Herbietown - The Importance of Being Samuel Ernest

The Importance of Being Samuel Ernest

We named my 3rd son Samuel Ernest Herbert.

There is a special magic in choosing the name of your child. He’ll be stuck with his name for the rest of his life. You want to pick a strong name, and you want it to mean something. You want him to stand out from the crowd but not get beat up in school.

It’s a highly personal choice.

Leading up to his birth, we decided not to tell anyone about our potential names. There’s nothing to be gained. Either they hate the name you choose or they fall in love and then get disappointed if you don’t choose it. It’s a no-win situation.

But it’s also a lonely decision to make. Just you and your spouse.

With Jack and Charlie, we knew their names months in advance. They just felt right. Jack, we joked, was named after Jack Bauer from the Fox TV show 24. There are a few Jack’s in my family as well, I was told after the fact, but we really picked the name based on our love for it. Stanley, his middle name, is my wife’s father name. Some of my friends joked that I named my son after power tools, but that was OK by my me, considering how handy my father-in-law is.

We named our second child Charles Morrison. Charlie is my grandfather’s name. And my brother’s name. It’s just such a classic strong name. It was hard to say no to. Morrison is my wife’s father’s father’s name. We love the name Morrison. I think he went by Morrie, but I like the full name best. So Charlie was named after 2 of his grandparents.

When we found out child #3 was going to be another boy, we were at a loss for names. We had a perfect girl’s name picked out, which I still love and won’t reveal, just in case. But another boy’s name? Was this a cruel joke? How many times do we need to go through this?

The possibilities seemed endless. Patrick, Nicholas and Jonathan kept rising to the top. But we don’t love Pat or Nick, the short and likely nicknames. Choosing either Nicholas or Jonathan would have invited endless scorn from my 2 best friends from high school, who would have insisted they were the real father. Ha ha.

We also considered William, which is my mother-in-law’s father’s name. His birthday was also August 6, so that would have been a nice coincidence. It was hard to pass that one up, especially after all the selfless help that Greta’s Mom offered to us throughout the 3 months Greta was on bedrest. I will always remember that. Little Sam will always share that magical date with his great grandfather.

But when it came down to it, we decided that we didn’t love the name William, and we didn’t like the nicknames for it either – Bill or Will. Just a personal choice – no offense to anyone with those names (except you, Uncle Bill, you redneck!).

We went to the hospital with no idea what we’d call the little guy. It took us a good 18 hours after his birth to decide on a name.

We ultimately decided on Samuel. It is, of course, the real name for Mark Twain, a close personal friend of Greta’s father and fellow adventurer, from back in the day. It is also the name of the biggest bad-ass on planet earth, with apologies to Chuck Norris, Samuel L. Jackson. It’s perfect.

For a middle name, we went with Ernest. William was a strong candidate for a middle name too but there were too many “L’s” in there and we didn’t want his name to be a tongue twister. He’s already cursed with Herbert, a name I still struggle to pronounce correctly.

Ernest is the name of my favorite writer, Ernest Hemingway. It is also my father’s middle name, and my grandmother’s father’s name. I didn’t know him but I did enjoy keeping up the continuity.

I’m glad we were able to honor my father. He taught me a lot about being a man, about integrity, about the importance of reading the newspaper, about nerding out with personal finance software, about the importance of seeing things through, and about how to provide for your family.

Ultimately the boys will honor their ancestors – all their ancestors – with their actions, which are far more important than words. With the way they choose to live their lives. I only hope that we can teach them a fraction of what our parents taught us (and continue to teach us), so they can lead fulfilling lives in the spirit of those that came before.

The greatest author of all time?

Stan’s Long Lost Traveling Mate

Michael Ernest & Samuel Ernest