What’s In A Name

What’s In A Name

Change isn't always a good thing, sometimes it gives us a new life

What’s In A Name

By Anna Hessel


A New Beginning…

As one of my milestone birthdays quickly approaches, my thoughts have wandered to my birth.  I was privately adopted as a newborn by an older couple that were never meant to be parents.  Through DNA testing and the state of Pennsylvania finally opening original birth certificate availability to adoptees a few years ago, I have been blessed with finding my biological family.  So far I am in contact with two lovely sisters, a beautiful niece, and a couple of cousins and their families, one of whom has become one of my dearest friends.  She has encouraged me to reach out to my other siblings and maintains our family tree with the accuracy of a brain surgeon – a truly amazing lady.

Oh Yeah, I Blend…

My adopted family was abusive and ashamed of my multi racial ethnicities.  I, on the other hand, am thrilled to be an Irish, Italian, Hispanic, Iraqi Jewish Christian.  I was cheated out of growing up with sibling camaraderie and arguments, but I do have dear friends that have become my family.  My spouse and I are truly blessed.

Choose Carefully

When I was adopted, my birth name was changed.  This angered me; a name at birth should remain through a lifetime.  Hopefully parents will take this into account before choosing overly unusual names.  Names are special, and should be treated with reverence.  When we adopted our most recent lovable Puggle, we kept her beautiful name Sasha.  In Hebrew it means defender of mankind.  I will admit we changed our younger cat’s name from Nala to Brioche when we brought her home, to go with our older kitty’s name Latte.  Now Nala is now her middle cat name.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Confirmation Validation

I got to choose my own confirmation name, since I was confirmed into the Catholic Church as an adult, along with my husband.  I chose Veronica, after the very courageous woman that wiped the sweat from the face of Jesus as he carried his cross for the sake of humanity.  She could have been stoned by the men in the crowd but her compassion was greater than her fear.

When It’s Time To Change…

As I approach another of my certain age birthdays, I have chosen to continue to live life with my own unique style, even more so than before.  One of my rebel ways involves my birth name, which was changed upon my adoption, much to my disappointment and chagrin.  My biological mother named me after her, a fact I find endearing and touching.  I love my birth name, Catherine Marie Rees.  It has style.


Please don’t get me wrong, Anna is a very pretty name.  It has served me well but it is not the name I was given at birth.  I have friends named Anna and there are a lot of amazing women with the name.  The current Olympic gold medalist in figure skating is an Anna.  There is royalty named Anna.  Eleanor Roosevelt’s given name was actually Anna.  In Hebrew and Italian it means favor, beautiful, and grace.  It is derived from Hannah and Anastasia.

Han-Nah-Nah-Nah…Hey, Hey, Hey…

I actually used Hannah Sarah Khessel as my stage name when I reentered the pageant circuit as an adult.  I dropped it some years ago to use my married name.  It’s an amalgamation of two of my favorite Biblical names, my maiden, and married names.  The blessed Mother Virgin Mary’s own mother was an Anna.  Yes, it’s a lovely name but I was not born into it.  I was named for an impudent godmother and aunt after my adoption.

Lynne On Me

The new middle name given me was Lynne, named after Lynn, Massachusetts, the home of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement.  I consider this alleged religion to not be based in Christianity and certainly not Scientific.  My adopted mother was obsessed with their teachings but dabbled in all sorts of religious, and so called ‘spiritual’ realms.  I often questioned why my middle name contained an E on the end, not the spelling of the city for which I was named, and was told it was bumptious by my adopted family.  This perhaps confirms why they were not suitable parents.

School Daze

The insistence that I be referred to as Anna Lynne, never just Anna as a small child, gave me much discord in school.  I will leave Anna Lynne to the stunning and talented Anna Lynne McCord and be Cathy Marie, to honor the unpretentious woman the Lord chose to give me life.  I have many wonderful Cathy’s in my life, as friends and colleagues, one in particular, a very close friend that already calls me Cathy Marie.  I share the name with her mom, also.

Catherine The Greats

There are very many “great” Catherine’s: Aragon, Alexandra, Cathy (Guisewite), the beautiful singer Katy Perry, the very intelligent Katy Porter, the amazing Catherine Cortez Masto, and the Duchess of York, of course I am a huge Megan Markle fan but I certainly like Kate Middleton Windsor.  It is my understanding that my biological mom rocked the title of “Katy-mom”.  And what woman of a certain age didn’t have a Chatty Cathy doll?

Welcome Back…

I have made the decision and my husband supports it.  (He is even willing to hyphenate our last names.)  I need to discuss with my siblings the idea of legally changing my name back to my birth name.  I know I am in for expense and aggravation, changing not only my byline and explaining it to my readers but dealing with government agencies, medical records, and my banks to get it all switched.  It might seem a bit incredulous to do at my certain age but I pray my best days are yet to come.  Of course, many people will always think of me as Anna and may never get used to calling me Cathy.

Not At All Appealing

That’s just fine, as long as Anna is not, ever, in any way followed by banana.  I truly don’t know if anyone named Anna that finds this humorous, charming, or cute.  It is a source of bullying for children and as adults, it’s downright ridiculous. Does the kid in high school that accidentally passes gas because the cafeteria was serving mystery meat and bean burritos for lunch like the nickname Stinky?  I think not.  My last name is not banana.

Fruitless Appeal?

A recent acquaintance would simply call me banana, just banana.  We are no longer acquainted.  I remember attending an event one time where the woman at the registration table referred to me in the dreaded term of Anna Banana, I politely but firmly enlightened her that Anna’s don’t care for this terminology. Her response was, “Yeah, my daughter hates it too.”  I rest my case. Anna Banana Foofanna, is just wrong – don’t sing it.

A Fruit By Any Other Name Would Taste As Sweet

If I had grandchildren, Nana Anna, now that would be cute.  A banana is a fruit, not a name.  Now, I love me some organic bananas on my morning cereal and enjoy banana bread and pudding but I have no desire whatsoever to be referred to in this manner.  A baked banana boat stuffed with marshmallows and chocolate chips is rather yummy, of course, and who doesn’t love a banana split or Bananas Foster, but it’s food, not someone’s name.  The Banana Splits were a beloved Saturday morning show of our youth but never did I desire to be named after the program.


I love pierogies, spinach, crab cakes, lettuce, and chocolate mousse, also but I don’t want to be named after them.  Bananas are delicious for breakfast (sorry Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond) with milk and raisin bran, but I don’t want to be named Kellogg’s, Special K, granola, or oatmeal either.  My hippy name will never be Muesli.  Anna Banana sounds like an ominous stripper’s name.  Immortal playwright William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet teaches us, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.  But a banana is still a phallic fruit and calling someone Anna Banana actually stinks.

Fruit Basket

Please understand I think maybe Tangerine would be an interesting name.  I love the vintage teen book series with heroine nurse Cherry Adams but banana just does not have the same melodic ring to it.  Come on Anna’s of any age, stand firm with me here, no more Anna Banana.  Let’s start a Facebook support group, “Don’t call me Banana because my name is Anna”; sounds like a country Western song title.  Additionally, over the years, my name has also been called Annie, making me want to break out in song with my rendition of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun”.

Brandy Annaxander…

Perhaps this is a lesson to Trump supporting NRA loving women with too much makeup and rhinestone MAGA hats.  Many have referred to me as Anna and for some reason my father-in-law, much to my annoyance, pronounces it as “Onna”.  A pretty name, yes, but not mine.  Mine is Anna, soon to once again be Cathy, deal with it folks.  Have a nice banana brandy flambe in honor of my milestone birthday, pour me a brandy, and call me Cathy Marie.

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