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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Friday, July 06, 2007

Webbinsonte: A Lovely Name

We wanted to name our first daughter after Emily Webb (from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town), Emily Dickinson, and Emily Bronte, so we called her Webbinsonte. We knew it was a bit unusual. Some may find it a little hard to spell, even harder to pronounce, but we liked it. When we explained her name to friends, they just looked blankly back at us, jaws limp, lips trying to form words, but nothing came out. They were speechless—
so I guess they liked it, too.

Sure there were some drawbacks— like trying to find “name” souvenirs when we went on vacation. Little Webby [that’s what we sometimes called her when she was younger] would run up to the mug or necklace display with naïve anticipation.

“It should be right here between Wanda and Wendy,” she’d announce, but of course it never was. We often had to drag her sobbing from the store. It's still hard to talk about.

Eventually the kids at school started making cruel fun of little Webby with playground chants like, "Little Webby Whaa Whaa...
go and run to Daa Daa!" Every day she came home from kindergarten in tears.

"It's that Dufus boy, isn't it." I insisted.

"His name is Rufus, Dad, Rufus not Dufus, and actually he's the nicest boy I know. He understands. He sticks up for me every day."

"Well, good. And next time the other kids make fun of you, remind them that it's a literary name, sort of, and that all three of those ladies were very smart so you're smarter than three of them put together. Then stick out your tongue like this. That'll show 'em."

"But, Dad, that childish rebuttal would just be returning evil for evil. You and Mom have always said no good can come of that."

"You're right. See? You're so smart you even remember the things I forgot we taught you!"

We decided to drop the nick-name Webby and go with the full Webbinsonte in hopes that someday she'd thank us for being the only girl in the world with such a lovely name. A few years later, in the summer after her 3rd grade year, we spent the day on Mackinac Island. Heading back to the ferry, we gave her $10.00 to buy any souvenir she wanted at a little emporium beside the fudge shop.

“Anything?” she asked.
“Yes, Webbinsonte, anything you like.”
“Can I go inside by myself to pick it out?”

We didn’t mind, and off she went. In no time, she came out with bag held in both hands and a smile from ear to ear, insisting we not look inside the bag until we got home. That night she called us into her room and there on her dresser was a mug with the name “Emily” on it.

“Oh, Webbinsonte, I’m sorry they didn’t have the right mug. We could have ordered one special for you like always.” I looked around the room at all the Webbinsonte knick-knacks we’d special ordered through the years. (My favorite was her Mickey Mouse beanie. Her name didn’t fit between the ears so they sewed it from front to back down the middle like a Mohawk. I told her it made her hat special just like her name. She was so happy she cried the rest of the day at Disney World. There was no wind, but somehow the thing kept blowing off.)

“Dad… Dad…” my daughter's voice snapped me back to reality from my nostalgic tour of her room. “Dad, this is the right mug. I love the name Emily. My best friends call me Emily when we’re alone.

“What?” I stammered in dismay.
“How do you know who they’re talking to?” her mother asked.
“Because it’s me. You can still say I’m named after Emily Webb from Our Town, Emily Dickinson, and Emily Bronte because they all shared the first name Emily, see? It’s been there all along. That’s just as literary as Webbinsonte when you think of it like that.”
"Oh, I see, use the first names," said her mother, eyebrows rising.
“Hmmmm... sounds crazy," I pondered out loud, "So crazy it might just work. We'll give it a shot, Web—I mean … Emily…”

So after all those years of wondering why she hated roll call, we changed her name. I know what you’re thinking: Emily is so common, and I suppose it is. That's why we wanted to spell it Emmaleigh—you know, to give it some panache—but she pointed out that if we did, she would have to take that mug back to Mackinac Island.

She’s always been very practical.... gets that from her mom and me.

... Y H Y H Y H Y H Y ...

I have no idea what prompted me to post this fabricated farce—it just happened after a fun, carefree week of summer. The truth is, we chose the name Emily for our firstborn daughter long before she was born. There is some truth in the tale: we did choose the name partly in recognition of those three literary ladies.

If you’re familiar with Our Town, our newlyweds remind me of George and Emily sitting in that soda shop. They were high school sweethearts who decided to stay local, get jobs, and commute to college where they’re both in a five-year teaching program. They're second-year seniors at GVSU with only student teaching left.

So for 22 years they’ve remained a part of their respective households in a [relatively] small town setting. The two families are good friends, and Keith and Em gradually became part of each home as they’ve dated for five years. A week ago tonight was rehearsal… then Whoosh! It was and is the real thing, a new life... a new home together. [As Keith put it in his farewell remarks at the reception... "The two of us are now one...so the one of us...want to thank you all for being a part of our lives and this day..."] We're happy for them and that, for now anyway, they're still in the cast of our town.


Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I don't know, Webbinsonte has a nice ring to it; like a George Foreman Grill.

6/7/07 10:26 PM  
Blogger Julie said...


It has been awhile since I have been on your site. Beautiful pictures of what I am sure was a beautiful wedding. Thanks for sharing. I really loved your poem to, very touching.

Julie B.

6/7/07 11:58 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Glad you got the flavor of this light post--and cooking it on a George Foreman Grill will reduce the fat! =)

Julie B,
I'm afraid these last two posts took you from the sublime to the ridiculous, but you know me so you know both adjectives fit. =)
It was a wonderful wedding, and hasn't this been a beautiful week here in West Michigan?

We're off to the other side of the state to celebrate my Grandmother's 96th Birthday.

