Charles Hanley

It's a big responsibility, naming a child.  And not an easy task, trying to match a name to a baby and a bouquet of dreams.
We’ve done it before, pored over options, chosen and bestowed the best, acutely aware of the permanence of our decision.  And we've watched each of our children rise inside to somehow make their name feel true.
We knew this baby would carry around this string of letters for the rest of his life, knew that we would whisper it when we tell him goodnight and shout it from the sidelines at little league games.
Mom’s much older sister Metta, an aunt I never had the chance to know, had a son named Charles, whom I grew up knowing as Uncle Chip (although we’re actually cousins).  Chip was the third Stevers to be named Charles -- his grandfather was Charles Blaine, his father was Charles Lewis and he is Charles Herbert.
Chip and his wife Diana organized our family reunion trip to Wales, and have been here for backyard parties. They're at every Herbert wedding and have entertained us all at their home.  They even babysat the boys in NYC last fall so we could see Hamilton.  Chip is someone we admire and love.  It is our hope that this baby will grow up afforded plenty of opportunities to spend time with him, to hear him sing and listen to his stories, to build Legos and play knights and dragons, and to someday run things through the prism of his counsel.

We don't call any of the boys by their first names, but at least they've all got something solid to fall back on, should they choose.  Thomas, James and now Charles.

Hanley Cecil Betz, Andy’s great grandpa Harry’s brother, was a March baby, born in 1906.  Hanley was a school superintendent in southern Ohio, known to have been frugal and kind of a deal maker -- in fact, most of the Hanley stories that live on are about him trying to pay back debts with coupons or following obituaries of wealthy gentlemen in order to take fancy cars off the hands of fresh widows.  He was notorious for never throwing anything away.
The first time I met Hanley, confined to a wheelchair but still very much full of life, his finger nails were painted bright red.  I'm pretty sure he enjoyed the company of the cute young cosmetology students who were sent to the nursing home to practice their skills.

So that's how we arrived at Charles Hanley, nick-named Hank.

And that K at the end, to get from Hanley to Hank?
That’s all for Aunt Kate.

1 comment:

rht said...

I love every word of this naming story, and look forward to stories about Charles Hanley Betz! Hank, with a K, will surely be someone special (too!)