What’s in a name? A lot. Son Matthew, grandson Bryce and I are often kicking around our favorites. We have agreed that names seem to influence us in later life.
I like, for instance, how our Chief of Medical Staff at Children’s Hospital was named Doctor Doctor and our Chief of Anesthesiology was Dr. Ether. Matthew once had a consulting neurologist at the University of Washington Hospital whose name was Doctor Sumi. I shiver to think what his malpractice insurance must cost. Daughter Lisa once had a landlord from hell whose name was Dudley Bumpass.
If our last name was Power, I’m sure Matthew would have been named William. And that’s convenient, because will power happens to be the subject of today’s blog.
Daughter Lisa will be celebrating her 55th birthday on Monday. In honor of the occasion, I guess it’s time to reveal to you that before she was born, Lisa was a boy, and his name was Luke.
When we were first married, for some reason my husband Gene and I decided that if we had any children, they would be named Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. I recklessly agreed to this because I didn’t want to have children and it didn’t seem possible that four such catastrophes could ever happen.
Nobody really WANTS children. Well, hardly anybody. But what happens is that after they get here, babies have a way of worming their way into your affections. It’s one of those unexplainable mysteries of life.
So it was that our pride and joy, Mark came into the world. On his heels, came the astonishing prodigy we named Matthew. And then, whoopsie, I got pregnant again.
Whoops, indeed. I was faced with a two-fold dilemma. First of all, I kept thinking about that name Luke. I have come to love it now, but at the time, it seemed to me to be a hill-billy name, like Abner or Rufus or Cletus or whatever you’d name somebody who spits tobacco and drinks moonshine.
The second issue was that if we had a boy like we agreed and promised St. Luke, we were going to have to add a fourth boy to the mix, too. You can’t have three children named Mark, Matthew and Luke and then quit. Those dudes come in a set. We’d never be able to introduce our children, Mark, Matthew and Luke, without somebody looking around asking “And where is little Johnny?”
I positively didn’t want a fourth child, but to tell the truth, I didn’t have the heart to insult and disappoint St. Luke by naming the third one Jeremy or something. The only solution I could think of was to have a baby girl. Nobody would expect us to name her Luke, and I’d be off the hook. It would be no fault of mine.
This is where the will power came in. I WILLED the baby to be a girl. I was keenly aware that the baby I was carrying was a boy. Mothers know things like that. I commenced a prayer campaign the likes of which Heaven had never been previously subjected to. I practically overdosed on rosaries and novenas.
I also had the good sense to demand the baby’s cooperation. Several times a day, I would whisper encouragement to the little unborn creature. “Listen kid, I know you think you’re a boy but you’re confused. You’re a girl. Just because you’re bald doesn’t mean you’re not a girl. You’re a girl. That’s spelled G – I – R – L. And listen, kiddo, on delivery day, if you come out with a wee-wee, you’re going straight back in for a refund. I mean it.”
I may have made a threat or two. I may have mentioned other considerations like the circumcision that was awaiting him, but whatever it was, it WORKED. Thanks to the power of will and prayer, Lisa underwent her sex change.
It was Tuesday, September 20, 1955. She was born on a dark and stormy night at the University of Iowa Hospital – during what must have been the worst ice storm in the history of Iowa City. She weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and she was all girl. She was perfect. We named her Lisa because it started with an “L” and it had four letters. It was my humble effort to appease St. Luke because it was the closest I could think of for a girl’s version of his name. He must have granted his forgiveness because as Lisa’s patron saint, he has been gently taking care of her ever since.
In thanksgiving , I am making a solemn vow. The next time I get pregnant, if it’s a boy, I’m going to name him Luke. That’s a promise. It’s the least I can do.
And, by the way. happy 55th birthday, Lisa, and many happy returns of the day. You’re going to love AARP.