Sunday, November 4, 2012
The Legacy of a Name
I often get questioned about my pen name, Galen Pearl. Galen was my dad’s middle name, and he was called by the shorter version, Gale. Galen comes from a Greek word meaning calm or tranquil. I like that. My mother’s middle name was not Pearl, but it was another gemstone. However, she was not fond of her middle name, so I chose another precious gem.
Before I became a parent, I fantasized about having a daughter and naming her Galen Pearl. However, three daughters later, the name, which wasn’t suitable for any of them for various reasons, remained unused. My youngest daughter, who came the closest to bearing this name, is grateful. When she would express her huge relief at not being named Galen Pearl, I would tease her by saying, “It’s not too late. We can go down to the courthouse and change it.” “Nooooo!” she would wail.
When I started this blog over two years ago, I was concerned about privacy, especially for my kids. I did not have much experience online (I’m still woefully behind in tech knowledge), so I decided to use a pen name. I thought and thought. And then like a flash, I remembered the name I had loved for so long. It was never meant to be my daughter’s name. It was meant to be mine. And so Galen Pearl was finally born.
As time went on and I unexpectedly gained some name recognition, I wondered if I had done the right thing. When I published some stories, I had to decide whether to stick with the pen name or switch to my real name, which I also love. By then, however, the pen name had taken root in my own psyche as well as in cyberspace, and so I stuck with it.
I’m glad I did. Today would have been my dad’s 100th birthday. I miss him. He died thirty years ago, before any of us ever heard of a blog, before I fantasized about a daughter named Galen Pearl. He never met any of my children, never saw the house I raised them in, never read anything I wrote. Using his name connects me to his memory, to him.
So, thanks, Dad. I hope I do your name proud.
There be of them, that have left a name behind them.... –Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 44:8-9