My last name was given to me upon birth into this world. It was passed to me from my dad on that eventful day. As I lay sleeping in my mother’s arms my dad signed all the necessary paperwork welcoming me to his last name and my family. Growing up as little girls, we planned and dreamed of the man we would marry and the wives we would become and as a bride surrender our last name for the honor of accepting a new one.
On July 27, 2002, I accepted my last name. It was the greatest gift I have ever received. I am very proud of it and have listened to hours and hours of stories from the family members who also bestow the gifted name. I know where the blood line comes from and how the name transformed over the years to the current spelling. I know the people that have signed it on documents, checks, and love letters. I am chosen to carry it behind my first name.
In our daily grind, I don’t believe we even give a second thought to our name. We don’t think of the importance or gift bestowed upon us from our parents or spouse as to feel us so worthy to share something so very personal as a name.
Growing up in our neck of the woods folks around town referred to us as the “Palmer” kids. Most of the little old ladies in church called me the “oldest Palmer” girl. Never once did I realize the importance of belonging to a family or having a last name.
My last name means more than a form of identity… it means family. It signifies everyone with this name is my people… my gang… my partners… my family. It means I will have people that back me up, pick me up, and help me up. It means I have other people to count on and who count on me. It means I belong somewhere in the world that others don’t. It means I am exclusive and important. I have role in this life and I have assumed full responsibility by accepting my last name.
My father-in-law teased me upon entering into the correctional field of work that my last name stood for something, and to leave it the same as I found it. I know he meant that he, his father, my husband, my brother –in-laws, my mother-in-law had all built a solid reputation in this field. I knew he meant he was confident in me and that I would be successful and add to the fortitude of OUR last name. I knew the value of our last name to him and his three sons and his father before him. I was proud to have it and very excited to honor him by doing my paramount best.
I watched my brother in September of 1996 accept his bride into our family by placing a ring on her finger a kiss on her lips and giving her our father’s last name. I saw the pride in my brother’s face as his shook his father-in-law’s hand and thanked him for such a beautiful woman to marry. I have watched them make a family, a home, a love that will surpass the ages and pass on their name to two of the most fun filled boys I have ever met. Two young men who will grow up and bring honor and dignity to the last name they carry. I know one day I will sit in a church like I did that day and watch my nephews pass their name onto their chosen brides. I will get to see them give these special young women a ring, a kiss and a last name they have cherished and valued. I hope the future generations understand the hard work, the pride, and the love that is contained… all in a last name.
About The Author: Barbie Driskell (Aunt B) was raised in the shade of pine trees of East Texas. “I am very proud of my roots, just like a pine tree, may not be deep but they sure take over when left to their own devices. I smile frequently, laugh genuinely and live simply.”