What’s in a name? A lot of fun evidently

If you ask my husband his name be prepared to settle down for a long, long, long discourse of an answer.

“Well, my first name was Hershberger,” he responds.

They look at him a bit puzzled. “Hershberger?”

“Yes, before I was born and before they knew whether I was a boy or girl, I already had the name Hershberger after my father’s side of the family.”

“Oh, yes,” they stutter.

“And then my second name was supposed to be Rosemary. After having had two boys, my parents were sure that this time it would be a girl and so they intended to call me Rosemary.

“Obviously I was not a girl,” says this father of six. “So they chose the next best thing to it ‘Marion’ and tacked on my father’s name of ‘Joseph’ so I was named Marion Joseph at birth.”

“And you know it is a Biblical name,” he goes on to say,

Before they can puzzle that out, he tells about one of his pastors who asked everyone with a Bible name to stand up.

“I stood up. The pastor looked at me and asked, ‘What is your biblical name?’”

“Marion Joseph.”

The pastor started to dismiss him as another overly eager little kid.

“You know, Mary ‘n’ Joseph, but no baby Jesus,” my punster laughs.

The pastor gave him the look that said, “You have had your fun, now sit down.”

He thought it was funny then and the older he gets, the more he laughs.

Everyone for years called him Marion. Through school, through half a dozen different jobs he was ‘Marion’. Then he met me. I already had two Marions in my family – an Aunt Marion, my mother’s sister, and Marian, the mother of a cousin my age. I could not call a guy Marion with an ‘a’ or an ‘o’. For the longest time I simply called him Mr. Hershberger or Hershberger or Hershy.

When we became engaged my friend thought I needed to change that.

“I will call you ‘Joseph’,” I declared. One of his older brothers uses his middle name, so I extended the practice to the third son, then my finance and now my husband.

So the saga of answering the question about his name continues, “Then, when I met Joan I became ‘Joseph.’”

He’s right. I changed the name for calling him to supper. I have persisted with the nomenclature ‘Joseph’ except when I am angry, then he becomes “Marion.” Or if I am really weary his long story about his first name being ‘Hershberger’, he becomes, “Mr. Hershberger.” Plus, I have a few other names for him depending on the day’s mood. Hershey, Hershenberger or even Josephus all suffice, but never ‘Joe.’ That was his dad’s name.

Somehow in the south where many have two names, there are folks who find it nearly impossible to add that second syllable to his name. So he is ‘Joe’ to folks who know both of us in Arkansas; ‘Marion’ to those who knew him in Arkansas in the work place and always ‘Marion’ to the family and friends from his Indiana home town.

Take it or leave it, my husband, with a name reflecting the adults in the holy family, whose first name always was Hershberger, really does fit the name Joseph as far as I’m concerned. As he says, I gave him the name because he’s a dreamer. He has had great dreams for lots of traveling, remodeling, and finding as many people as he can who will listen to his pun and the saga he spiels when asked, “what is your name?”

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