Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Family names

Family names
17 October 2012

I love my family to death.  I really do.  But let’s face it, we’re not very bright when it comes to naming our offspring.  The older generation had a whole family name thing happening, which I was very happy to break free from.  I mean, seriously!  How many Dan’s, Willem’s, Magda’s, Helene’s and variations on Katrine can one family have?

For a while we had four generations of Magda followed by Helene Magda, followed by Magda, followed by Helene Magda again.  Firstly Magdalene, my great granny, who was fondly called Ouma Maggie.  Then there’s my Ouma Helene, christened Helene Magda.  Then there’s my mom, another Magdalene, simply called Maggie.  And bringing up the rear is me, Helene Magda.  I love my names.  A lot in fact and I’m named after awesome woman, yet I felt the need to start a new trend with my kids.  And in all fairness, not everyone played the family name game either, so it was not like I was the first one to spring free from the mould.  And then, just for fun, my sister named her daughter Honey Magda.  So very lovely and in hindsight I’m sorry that I didn’t give Amber a little Magda at the end of her name too.  It actually would have been awesome to keep it going so to speak.

The Willem’s are really only three.  My Oupa Willem, christened Willem Adriaan Lombard.  My uncle, Willem Adriaan Lombard, who for the longest time was called Willempie, until he finally outgrew the “pie” as a teenager.  And my youngest cousin, Willem Adriaan Lombard, son of Willem-“pie” and grandson of Oupa Willem.  Ironically, the last Willem Adriaan, never went by either the Willem or the Adriaan tag to his name, and is called Attie, by all.  Are you confused yet?  Oh, yes, and then I also have another cousin whose second name is Willem, so does that mean there's four Willem's?

Now the Dan part of the family, is probably the longest chapter.  And for easy reference, though all are called Dan with the exception of one, when we refer to them, we use different tags to identify exactly which Dan we’re speaking about.  There was Oupa Dan, who is dearly departed, and is still spoken about often.  Brother Dan, also called Bra-Dan, and even though he’s technically my uncle, I’ve also used these tags to clarify its him.  Cousin Dan or Klein Dan, also called Boetie Dan.  And the youngest addition, is klein Daniel.  And going back a bit further in the family tree, there was also long-Daantjie (obviously a very tall Dan), Senator Dan, etc.  A virtual plethora of them.

Believe it or not, but my mother and her one brother have the same second name, Nel.  I know, huh???  But whereas Jac’s (christened Jacobus Gideon Nel) refers to the surname, my mom’s (Magdalene Nel) refers to a beloved aunt, my Ouma Helene’s sister.  Are you sure you’re not confused yet?  Hey, I feel your pain.  I’m part of the family and I need a slide rule at times.  And don’t even think about getting Grant started.

And finally there are about a million variations on Katrine.  Ostensibly, my sister, Katrine, is named after my Dad’s mom, as the family naming rule dictates.  But where my beloved Ouma Cathy’s birth names are Catharina Louisa Frederica, my parents wisely decided to soften the name to Katrine Louise.  A fact I’m sure my sister is ever so grateful for.  I have another Loubser cousin, also named after Ouma Cathy, yet she is actually called Catherine, also choosing a softened version.  Funny enough on Grant’s side of the family, his Ouma is also called Kathy, but stems from Kathleen.  Then my sister married her lovely Robin, whose eldest daughter is called…..Kati Louise.  I know!  Go figure!  Too bizarre for words.  And just to make it that little bit more peculiar, when my mom married her Rob, she gained a stepdaughter and I gained a stepsister, called…..Katarina!  Wacky, hey?

Then there's my brother, called Albert, named according to the rule after his paternal grandfather, Albertus.  Lucky for him the "us" got lost in translation.  And then just in keeping he named his one daughter quite accidently after a great grandmother, Bella, and the other daughter after our father, Frankie.  Well, not his birthname, but the name everyone called him by.  Yip, we're not quite normal.

Now there is a marvellous fringe benefit to the naming debacle.  Because at a family gathering if someone merely calls out “Dan”, about four people are likely to step forward.  And the same goes for the other names as well.  There are simply always two Helene’s present as well as a few Willem’s.  And I still often get referred to as Helenetjie or little Helene.  Too sweet for words.  In fact, I wasn’t ever supposed to be Helene Magda.  But when it came to registering my birth and my Dad had to hand over the completed forms, the lonesome “Helene” looked a bit sad to him, so on the spur of the moment and quite impulsively, he added the Magda along.  I’m sure a delightful surprise for my mom when my forms finally arrived in the post.

So, I’ve thought to myself.  Apart from being named after my most amazing grandmother, surely there have to be other benefits to carrying her name.  And then I had a light bulb moment.  Aha!  Of course yes!!!  As the eldest grandchild and a granddaughter at that, named after my gran, it only stands to reason, that I inherit Cloetenberg, Kleinbaai and the Doll’s House.  It makes perfect sense to me and I beg anyone to disagree.  First come, first served and all that.  And if having a great grandson named after my grandfather would up our odds, I will gladly rename both my boys Willem Adriaan too.  We can start by calling Luke, Willie to ease the confusion.  And Cole will be called Riaan.  All sorted!

So, I’m thinking, if I put my Welsh Dresser in the downstairs lounge, then I can put my lounge suite in the upstairs lounge.  I will turn Oupa’s outside office, into my study, and the garage will be perfect for the Jumping Castles.  Probably end up taking the bunk beds to Kleinbaai and my extra dinner service as well.  And just perhaps, I’ll move the Doll’s House to my bedroom, so that I can lie in bed at night and admire it.


  1. Hi Helene!!! Giggle giggle!!
    I must say I still think it is a great tradition.
    Now we have a Frank and Frankie, and Ouma Bella and little Bella too....all unplanned really.
    As usual, loved your blog!

  2. Fabulous as always! We have a Bella and a Katy too!!

  3. i just love this one! and yes, you should inherit everything! snaaks, ek wou altyd vir rebekka isabella genoem het....sommer net. vind laas jaar eers uit dat my ma se pa se ma isabella was en....wag vir dit....haar verjaarsdag is op dieselfde dag as rebekka sin....!really!