In retrospect, it was the cusp of not your father’s name. Or mother’s, either. It happened in my own family, right on the heels of Kimberly. My Aunt Flo, faced with naming her daughter Ethel, after her mother, or Ethel, after her mother-in-law, named my cousin Barbara. When my next cousin was born two years later, she named him Kenneth. Barbie and Ken.
My mother was named Lenore Caroline, matriarchal family names. Her brother, my Uncle Hank was named Henry Melvin, from his grandfathers on both sides. His paternal grandfather, Charles Henry Rolf, actually had the same name as a sibling who died as an infant. Except, the sibling was Henry Charles. Thrifty people, those German immigrants.
My grandfather expected my mother to be a boy. No girls had been born in the family for generations. He was so surprised he dubbed her Nicodemus, and she was called Nikki by everyone except my grandmother. All my aunts, uncles, cousins called her Nikki or Aunt Nikki. My dad called her Nikki.
When I married the naming situation was serious. My husband was adamant our first child would be a boy, and would be named after him. Another Junior. When she surprised him, he named her Joanne (after me) and Elizabeth (after the girlfriend who dumped him after high school). I was not about to have a big Joanne and a little Joanne in the house, and had no problem with Elizabeth, except for its length, so I told everyone to call her Beth. It’s worked out well.
My second daughter also acquired a name she wasn’t given. Her father again intended her to be a boy and be named junior. Foiled again. I suggested a name to honor her Irish heritage, but quit that idea immediately on learning he would convert it to an ugly nickname. For a girl, he said, he wanted Michelle. The name du jour in 1967. Of Beetles renown. She was Michelle from September, 1967 until July, 1968, when my brother and sister-in-law had a baby, and named her Michelle.
“We can’t have two Michelle’s in the family,” Helyn informed me. Yours will need a nickname. I protested ours was named before hers was even conceived. “But we liked the name first,” she settled. I’d never liked Michelle; Shelly was fine with me. In truth, I don’t think my husband called her anything but Shelly. And, my brother’s Michelle has always been Michelle. A good name for each of them.
My granddaughters have traditional family names. Shelly used my dad’s sister’s names, Laura and Ruth, for two daughters, and Beth named her daughter Caroline Lenore to honor her grandmother, Nikki. Her son, France, may still be on the road to his name. Born William Francis, he got his first name from his father and his second name from the gourmet hot dog establishment in the lobby of the hospital. In honor of its being open on Christmas Eve, when he was finally born. We call him Francis, but I’m thinking he’ll grow up to be a mighty tall Frank.
Nikki, standing by her father
Walter Ernst Rolf, Lenore Caroline Rolf, Henry Melvin Rolf, Ethel Lenore Cox Rolf