Changing name good or bad?

I was named after my grandmother and her parents came from Spain in fact my great-grandmother was pregnant with my grandma and her twin sister just in time for them to get to America. My grandfather was named Emilio and my grandma was named Emily and I was named Emily.

She has always been Overjoyed that I was named after her. It was a big deal that the first granddaughter was named after her  I guess.  I have always been her favorite special to her and  there was  even a little conflict  because my father got to it first. Other than see how important it was to her growing up, I don't really understand why it was so important in the Spanish culture  but it always made her happy it always made me happy and it gave us a strong bond.

I started to wonder conversations over the years if she was actually born Emilia like after her father Emilio. her parents wanted to americanize her sister and her for things to be easier. None of her children can answer the question what was she truly named. My grandfather is a person that I would never ask  because  I don't think he would truly know.  It was so important to be Americanized  I could even see it being taken as far as her doing that on her wedding day. If he knew her name was actually the other he would insist she always went by the American anyway and would never tell me the truth. My grandfather is someone who for his own reasons was never let her have her Spanish Traditions teach her kids Spanish or anything like that.

I was always told I was her namesake by everyone in the family and it was said as a big deal. I asked her one time if she was named Emilia and she said her name is Emily and I asked her what about your birth certificate. I could tell she was very sad in answer the question but she just repeated her name was Emily. If her real name is Emilia  and I'm her namesake  I believe that the only way I actually could be that is too have the correct name not the modernized version. She never looks so sad as she did want to ask her that.

I have always been proud to be her namesake so if I discover it is actually Emilia would it be wrong of me to change it? Her and I have always had a special connection and she would love to be truly honored no matter what. I just feel strongly about being named properly. It's like her last Spanish tradition honor she has is having me as her namesake. If I end up doing that to be exactly like her is there anything about that that would be dishonoring to her? Is there any reason why I shouldn't do it.

I didn't ask her I just said I should be named exactly how she is and she never said another word. It was the first time I've ever seen her bothered by our names. I did ask her twin sister before she passed and all she would say is you have to talk to her. Both my parents said they would have named me the other if they knew that was a her true given name. Since tradition was pretty much killed away in that family and I can't seem to find much on the subject I'm hoping that I could get the right advice on what my name should be because I believe it should be 100% what hers is and it makes me sad she had to  get rid of it to fit it  but I understand it as well  because of the time. But she doesn't talk about those things. Nobody really knows, so if it's bad to change it and it would be dishonoring I would like to know that too.

She does not have much longer and it's important to me that it's correct especially since it's the last of anything she ever had of her Spanish heritage and family because everybody else is gone. If this is something you don't know I understand but I'm desperate at this point. Thank you for taking the time to at least read this and I look forward to any answer you may provide. We have all pretty much figured out it is her name but I'm trying to track down a copy of her actual birth certificate before I would do anything. 

Replies

1
November 13, 2017 10:54 AM

An honor name is really what you and the honoree make of it. Many people choose to name a child after someone's nickname, rather than their birth certificate name, because that's the name that feels the most connected to the honoree. It sounds like that is the case here--your grandmother feels that Emily IS her name, regardless of what might (or might not) have gone on a birth certificate.

If your grandmother's health will still allow it, then by all means, ask her if she wishes you had been named Emilia (and called Emily); if she says yes, you have your answer. On the other hand, if she says no, that she's happiest with your name as-is, then you also have your answer.

If your grandmother isn't well enough to participate in the discussion, then I would suggest leaving it alone right now. You know that she is happy that you are named Emily, and you don't know whether a change would upset her, so better to err on the side of caution. You can always change it later, if you do get confirmation that her birth name was Emilia and it would help you feel more connected to your grandmother to match that more exactly. In that case you would be doing it mainly for you, not to tell her, with faith that she knows how special your connection is regardless of names.

Good luck--it sounds like you have a lovely name connected to a lovely lady, either way.

2
November 13, 2017 12:21 PM

I confess that I didn't wade all the way past your wall of text, but I did get far enough to know that your angst is based on a false premise: that Emilia and Emily are different names.

They aren't.

They are plain and simply Spanish and English versions of the Latin name Aemilia, which is the feminine form of the Roman family name Aemilius. Masculine versions of the same name include Emil and Emilio. (Amelia has a different origin, but it is often conflated with Emilia/Emily.)

You were named after both of your grandparents, and it's a wonderful tradition which connects generations in a way that few other things can. Enjoy it, and thank your parents for giving you this gift of an honor name.

3
November 13, 2017 12:33 PM

I added paragraph breaks, which help a little with the giant block of text.

And while you're right that they're technically the same name, I do understand wanting to have the version that reflects the family's cultural origin -- especially when that culture was abandoned/forced out.

However, the name was given to honour the woman who sees herself as Emily, regardless of what was on her birth certificate. Do you want to honour her or do you want to honour the country she came from?

4
November 14, 2017 6:19 AM

There is a lot that remains unclear in your post, despite the length. Was your grandmother actually born in the US or in Spain? (this could affect what was put on the birth certificate) Was the losing/repression of her Spanish identity all down to your grandfather, or was it also important for her to conceive herself as mostly American? When you say she was "sad" when you questioned her name, do you think that is because she realized you don't really have the same name, or because she didn't like having her (American) identity questioned? Or because she is old and perhaps a little confused?

What is clear, though, is that she was thrilled you were named after her, and that it created a bond growing up. I would be hesitant to start meddling with that if you are not getting clear signals from her. If anything, I would just reinforce, at this late stage, how honoured you have always been to be named for her... reinforce the bond between PEOPLE, not between ideas/heritages.

Keep in mind that her relationship to her heritage may be more complex than you understand it as being from a 21st century perspective. I'm assuming her family arrived in the US between the 1920s and the 1940s... which were years of dictatorships, military coups, civil war and extreme repression in Spain, so it's possible that insisting on her "Spanishness" could actually be hurtful to her (you and your parents are in a better position to know this of course). 

And, as HNG said, Emily and Emilia (or maybe she was even Emiliana) are the same name (if she chose to see it that way, and not if it was imposed).