Monday, May 17, 2010

I Got A Name

Like the pine trees linin' the windin' road
I've got a name, I've got a name
Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad
I've got a name, I've got a name

I was attending a workshop the other day, or staff development as they like to call it, at work. It was based on the work of Dr. Ruby Payne and dealt with multiculturalism and poverty and the differences in learning. The presenter wasn’t Dr. Payne. To set the stage she gave us an ‘icebreaker’ activity. Typically I hate icebreaker type activities. I’m basically shy, although people who know me well beg to differ. My theory is they don’t really know me well or I've become so used to them I'm not shy with them. Anyway, I have to warm up to strangers. I do it on my timeline, and don’t like to be forced into touchy-feely activities that make me uncomfortable. But if you are a staff developer, trainer or teacher, that’s what is expected. It’s an unwritten part of the training process. Unfortunately I subject other people to this type of activity when I do the training. Somehow it’s not as bad administering as receiving!

This time, though, the activity was actually interesting, and in my mind, non-threatening. She had five questions on a paper and you were supposed to write the answers. Because the questions interested me I followed instructions and wrote my answers. The questions were as follows:

1. Write your whole name.
2. Were you named after someone? Who?
3. Is there anyone else in your family with the same name as you?
4. What does your name mean? Where does it come from?
5. Did you or anyone else name someone after you?

My name is not common. My first name is probably the most common of my whole name but the way it is spelled makes it uncommon. My name is Jamye and I’m named after my dad. I was supposed to be a boy. He’s James. So I’m Jamye. I have a sister who was also supposed to be a boy. Her name is Judi. Judith really. We always joke that I got her ‘y’ and she got my ‘i’. Then they finally got their boy. James Jr. or Jimmie as he's called.

I have three kids. Callye is named after my mother, Carolyn, and her dad, Alan. C for Carolyn and Al for her dad. The ‘ye’ is for me. She has a made up middle name, JaRae. The ‘Ja’ is for me and the Rae is for her dad whose middle name is Ray. All of the kids got a ‘y’ in their name for me. There’s an interesting story about Callye’s name. She was the first grandchild on that side of the family. My grandfather asked me what we were going to name the baby. I told him Callye. He said, “That was my great great grandmother’s name.” She was born in a wagon train crossing the US. Her name was California Mary and they called her Callie. I didn’t have a clue.

Bryce is the oldest son. His dad came up with that name. His middle name is Alan after his dad. I had decided on a girl name but left the boy name up to his dad. He had a good friend named Olen. His first impulse was to name him Alan Olen or Olen Alan. Yucko. So Bryce it is. I wanted Evan Alan. My husband said that sounded too much like a furniture company. I’m not sure where he got Bryce. The youngest is named Tyson. When I was pregnant with him Mike Tyson was popular so the kids at school were sure that is who he’s named after. It’s not. He is named after my husband’s step father, Tyson. His middle name is James after my dad. We call him Ty.

My maiden name is unique. It always seemed to be anyway, because nobody could ever spell it or say it right. It’s not that hard. Four letters. Exum. Say it like X-em. I looked it up. According to there are 3,178 people in the U.S. with the last name Exum and statistically it is the 10609th most popular last name. That’s not real high on the list! My grandfather was named Ermer James. My dad got the James from him, and he from his dad. There were six kids in his family, all names starting with an E except for one. I don’t know who was oldest but their names were Ermer, Ernest, Edward (Joe), Era, Euell and Fred. Fred’s middle name was Lafayette after another ancestor. Granddaddy’s dad was Ira James and his mother Ethel Euver Lanham Exum. I guess that’s why the kids got the E names. I'm glad my parents chose the James part to name me after!

My paternal grandmother was named Opal Odelle. Her maiden name was Harrell, which she gave my dad as a middle name and he passed on to my brother. When my grandmother was pregnant her sister was also pregnant. They were due about the same time. Her sister had picked James Harrell out for a name for her baby should he be a boy. Grandmother had my dad first and took the name. I never told anyone what baby names I had picked out because of that. She had two sisters and two brothers. John was lost in the war and never found. Fleta and Nadine were her sister’s names. Charlie was the baby and was about the same age as my dad. Her mother was Ethel Mary and her father John.

My maternal grandfather was Charles William. I don’t know anything about his family. He had a brother who looked just like him because he was at his funeral. It was creepy because my Papaw was dead but there was a man who looked just like him standing there. His last name was Arthur. My grandmother used to say Pretty Boy Floyd was an ancestor because his name is Charles Arthur Floyd. I don’t know. Her name was Bessie Lee. Her maiden name was Billberry. Her dad was James Raleigh and her mother Catherine "Kate" Stoneman. She had two brothers and two sisters, William (?), George, Myrtle and Imaree. I never got to meet any of my great grandparents.

