What's in a name?
Each Christmas, I give my students a laminated card that has their name on it, along with the meaning of their name. Sometimes I have to do pretty serious and creative research to find a meaning for some of these names. And I have to be careful, of course, with the names that mean 'God has blessed' or some other religious aspect. But the kids love it. And every year when I make out the cards, I think of Brandy. Brandy was a student in my class my first year of teaching. She was a sweet girl, but had some serious emotional problems. Her father was a merchant mariner, so he was gone much of the time. Brandy's mother liked to party, so she would lock Brandy in a closet while she went out. The little girl developed a fear of storms (who wouldn't, being locked in a small, dark area with scary noises booming around you). I'm sure she suffered other abuse and neglect as well. By the time Brandy was in my class, mom was out of the picture, and dad had given up his merchant mariner job so he could be home and take care of his daughter. Well, I made out the cards with the kids' names and passed them out. Brandy took hers and read it...disbelief evident in her face. You see, I couldn't put 'alcoholic beverage' on her card. So I put 'Fiery Torch' as the meaning, as 'brand' is also an archaic term for a torch. Then she asked me if her name really meant that, instead of a drink. (I had the impression that her mother stressed the alcoholic drink.) I reassured Brandy that her name could also mean 'fire'. Her face lit up. And she kept that card in her desk, near the front edge, the rest of the year. The rest of her desk may have been a mess, but that card stayed neat. She would be a young woman now, in her mid-20s. I think of her from time-to-time, hoping that she's had a good life. Maybe she has her own children now, and picked out their names carefully and lovingly. She deserves a good life. And as Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." I wish you well, Brandy-Rose.