A Reflection on Names

A reflection on names . . .

Our names, whether we like them or not, represent the key element in how we define ourselves. In the Western culture, a little boy’s name, John Robert Jones, is given him at birth, remains with him throughout his life, and in death, John Robert Jones is inscribed on his gravestone. Not so with naming a little girl. Mary Ellen Smith carries her name until she marries, when she usually takes her husband’s name and becomes Mary Ellen Johnson. Almost half of marriages end in divorce, so her likelihood of changing names again is high. The musical chairs of name changing can be confusing. Mine certainly was.

Lois who? A personal journey of names, each with its own meaning . . .

My birth name, Lois Mary Prante, changed when I married Tom Ellis in 1949 and became Lois Mary Ellis, but was known as Lois Ellis. I was not fond of all those “L and S” sounds, inserted my birth name, and became Lois Prante Ellis. When I left the marriage, I left the name Ellis and, taking the family name of each of my parents, became Lois Bristow Prante, a name I kept for years. Finally, it was time to drop my birth name, leaving Lois Bristow. Years later, when earning my doctorate, I wanted to honor my maternal grandmother by adding her name West to my name so that her name would appear on my diploma, hence, the final change to Lois West Bristow. Changing my name again is not on my list of things to do.

Let's Start a Conversation. Leave a comment