Shakespeare posed this question in “Romeo and Juliet”…”What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I think there is a lot to a name. I love names! I love the stories behind names! When someone has a new baby, my first question is “What’s his/her name?” and then “Why did you choose that name?”. We chose to go with family names or variations of family names with all our kids…Wilson Thomas, Maximilian Rixford, Olivia Johanna and now Clinton Rudolf. I LOVE our kids’ names…they don’t always appreciate the uniqueness of their names but I do because I know the stories behind their names and all the thought that went into choosing them. Rudy’s is no different…Clinton was my grandfather and Rudolf was Rolf’s great grandfather.
Rudolf was a painter and stained glass window maker in Austria…I am reminded of him every day as we have a few of his paintings in our home. One in particular is this huge painting of a knight talking with water nymphs and one day a few years ago, Rolf took it out of the crate we store it in (we’ve never had a wall in our house big enough to display it) to make sure it was storing well and Wilson, who was 5 or 6 at the time, came up to Rolf, studied the painting and said “Daddy, is that a good knight or a bad knight?” to which Rolf replied “Oh, he’s a good knight!” Wilson thought again for a minute and said, “Then why is he talking to naked ladies?” I don’t recall if Rolf had an answer to that one (Ha). Regardless of Wilson’s first impression of the knight or his painter, there is a rich, family history to the name.
Clinton was a farmer turned grocer in western Kansas. I didn’t know him personally because he died when I was just a baby but to this day I love my grandfather. In part because my grandmother and mom loved him alot and I trust their judgement and also because he made one simple comment about me that has encouraged me all my life. Shortly before he passed away, my mom and I made the trek from Chicago to Quinter, KS to help my grandma and see grandpa as he had suffered a couple of heart attacks and wasn’t well. As the story goes, my grandma left me playing on my grandpa’s lap for a minute and she left the room. While she was gone, my grandpa lifted me onto the floor and was down on all fours crawling along with me as he towered over me. When my grandma came back into the room she scolded Clint for being out of his chair – he was supposed to be resting! Ignoring her rebuke, he sat back on the floor and said “Aw, Babe, isn’t she the sweetest thing you ever did see?”. My grandma loved telling me that story and I loved hearing it. Now, I’ve had alot of love expressed to me over the years by alot of different people but for some reason whenever I felt down on myself or doubted myself in some way while growing up, my grandpa’s comment always came to mind. How wonderful it was to know there was someone out there who thought I was the sweetest thing he ever saw!!!!
In my book of baby names, Clinton means “honorable, just” and Rudolf means “resourceful, courageous”. Given the fight he has ahead, I think we picked the perfect names!