Roxanne Teresa Sicurello. That’s the name I was given at birth. My mother, knowing that Italians have a habit of naming their children after themselves and fairly certain that she could never look into a cradle at her infant son, if ever she had one, and call him “Rocco,” told my father that I was named for him. Thus, she satisfied both Dad’s need for a child named after him and her need to not have a son named Rocco. Just to sweeten the deal, I was given the middle name Teresa for my paternal grandmother, Teresa Massessi, lovingly referred to as Tessie Massessi, and yes, it rhymes with messy and yes, it suits me well.
I have always thought, even before I thought much, that names are important. They can define who we are to some degree, which makes me wonder at celebrities that name their children things like Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Diva Thin Muffin. What if Diva Thin Muffin grew up to be a Fat Muffin? What then? But, I digress.
If you think about it, people often know our names before they know us and sometimes have a “picture” in their minds of what that name looks like. Cliff and I were very intentional when we named our children. We both agreed that we would carry on a family name as a middle name. He chose the first names, I chose the middle; but we agreed that we had to agree on both. With all of that “agreeing” you would think we’d have a hard time, but we didn’t. We’ve always been pretty good at agreeing. And so, first out of the chute, a boy, Eric James. Eric means “powerful ruler.” James is the middle name of both Cliff and my Dad. Next up, a girl, Rachel Pearl. Rachel means “little lamb.” Pearl was Cliff’s maternal grandmother’s name. Side note, our daughter Rachel has always refused to eat lamb. It’s personal. Our grand finale was another girl, Autumn Moon. We didn’t actually know the meaning of Autumn, we just both loved the name and it’s my favorite time of year. Moon is my mother’s maiden name. I admit it’s a little mother-earthy sounding, but we both agreed and so she is our Autumn Moon. Three fairly easy names, not too long, not too short and easy to put together when you’re calling for one child, but name every other child first. Like roll call or some kind of family list.
My Grandma Moon always had a roll call. She lived with us and often when she wanted one of us kids for something she’d go through the entire list of her children, three girls; and grandchildren. “Nancy, Lois, Charlotte, Bret, Cheri, Sandy, Bonnie, Roxanne, Jeannine, Lisa, Paul, Donna” and then back to whoever it was that she really wanted. We would all listen when Grandma started her list just in case she wanted us. I have friends who have almost 18 grandchildren. Can you even imagine being a part of that list? My Mom carried on this roll call, not with her grandchildren, but with the four of us. I have, so far, avoided this family malady. As I said, we were very intentional. In fact, though I often admit that I’ve never thought much in my life, I did think about names.
After Eric was born and when we found out we were expecting another, Cliff had come to me with the name Erin if the baby was a girl. I did like the name Erin, but I started thinking. I thought about how close they would be in age, I thought about how close their names would be in spelling, I thought about Grandma’s roll call. Going from one child to two children, I thought of the very real possibility of what could happen to me. Eric and Erin…All I could imagine was me walking through the house sounding like a seal barking…Er, Er, Er…trying to figure out which “Er” I really wanted. I decided we did not “agree” and Cliff came up with Rachel, while watching “Little House on the Prairie.”
For most of my life, my name has been shortened in one way or another. I’ve been called, Rox, Rocky, and occasionally, though I am not a fan, Roxy. I have, for most of my life, also been misspelled. “One n or two? Is there an E at the end?” And then there was the infamous Starbucks spelling, “Rocksand.” That was fun. When my last name was Sicurello, I had to spell both names. I was relieved when I married Cliff and changed my name to Chin, thinking I’d never have to spell my last name again. But, people still ask and still get it wrong, and so I tell them, “Chin, like on the bottom of your face.”
Though I have always enjoyed being named after my Dad, the original “Rocky,” the connection between my name and my husband’s is not lost on me. I first noticed it when we got married and Cliff changed his email to “cliffrox.” Cliff…Rocks, get it? Both are defined as a “hard mass of stone.”
From my Dad, “Rocco,” to my husband, “Cliff,” I am grateful to have always had some semblance of a “Rock” in my life. Some stabilizing force established in the names that have surrounded me, including the one given to me. But, none so important as the Name Above All Names. The Solid Rock on which we, as a family, I am blessed and grateful to say, ALL stand. His name is Jesus! In the light of all eternity, His is the only name that matters…It is a very big deal!