Baby names aren’t strictly baby names because, if you’re old enough to read this, you’re no longer a baby. And the name given you – without your input, additionally – sticks with you. Forever.

Sure, if you hate the name given you by your parents, later in life you can take to legal means to choose something more to your liking… but not after a few playground punch-ups for being named “Euclid Montegeaux Wigglesworth.” Criminy, what can be done? Bloody noses are such a chore. Orthodontics expensive. Got it!

Don’t give your baby a crappy name. From the start.

Fortunately for me, my Clare already had a pair of excellent names chosen for our kids. Not crappy. Really good names.

If a lad, Cole. If a lass, Bella.

All good! Both names… hold it, wait. Bella. Hon, you’re not the world’s biggest Twilight fan of all and ever, are you? Because I might like Yoda better than Cole.

Nope. Bella is Italian for “beautiful.” My Castilian beauty was going with her heritage, and that rocks. Bella is fine with me. Excellent, in fact. I like Bella. I like Cole.

For my part of this lovely conversation, I said to Clare, “Hon, you’re the only child of your generation, and a girl. Even with children of our own, the Castellano name comes to an end. How do you feel about hyphenated surnames?”

Big hug, big kiss, big happy tears. Score!

“Clare, family and heritage is so important to me. It’s not proper for Castellano to fizzle away.

“If I can ask a favor in the same lines, may I offer what I’d like for middle names?

“My mom’s name was Josette Isabelle Chang. My dad’s name is Stanley Melvin Bringe.”

Our children’s names were to be:

Cole Stanley Castellano-Bringe


Bella Josette Castellano-Bringe

This was one of my favorite conversations with my Clare. In two names spoke honor, happiness, tradition, hope, future, and joy.

I love you, Clare. And by the by, Clare HATED Clarissa as her name. And the misspelling “Claire.” Case in point.