“Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”—Ephesians 6: 2-3.
I dedicate this message to my parents.
The meaning of my name, Alan, is “precious.” Well, being my parents gave me this name, I accept it as a gift from the two precious people who also gave me life.
My mother’s name was Agnes, which means pure, but she went by a name related to her birth name. For as long as I can remember my dad, her sisters, her friends, and others called her Nancy. Nancy means favour or grace, or God has favoured me.
My grandparents gave my dad the name, “David.” The meaning of his name is, “beloved.” Most people called him, “Dave.”
My parents had distinct differences in personalities from each other. My dad could be strict and firm, yet soft, full of fun and love. Love, gentleness, funny, and thoughtful come to my mind when I think of my mom. My parents raised me along with my five siblings as best they could. They raised us when it was common for a mother to stay home for her children. She did this well.
My dad worked most of his teen years until he joined the British Navy as a young man of eighteen at the time of World War Two. He never spoke of the war years. I never knew him to be out of work until he retired when he turned sixty-five. As a Christian, he loved to sing in the church choir.
I gave no thought to the meaning of my name when I was in my younger years. I remember many times while in school I wished I had an alternate name. Teachers had the irritating habit of using the alphabet as a tool. For instance, I can still hear the words of my teacher’s introduction to a class assignment. “I will call out your names alphabetically and you will tell the class what you did this summer. Okay, Alan, you are first.” No escape to this agony presented itself. “Come on Alan, we’re waiting.” Full of reluctance, I stood up and informed my classmates of my summer.
Many times, when I got home from school, I asked my mom, the favoured one, things like, “How come both my names begin with the letter “A”?” In a masterful way, my mom would reply, “Because that’s your name!” What? How does this help? She would then sit me down and give me a cookie. I still love cookies.
My dad worked as a school custodian prior to my parents packing us up and emigrating to Canada. When I was eight, my dad taught me how to clean out the coal furnaces responsible for heating the school. This was a tough job, but I soon became used to it. The coal dust made me dirty, and this never thrilled my mom. I was fine with it.
Those memorable days with my parents are in the distant past. I still look back on them as precious. Now I am older, I understand the meaning of my name even more. Life is precious and in God’s eyes I am as well.
Both of my parents died a few years ago. I think of them every day. They are never far from my thoughts. Thank God for precious memories with them. May their memories be eternal.
Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017 and Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018. Alan has also written articles for FellowScript Magazine. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca. Alan is the Provincial Rep. Liaison and BC Rep for InScribe. Alan is currently working on his book, "Plant Them A Garden: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry.