Monday, December 24, 2007

The Namesake Part 2

In an earlier post I talked about the movie "The Namesake" with Kal Penn, and how I related to the movie because of my own unique name.

I've read this headline many times throughout the years. "What's in a name?" Names become an important part of the parenting process, and in our case with our son, was an evolving process right down to the very day he was born.

I guess I've always wanted to name my son after me, since it's always been such a unique name I figured it couldn't hurt to pass it along. And since my wife is English, I figured having a Roman numeral at the end of a name wouldn't be so unusual, since they seem to do a fair amount of that in the United Kingdom.

But our son is not a member of the Royal family or a noble. Nope, he's just one-half English, one-half American/German/Irish (if it's possible to combine those three into one-half) and all parts darn cute.

We started early on with the name Lucas, and for those of you who know me and are asking if it has anything to do with Star Wars, the answer would be yes. Kind of.

Lucas was certainly at the top of the popular comtemporary names in many of the pamphlets and books we read, so it also didn't hurt that it was also the last name of Star Wars director George LUCAS, or that the main character in Star Wars is LUKE Skywalker. Soon after he was born, I got an e-mail from an old friend. Incidentally, this friend has a son named Indiana (as in another George Lucas franchise Indiana Jones).

The e-mail went like this:

"I have an over/under going with our old friends to see how long it takes you to say ‘Luke, I am your father...’

If it has already happened – I win."

By the time I had received the message, it had already happened, so indeed he had won.

While we then had a first name, and the last name was already a given, the search for a middle name would come to us through a series of unfortunate life events.

Joanne's grandfather Anthony Kassell was an interesting figure, a man with mountain of life experiences that easily translated into captivating stories. As an engineer on UK oil tankers, he had seen the world several times over. One favorite story was the time he had visited New York in the 1950s, when the Verrazano bridge was under construction. Workers on the superstructure were welding at the same time Mr. Kassell's oil tanker was passing underneath, and tensions on board were high as sparks landed on the fume-filled but empty oil storage tanks. The only casualty that day were nerves.

We were lucky to host Grandma and Grandad Kassell in New York last year. They came across on the Queen Mary 2 and stayed in Lower Manhattan right at the World Trade Center site. The empty area that once contained two of the world's largest buildings looked almost identical to the last time Mr. Kassell had seen this part of New York City - in the 1960s, when the World Trade Center site was just a construction area preparing for the towers that would rise here.

It was the last trip abroad for a man whose life was filled with adventure on the high seas. This summer, Grandad Kassell had a heart attack. He survived, and continued through treatment and health problems throughout the fall.

By the time his daughter, my wife's mother, was ready to make her trip across the ocean to be here for our baby's birth, Grandad seemed to be doing better.

She arrived in the states on December 9th. By December 14th, Grandad had taken a turn for the worse and was back in the hospital, and the outlook wasn't good.

We had hoped that we could keep a secret about our decision to give Lucas a middle name. We had decided several months back that it would be a good idea to name our son after his great-grandfather, and right from the first moment we discussed it we both realized that it fit and was the perfect name. And we didn't want anyone to know until Lucas was born.

But some events in life are tough to control, and by December 14th it was clear that if we wanted Great-Grandad Kassell to know, we would have to let the family know and hope he could get the message.

On Saturday the idea of our son's name became a reality when Grandma told Grandad in the hospital that when the baby came, he was going to be named Lucas Anthony Farabaugh.

We found out early the next morning that Grandad Kassell had passed away in the night. It was a tough time for everyone, particularly for my wife, who was going to give birth any day. It was also tough on my mother in law, who had to make the agonozing decision to return to England for a funeral that would happen on Christmas Eve, all the while not knowing when Lucas would indeed arrive.

And then, just one day after we received the news about Grandad Kassell, Joanne started to have contractions.

We entered the hospital early on December 18th, and by noon that day we were proud parents and grandmother. Lucas Anthony Farabaugh, named partly for the great-grandfather who passed just two days before, couldn't have come at a better time. His grandmother would actually be able to see him and be with him before she left to return for the funeral.

Lucas's birth was both a proud moment and a bittersweet occasion. The week began with the passing of one member of the family and ended with us bringing home another new member of the family. Two people who will unfortunately never have the chance to meet in this life, but will be forever connected by one simple name - Anthony.

1 comment:

syracuse said...

Thank you Kane, that was a lovely piece, you know how proud Grandad would have been and how much he would have loved Lucas....even more than he loved America! See you in...oh boy, 11 days.