What’s in a name? With regards to Mr. Shakespeare, kind of a lot, actually. Before we knew my son’s gender, before a child had even been conceived, we knew he or she would be called Del. My father was Delbert, went by Del. He passed away in 2005 on Christmas morning. He never had the chance to meet the woman who became my wife and mother of my son, though when I got home for my break that year he got an earful about this person I’d decided I was crazy about, and he saw her picture. “Long necked thing isn’t she?” He meant it as a compliment. He never got to see me as an adult, really, out of school on my own in New York City (didn’t miss too much there, Dad). And of course he never got to meet his grandson, and his grandson will never meet his namesake. But he will know him, because he will carry his name for the rest of his life and we will teach him what that name means. Humility, kindness–especially to those who need our help, loyalty to those we love, common sense, a quick laugh–even if the joke’s on you unless you walk into a screen door in your hotel room because you thought it was open and God help anyone in the room who laughs at you, gentleness, just a hint of rebellion.
Del’s middle name is William, after his living grandfather, my father-in-law. Del will get to see firsthand how great a guy he is, so we know those bases are covered.
My dad was named after a Delbert as well, Delbert George Adamson. My grandfather (“Pawpaw”) met him in boot camp after enlisting in the Marines the January after Pearl Harbor. They became fast friends and Delbert and his wife Merna were witnesses to my grandparents’ wedding while my grandfather was on leave. The men were part of the initial assault on Iwo Jima. My grandfather made it through the battle, but Delbert did not. Pawpaw named his next child after Delbert, and the following child, my aunt, after Delbert’s wife Merna.
There is a legacy and a weight to this name, and I will teach my son how to carry that weight gracefully.
Colin Fisher is many things to many people, but mostly he’s an actor and writer.