I could have reassumed my maiden name, but it felt awkward. Besides, it was my father’s name. It was time for me to become myself. . .whoever that was. I was 50. Yet I felt like I was at the beginning of my life. Who…what…would I like to grow into?
It was a rainy, wet February when I began to think about a new direction for my life–one that was less obsessive and more appreciative of being alive.
I spent a lot of time walking the trails at a local nature preserve. In the midst of 1400 acres of oak-hickory forest, I found that the trees soothed my mind, and the wide creek that ran along the trails made me happy. Its flood-swollen waters flowed steadily…bubbling, gurgling, and churning around fallen trees, rocks, and bends in the stream. The sound was so uplifting that, even if my mood was foul when I began my walk, I was practically skipping with joy at the end.
“That’s what I want to be!” I thought. “I want to be the sound emanating from the bubbling brook.”
My maiden name was German, as I’m mostly of German descent. But my mother’s side of the family had a bit of Irish blood. Embracing that heritage, I began looking for an Irish Gaelic word meaning “bubbling brook.” I found the word “coachan,” which is translated as a purling rill; a rippling stream, flowing over stones. I added the prefix “Mc,” which means “child of.”
I considered changing my first name, too. For this I found the word “sruth,” meaning “to flow,” which is what I wanted my life to do–to flow seamlessly.
“Sruth McCaochan” sounded quite fine and for a very short time–around the college where I worked, among my friends and select family members–I was Sruth McCaochan, a flowing child of a purling rill, in other words, a “bubbling brook.”
In the end, however, I retained my first name, which means “grace”–also something I aspired to grow into. I brought “Sruth” in as a second middle name. And so legally, at the end of that rainy February, I became Nancy Jo Sruth McCaochan.
It’s not a snap to say or to spell. But it IS something I’m growing into. More and more–I’m happy, and more and more I tend to laugh and appreciate life. And as I do–more and more–I’m able to help others feel the joy that I felt in the woods that rainy February.