My daughter has blessed us with three grandchildren. She named the first Evan Alan. I finally got an Evan Alan. The second boy is named Caleb Ray. The Ray is after his dad who goes by Bernie. Then there is Mia Isabel. She is called Belle. When she starts school she will probably be Mia because that’s her true first name. Also, Isabella is the most popular girls name right now so there’s bound to be several in her class.

When I married my name became Swinford. It’s possibly Irish, but I don’t know. My husband’s father is Fagin. He doesn’t have a middle name. There were nine kids in his family. Supposedly his great grandfather had 21 kids in the family, no twins. That would be horrible. The lady was pregnant her whole life! His grandmother was named Fannie Stewart. He’s not sure about the spelling. She had siblings but we don’t know how many. We do know that she and her sister married brothers. My husband thinks he might be related in some way to every Swinford in the US!

When I did a search to see if anyone had my name, spelled the way I spell it, I came up with a website called It has some facts I found amusing.

1. 31% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names we looked at, 74% have a higher vowel make-up. This means it is modestly envoweled.
2. In ASCII binary it is... 01001010 01100001 01101101 01111001 01100101 00100000 01010011 01110111 01101001 01101110 01100110 01101111 01110010 01100100
3. Backwards, it is Eymaj Drofniws... nice ring to it, huh?
4. In Pig Latin, it is Amyejay Infordsway.
5. People with this first name are probably: Male or female... We don't know yet. We're working on it!

There are also fewer than 1,547 people in the U.S. with the first name Jamye and 1 or fewer people in the U.S. are named Jamye Exum. There are 3,684 people in the U.S. with the last name Swinford, statistically the 9314th most popular last name. That’s a lot more popular than Exum! And finally, there are 1 or fewer people in the U.S. named Jamye Swinford. So it seems I’m unique in one way at least!

It used to be drilled that having a good name is related to your reputation. I’m not sure that it’s that way today. I’m not sure that people are even aware of the connection, must less a good reputation. But it’s still important even today. A good reputation is how people look at you. Does it matter? Possibly, no if you have a good self-esteem and know you are okay. But in another way it’s very important. It’s important, even with good self-esteem because your reputation is used for practical purposes. It’s a social world we live in and friendship and income depend on reputation. You won’t have friends if people think you’re mean or spiteful. You won’t have a job if you aren’t reliable or if you are lazy or dishonest. Reputation is built partly on action but it’s also built on perception. Others perception of you and your actions can influence even other peoples perceptions of you. And so the cycle begins.
The Internet and social networking has a lot to do with reputations. It’s said that an employer will check Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and any other social network out there when a prospective employee applies. In an interview you can tell anyone what they want to hear. If they look on your Facebook account they will get a true picture of who you are. Think twice about what you post!

Finally, let me apologize to anyone who might read what I write here. I noticed, when I was reading back, the emphasis on the unknown regarding graduation. Did I mention it in what, three posts? It must be a Freudian thing or something because obviously I’m the one who is scared and nervous about it, not the kids!

The knitayear project, which I’m really enjoying, is current. The 45th, 46th and 47th days are in this post. Saturday was a good day. Everyone was relaxed. There wasn’t anywhere anyone was supposed to be at a certain time. We enjoyed sleeping in and a leisurely visit to a bookstore. I chose a blue/green/purple yarn because I was peaceful. It seemed to reflect the peaceful nature of the day and the gentle letdown after a lifelong memory. Sunday, May 16, was the long ride home. It was a pleasant trip, especially since I didn’t have to drive! It rained some but otherwise the weather was nice. I chose a gold yarn with a purple thread twisted around it. It seemed to be a peaceful color with an evenly twisted thread that reminded me of the great memories that were just made. Monday was a day off from work. I was so thankful that I had the foresight to take the day off. I was tired and recuperating from the long ride, from the trip and just from the emotion of it all. I found a green yarn that reminded me of gentle grass and trees. It seemed peaceful and restful, which I needed to be. I thought about my name, my background and my kids and what they mean to me. I thought about how I became who I am. And I remember my name.

And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I'm livin' the dream that he kept hid
Movin' me down the highway
Rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

1 comment:

  1. Great post Jayme! I am like you... DO NOT make me be touchy feely before I'm ready and get outta my bubble! :p
    I like the graphic you made from the names. I have used that's fun. I admire your knitting commitment!