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

44 comments:

  1. Such a lovely post! You have me tearing up! I love the story behind using your pen name and how it reminds you of your father. That is a special bond you have forever, even though he's gone for some time. He's not gone in your heart and that's where love lives on! When I named my son, I purposely chose Connor for the meaning 'high passion and longing.' That was my wish for him. If a person has longing then they care about something and that will feed them spiritually. I think you father would love your blog - it contains who you are - a daughter always!

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    1. Margaret, I wish I had known my dad better. There are many conversations I would enjoy having with him now! It's interesting, isn't it, to investigate the meaning of names. I didn't know that's what Galen meant until I looked it up for this post. Ironically, my youngest daughter's middle name also means peaceful, like Galen means calm. So I wasn't that far off in naming her! Thanks for your comment.

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  2. My last name was my mother's middle name and when I got a divorce after she passed I took it as my last name and legalized it. I'm so glad I did. It came to me in a voice as I awoke one morning while camping in Chaco Canyon of New Mexico.

    I'm so glad you shared how your own pen name came to be. It's really a nice way of honoring your father.

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    1. Teresa, Your name is so beautiful, I have wondered before if that was your given name or a chosen one. Good choice! Names are very powerful. It has been interesting for me to experience having two names these last couple of years. I like it. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Such a marvelous post, dear Galen, especially in light of All Saint's Sunday when we remember our loved one who have gone to be with the Lord.
    Rest assured, you have done your Dad's name proudly. And, I have no doubt that he is proud of his darling daughter!
    Blessing to you always, my friend!

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    1. Martha, I did something today I've never done before. During the part of the church service this morning when we were invited to speak out loud the names of loved ones who have died, I stood and said my dad's full name and said that today was his 100th birthday. It was an emotional experience for me. Thanks for your comment.

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  4. What a beautiful story! I love how you chose your pen name. So much love and history there. Thank you for sharing this.

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  5. I'm sure your Dad would be so proud of you as a writer, blogger,and a wonderful Mom, beside the daughter that you were to your parents Galen!

    I loved all that you shared about how you got your name, though just curious to ask as to what was your real name before Galen Pearl.

    Thanks for sharing more of you with all of us. :)

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    1. Harleena, It has been very interesting having a different name online. When I speak in person about the 10 Steps in retreats or other presentations, I use my real name. Online, I "feel" like Galen Pearl, but in person, the pen name seems odd. I have enjoyed exploring having these two names in my life these last couple of years. Thanks for your comment.

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  6. Galen I love your post, thank you for sharing this with all of us. I also feel you definitely do your Dad proud in my humble opinion!

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  7. So beautiful. Yes, your Dad is smiling at you right now and if you close your eyes and think of a particularly fond memory, you will find that in your mind, you are both sharing happy laughter.

    The name suits you very well and matches your lovely smile and twinkly eyes. Oh, I so enjoyed the interview over at Evita's.

    Hugs, Galen. Happy Birthday to Dad.

    Love, Vidya

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    1. Vidya, Thanks for the kind words about this post and the interview. I appreciate it!

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  8. Happy Birthday to your dad! I will always think of you as Galen, since that is how I know you! Lots of love, I am sure your daddy is smiling down. I wonder what would he most appreciate about you today?

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    1. Jodi, When I'm online, I think of me as Galen, too! I wonder what he would appreciate. Probably that I was a good teacher. My dad didn't have much formal education, but he loved learning. He would have been proud that I was a law professor. Thanks for commenting.

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  9. What a beautiful memory! It is so nice you can honor your fathers memory with your pen name. I love the name Pear. My mothers middle name was Pearl.

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    1. Bonnie, Pearl is a beautiful name. I like having it as the second part of my pen name. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. This is very interesting! I'm well aware of the power of names myself, since my mother was given one that has been problematic for her all her life, unfortunately.

    I used to write under a pen name myself for a while, but found I didn't enjoy being two people, as it was difficult to keep them straight. I eventually just returned to being the "real" me. But I know it works for others, so more power to you! :)

    P.S. It strikes me as odd that the word "Gale" or "Galen" means calm or tranquil, since I think of that as another word for a storm, as in "blowing up a gale." Funny.

