What’s in a name anyway?

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My nephew got married over a recent weekend and this is worthy of note for a few reasons. He’s the first on my side of the family to get married, whereas all of my wife’s nieces and nephews are already married. I have three siblings and between them they have five boys, no girls. My wife and I don’t have any children, which I will explain a little later.

When Diane and I got married almost 34 years ago, we thought we were being progressive by having her hyphenate her last names to Graves-Lis, which she has legally used since then. What I found out at this wedding is that many couples are now being even more progressive by ditching their original last names for a new combined last name that they will both use as well as for any children they may have. That’s what my nephew Ben and his new bride Jenna did, combining Lis and Farwell into Mr. and Mrs. Liswell.

That got me thinking that it would have been cool if when Diane and I got married we had both taken the last name of Gravelis, as in never being buried. Or better yet, since there are no real rules for combining or creating new last names, what if we go with the “vanity plate” model and do something like Edmund and Diane Arelove, or Mr. and Mrs. Sospecial or how about Diane and Edmund Thegreat.

But seriously, I think what Ben and Jenna did in creating a new last name is very sweet and also smart, in that it shows how committed they are to having an equal marriage. I wish them all the best.

Does it bother me that there is one less chance for the Lis name to be carried on? Not really, since I made the choice years ago not to have children and knew that my personal bloodline would stop with me. Plus what’s in a name anyway? I don’t know the exact details of how my family got the name Lis, what I do know is that Lis is the translation for Fox in Polish. My dad also told me when I was younger that some of his relatives used the German translation of Fox which is spelled Fuchs and sounds like what you think it sounds like.

So I guess I could change my name to Fox, but I don’t think anyone has ever thought of me as a fox. Plus then I couldn’t use my silly puns like “ignorance is Lis” or my newest one, “Lis is more.”

OK, enough about names, let’s get back to the wedding. Ben and Jenna are a beautiful, smart, healthy, caring couple. They are both in their late twenties, Cal-Poly graduates, both working at a large accounting firm and living in San Francisco. Their future is so bright everyone around them needs to wear shades. Same goes for the large contingent of millennial friends, schoolmates, and coworkers that were in attendance. They looked ready to conquer the world.

At one point during the reception I looked around the room at all the young people talking, laughing, drinking and having a great time. I leaned over to Diane and said something to the nature of them having their whole lives ahead of them, she replied in a whisper, “not all of them.” It was like a reality punch to the gut and I knew exactly what she was thinking. It wasn’t about all the young people around us it was about Julia from Winters, another beautiful, smart, and caring millennial who has no future, only a past because she died last week in a tragic accident.

That’s kind of the Yin and Yang of life. You can be in the middle of a joyous occasion and think of something sad, or I’ve been to sad funerals where someone will say or do something funny and you start laughing. There is such a fine emotional line between what we are feeling at any given moment or situation that sometimes you just have to say screw it, I feel what I feel and there’s no point in trying to control it.

That’s also how I feel about my family name, it is what it is. I could have been a Fox, a Fuchs, or anything else some long forgotten ancestor decided to call himself but I’m a Lis and I’m good with that. As for the rest of the family, they can do what they want, be as creative as they want, because what’s in a name anyway. No one really cares except maybe ancestry.com, because this trend is going to make their job that much harder.

For archives of Edmund’s columns please visit www.whatsthepoint-edmund.blogspot.com

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