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Namesake

by Helen Chappell It’s a tremendous honor to have someone named for you. So when Kathy and Dale had their first baby and named her Helen Ann, I was delighted and f lattered. And, I’ll admit, a bit wary. It’s eighteen years later. Helen is graduating from high school and moving on to college out in Ann Arbor. She’s everything you could want in a namesake and an honorary great-niece. A natural blonde, a brilliant student, popular, adventurous and just a lot of fun, she’s everything I would have loved to have been when I was her age. She’s excited about cutting the ties and moving into the first phase of her adult life. And let’s face it, when you’re ready for college, you’re no one’s baby anymore. You’re mostly a grown up. Of course, you’re not as grown up as you think you are, or as grown-up as you’ll be at the end of four undergraduate years, but that’s a part of life. In celebration, perhaps in rebellion, perhaps as a marker of the new person she will become when they hand her that diploma this month, she’s changed her name from Helen to Ellie. In the extended family, I’m Auntie Helen and she’s Helen Ann, just

Helen of Troy to tell us apart when it’s time to sit down at the table for crabs. I think she’s done pretty well with the name Helen, and when people ask me if I’m offended she’s changed it, I have to laugh. Of course I’m not offended. She’s establishing a new, grown-up identity for herself, and of all the nicknames for Helen ~ Nell, Nelly, Elle, El and so on ~ Ellie seems like a decent choice. I think she’ll wear it well and I hope she parties through the olive groves of academe and freakytown of Ann Arbor and does it honor. The world needs more Ellies. And if she ends up as Elle, well, so much the better. At least she wasn’t named Destinee or Tiffani or Madyson or Witnee or something else 9

July 2013 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times July 2013

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