makes it harder to be childless. Well, it does, and without kids, Halloween isn’t much fun, but I’m having a hard time concentrating in the midst of the disasters happening in the eastern United States in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The extent of the damage is unbelievable, and my prayers go out to those suffering from the floods and wind damage.
We have our own storm happening right now on the Oregon Coast with plenty of rain and wind, but it’s nothing compared to what has happened in places like New Jersey and New York. My yard is soggy and my roof is leaking in the laundry room, but Annie and I are safe, my house is not flooded, the walls and windows are intact, and my car is not floating away. If the power goes out, I’m ready with my flashlights and candles.
Now how does this fit with being childless by marriage? I guess we simply have fewer people to worry about keeping safe or keeping entertained in a protracted power failure. Without children, we can offer our time, energy and money to help others whose lives are more complicated. Yes, we are sad that we don’t have children, but instead of focusing on our sadness, let’s reach out to others as much as we can.
What do you think? How do you feel about being childless when a disaster strikes?
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Oh, this feels so tacky in view of current events, but I have to tell you that tomorrow is the last day the Kindle e-book version of Childless by Marriage will be available for free. Click here. After Halloween, it goes back to $2.99, which still is pretty darned inexpensive. My novel Azorean Dreams is also a free e-book through Halloween. It’s something to read by candlelight or between trips to the door to give candy to trick-or-treaters.