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The Power of a Name

photo of baby

Every time I’m in a store or on a walk, and someone calls out my name, my spirit lifts. There’s something about being noticed. Something even greater about being called by name.

Fortunately, I have an unusual first name, and it’s one I really like. I have only met three other Jolenes in my lifetime, and we’ve all agreed it’s nice to have a memorable name. My cousin’s son, Matthew wasn’t happy to go to college and discover 14 other Matthews living in his dormitory corridor. (The Matthews got creative, however, and came up with other ways to be known.)

Unfortunately, I have a last name that most people do not know what to do with. My husband and I merged our last names when we married in the mid-80s. He was the Partain, and I was the Roehlke. Partainroehlke sounded like a car driving in a pot-hole infested road wherease Roehlkepartain rolled off our tongues. The trick has been to help people learn how to pronounce it: Roll-key-par-tane.

The other trick has been convincing our two children that having a 14-letter-long last name is a good thing. Both were convinced they would flunk first grade since their teacher said no one moved to second grade until he or she could spell both his or her first and last name. Now that they’re older, they’re proud to be one of four Roehlkepartains living on this planet.

When we learn each other’s names and call each other by name, we’re making a statement. We’re saying that each person is important—that each person matters. No matter how old or young we are, when we’re called by name, it opens up our soul.

Written by Jolene Roehlkepartain.