Letter: The value of one’s name

Published 7:01 am Sunday, February 5, 2017

During the four years I lived in Austin, I was pretty much known as Ann’s mom. I did eventually have a first name, but because she kept her “original” last name, we were both Hokansons.

In raising our five, Jim and I stressed the fact that what the kids did reflected on our family name. We were the only ones in a small town with that last name, so if someone were talking about the Hokansons, it was US and no other family involved. Making it even more important was the fact that we were teachers, and as such represented, we thought, what a “good family” was all about and what that meant to us and to others. (all the more since in that town I was known among the old folks as Gertrude’s daughter or among older folks as the Thiemann granddaughter).

What a unique position I found myself then, in Austin. The tables turned and now I had to live up to being Ann’s mom and whatever anyone thought about the name Hokanson. I had to follow in my child’s establishment of her “good name” and what that implied. Not that many parents have the opportunity to be in that challenge? predicament? scary thought? Who would ever have considered that quirk in life?

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Unfortunately, not many ever had a chance to meet and know Ann’s dad. He didn’t have the chance to see how his Hokanson name was viewed by people he never knew. I did. The whole idea of what a name means or represents is worth more than a moment’s consideration. Whether someone has children or not, the value of a last name, an “original” name, follows us around the world wherever we happen to land. It can never be shed.

Happy to be, Ann’s mom

(Mary Agnes Werth Hokanson),