the story of my name

Oh, you spell it with a ‘c’…?

And an ‘i’…?

Well isn’t that different.

At which point I usually say yes, I guess so. My dad’s idea. He read it in a book. It was his turn to name the baby. My mum named my sister. Mary.

I was supposed to have a middle name. Lynn. No idea why. Another book probably. He liked the idea of how the two went together Carin Lynn, almost Carolyn but without the commitment.

But he forgot to mention the middle name at my christening or when they did the paperwork. Something.

I’m glad actually. I like having only one name.

Until I was ten or eleven or twelve, I thought that name was Karen. My parents were immigrants and when they enrolled me in school, the school wrote my name as Karen. My parents didn’t want to upset the apple cart with their weird immigrant spelling. They wanted to fit in. And so they let it stand. Never mentioned a thing to anyone, including me.

Until I was ten or eleven or twelve when, for whatever reason, they said Oh, by the way, you know your name is actually spelled with an ‘i’.

It is?? Well I’ll be darned.

So I started spelling it Karin. I still have a few notebooks and report cards that shows this progression.

Then in grade eight or nine I needed my birth certificate for some reason and noticed the Carin spelling.

What’s that about?  I’m not sure who I asked. My mother probably.

If she was stirring something at the time she didn’t stop. What do mean?? That’s your name, what do you think it is?  Stir, stir…

I suggested it was a little weird, didn’t she think???, that I was just now finding out how it was spelled. She, apparently, did not think it was weird.

That may have been when she told me the story of my name.

Or maybe it was my dad who told it.

Either way, it’s good to know how to spell my name. I’m glad I only have the one. And I’m glad it was my dad’s turn to pick.

My mum said her choice would have been Brunhilda.


10 thoughts on “the story of my name

  1. Brunhilda is a fine name ;) I understand the name confusion thing. Until I was at grade one attendance I thought my name was Buttons. See what I mean? I like Karin wih an i. Grace/Buttons

  2. Love it. I actually love all your stories, Carin (or is it Karen?). I simply adore your writing style – to me it’s so visual that I feel like I’m actually there. Absolutely wonderful!

  3. Love this story!
    I named my daughter after Emily of New Moon’s best friend, Ilse – whom I’ve since learned is disliked by some reviewers, but for some reason I no longer remember, I loved her as a child. Maybe I just identified with her because I wanted to be Emily of New Moon’s best friend myself. More recently I’ve also discovered that German speakers, the originators of the name, consider it very old fashioned, sort of as if we’d named a child Gladys or Edith or something. I also spelled it wrong on the birth registration papers (Ilsa), being young and distracted at the time and surprised by twins both needing names at once. Then I forgot I’d mispelled it until she got her first passport and, like you, discovered her name wasn’t quite what she’d thought. Before that, she travelled on my passport as Ilse in those halcyon pre-911 days when not only was her passport name different from her birth certificate name (by one letter) but her twin brother’s sex was identified as “F” and nobody ever noticed.

    1. Ilse is a beautiful name. With or without the story. But a good name story is priceless. Amazing to think how travel was that ‘free and easy’ once upon a time.

  4. Good story. Am wondering now if there’s an Alpie attitude toward naming. There was a mixup with mine. My brother got a C instead of K to show my parents were Canadians now.

    1. Hmm, I wonder. My parents both Canadianized their names. Liesel became Liz. My dad’s thing more than my mum’s. And Liz never suited her. But, yes, there was a big need to be Canadian. Am thinking maybe that’s what appealed to my dad about the Carin spelling. I think he said he was reading a Russian author when he saw it. ‘Anna Carinina’ by Leo Tallstory??

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