7/7/07 7:36 AM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

Webbinsonte may have a nice ring to it, but I was relieved to find out the story was fabricated although I pretty much suspected it was.

Too bad that it was not fabrication for the little girl whose mom decided to name her Placenta. (True story.) To the ear Placenta sounds delightful...if you just didn't know its meaning.

Happy birthday to your grandmother. 96! Wow! I visited an aunt down in Springfield, Il. last weekened when we took in the Lincoln Museum. She is 92. Unfortunately she is in a nursing home suffering with Alzheimer's. I have two other aunts in their nineties. One is 98 and the other is 94. Both have their faculties and are able to live independently. I hope I have inherited their genes.

7/7/07 8:39 AM  
Blogger jewell said...

I laughed through that whole post. Unfortunately, that was so true of my name. I was named by my aunt believe it or not. My mother's sister, Esther, lived with us all of of my childhood and is like a second mother to me. My mom & dad let her name me. I was named after Jewell Ready, a writer of Sunday School materials for the Assembly of God Church (I would never let my sister name my child :) but I guess in the 60's that might have been normal or maybe my mom & dad were just too nice :} Anyway, I could never find anything with my name on it and it was so depressing at times. If I did find it, the spelling was wrong with only one "L". Yes, I have an extra "L" at the end. I remember desperately wanting something with my name on it. Well one day I came upon my aunt stitching something. When it was finished I had my very own white patch with the correct spelling of my name sewn in red. Did I ever put the patch on anything? No, I guess I just wanted something to hold and treasure with my name on it. I have it to this day. When I was younger everyone with my name was a "little old lady". Well, now that I am in my 40's funny how more and more people have my name and they are not so old anymore :). I do love my name now and Emily is a beautiful name too.

7/7/07 9:33 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

Pretty good idea, her and her friends had of re-naming herself but staying true to the intent of the name.

My daughter Karyn was also never ably to find stuff when she was young with the Y in it. So I made it myself, little license plate for her bike and a coat hanger bent into her name.

Happy Birthday to Granny, compared to mine she is still a young un. Mine lived until 105 with all of her being intact. But happy birthday to the kid anyway.

Nice farcical post Tom and wonderful things said about "The Kids" glad they are happy.



7/7/07 12:01 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Grandma was in great form yesterday. She is alert, converstaional, "full of vim and vinegar" as she always used to say. She amazes us all.
We had a big tent and seating for 80 set up at Pine Grove Park in Port Huron. It was a great time. My mom, her sister and brother (that's all the aunts and uncle on that side) were there, too, so it was sort of a mini-familly reunion. That side of the family has always had at least on big picnic each year. Glad we could make it. Another beautiful day up here in Michigan.

At least yours is a beautifully uncommon name that sounds regal and treasured. Webbinsonte lacks that quality. =)
Now that I know you had a hard time finding things with your name on it, I feel extra bad that I made that mistake of thinking your comment sometime back was from the only other Jewell (former student)I've ever met. Now I'll always get it right. =)

You were able to write Karyn by bending a wire hanger? You are not only a poet--you're a creative artist--a little twisted perhaps [pun]--but an artist none the less.
Going to be a hot one in the Detroit area today--96. I stayed up last night and watched the Tigers beat Boston in the 13th!

We're still over here in Port Huron. (I didn't bring my lap-top, but this motel lobby has internet so I hpped on for a few minutes.)

The word verification scamble under this box is WORMTOG--now there's a name!

8/7/07 8:10 AM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

I just finished reading an earlier post you did about President Bush. I left a comment there.

8/7/07 1:10 PM  
Blogger Dr.John said...

Naming kids is a weird sort of thing. Betty went to the hospital and we had decided to call the baby John Arvid after my father. The next thing I knew he was Peter John because she heard the name and liked it. THen we used the P & J for each of the other two kids. So we had a Patrick James and a Pennie Jean.

8/7/07 4:35 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

I just clicked onto the comments, saw JR's comment and burst out laughing. Too funny.

Webbinsonte sort of has a nice ring to it, I guess, but I suspected you and your wife were too stylish to saddle your daughter with a made-up name. Emily is a beautiful name.

8/7/07 9:07 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

We just pulled in and unpacked from Port Huron (my grandma's 96th birthday). I'll go back to that April post. I thought of that post on the 4th when I saw the first President Bush on C-Span.

Dr. John,
We did a similar thing with the next two girls that were born. For some reason we wanted them to sound good alike as sisters so the 2nd was Kimberly and the last is Natalie. They are close sisters (even the youngest). Here's another interesting family fact: our second two daughters were born on the same date 8 years apart and have shared a birthday ever since.

JRT does have a way with just the right line. Hey, you know that lake he's always out fishing bass on? I spent several hours on Lake Huron myself today and have the sunburned nose to prove it. It was great. My brother in law has a nice boat and had it in a slip there in Port Huron this week.

Highlight of the trip?...
On our way home Emily and Keith called from a Texas airport. We hadn't heard from them (and rightly so) for over a week. They had a great time in Acapulco. They can't wait to show us the pictures. Good to have them back in town.

8/7/07 9:53 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

For those who read comments of past posts,
I'd like to direct you to a beautiful tribute written by Julie B. (comment #2 above)about her father-in-law who passed away suddenly the day of our rehearsal dinner. I did not know it at the time, or the even the week after, because we were kind of "checked out" after the wedding. Ironically, my family was going through the exact opposite emotional week that Julie B's was going through. She shares some beautiful thoughts at “Husband, Father, Grandfather, and Friend”

12/7/07 7:42 AM  

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