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    1. Not only have you done your father's name proud but this post must have him smilin in heaven. Such a touching and personal post. I loved it, as with so many others. Glad you shared and I like the name Galen...it conjures up images of riches and strength.

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    2. Galen,

      Not only have you done your dad proud but I am sure he is touched by your thoughts and smilin' in heaven. Enjoyed this post as I do many of yours. BTW...I love the name Galen...conjures up images of riches, strength and a great writer!

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    3. Jennifer, I sympathize with your mom. I was called by my first name growing up, a name I never identified with. In high school, I started going by my middle name and have ever since.

      As for the pen name, when I'm writing, Galen Pearl feels like my "real" name, so it isn't really a problem for me. It is only confusing when I am appearing in person with my real name and having to explain that my book is written under a pen name. Thanks for commenting.

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    4. Kathy, Riches and strength! Interesting how a name creates certain associations for us. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. I'm sure you are doing your father proud Galen!
    Lori

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  12. What an honoring of a name and memories. Thank you for sharing.

    I really like my name Patricia - means woman of wealth and wisdom in the Greek translations...the Patricians were the ruling class. My mother named all her dolls Patricia, but had to get through 2 folks with family tradition names before she could use it on me...

    When I started to blog I debated and just decided to use Patricia most of the time....then added the Wisdom part by a kids suggestion. Now I get most of the books I review and the publishers just address the package to Patricias Wisdom...

    The day I was finally moved to the hospital for recovery - I had surgery right after birth and was not allowed to be born in the only Hospital in town ( c-sections not allowed at Catholic Hospitals) but that week 6 babies were born at that hospital and all 6 were named Patricia! In 6th grade were were all in the same classroom!

    Names are important: I heard a Hindu woman say that the baby always calls out it's own name...especially the last baby!
    Numerology also uses names in making suggestions. But I think it is most important what the parents believe the name means and how closely they hold that in their heart.

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    1. Patricia, What a wonderful comment about names, from the personal aspect to the theoretical one! Thank you!

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  13. Galen, what a lovely post. I loved reading about your pen name.
    Also, it is fun to learn a little bit more about your daughters. I did find while having our children; some of the names we thought of just didn't fit and then the name just came.
    I think it is lovely that this name connects you to your father. Of course, I believe he knows and is aware of your family. So I am sure he is happy with what you have done with your name. At least to me that is a comforting and lovely thought. My Dad had a nickname for me and I think about that a lot since he passed.
    The last name of Pearl is truly a treasure, a gem for sure; just like your writings are. Pearls of wisdom.
    Blessings!

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    1. LeAnn, Thank you for your very kind words.

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  14. Oh I just know your father has to be so proud of you, and your family and he's looking down with love and blessings for you all! A sweet Happy 100th....shooting upward!

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  15. a lasting tribute to your Dad! he must be smiling from heaven.

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  16. Happy Birthday to your Dad. He is not physically with you, but he is certainly celebrating with you.
    I love your name and the name of your blog.

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  17. I love your name Galen Pearl and will always think of you as that. Its a beautiful pen name. Wherever your dad is today I am sure he is proud of you.

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  18. That is the all-time pen name! You should have written The Great Gatsby.

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    1. JJ, Ha! Well, I don't know about great literature, but I'm so glad you like the story of the name!

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  19. I needed to read this. I am in the midst of legally changing my last name. I hate carrying the weight of my divorced name around and I don't want to go back to my maiden name. So I chose a nickname that I have Nicole Tilde. I usually just sign my name, Nicole~ anyway. It just seems obvious to me. I can't wait to rid myself of Rushin. I hate it so! We just got an email back from a lawyer the other day with the cost. Hopefully I can have it done soon. I just need to get the money to do it. So, I get it. I get that there is power in a name.

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    1. Nicole, It's interesting, isn't it, to choose our own name. I didn't know about your association with Rushin, so I've always liked it. I will like your new name, too! Thanks for commenting.

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  20. Galen Pearl - thank you for sharing the story of your pen name. What a great tribute to your Dad! You've done him and his name proud! ♥

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