happy namesake day, EC!

According to my Quirky Holiday Calendar which I made for EC, today is ‘Namesake Day’. Namesake Day “encourages you to explore the roots of your name, to find out if you were named after somebody, of something in particular, and to research and connect with people who share the same name as you”.


Not all of the quirky holidays in EC’s calendar are quirky; some are downright beautiful. Namesake Day is one such holiday. I am incredibly proud of and happy for EC and the man he has become. He is passionate, determined, intellegent, witty, sarcastic (not sure where he gets that from), loyal, is following his dreams, and remains true to himself always. Although I am sure that I have mentioned the reasons behind his given names in passing, I do not think that I ever took the time to sit down and really explain the meaning behind his names. Namesake Day provided the perfect opportunity to take that time and write him a letter.

It gives me great pleasure to share with you the letter I wrote to EC and placed in his March 6th quirky holiday bag. I hope it encourages you to explore your name or take a moment to explain to your child(ren) the reasons behind their names. It is, afterall, a gift of a lifetime.

“My dearest Ryan (EC),

 In honour of Namesake Day (March 6th), I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you the reasons behind your name and why your Dad and I chose to name you Ryan William Alphonse.

~ Ryan ~

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Ryan at 3 months

When I found out that I was expecting my first child, I knew immediately that I wanted to give him/her an Irish name. I have always been so proud of my O’Reilly surname and of my affinity to all things Irish; it seemed only natural to pass that on to my child. I had decided that if I had a son, I wanted to name him Ryan and, if I had a girl, I wanted to name her Cailin. I had always liked the names Ryan (meaning ‘little prince’) and Cailin (meaning an Irish ‘Colleen’). I loved how both names sounded and I felt that both names went very nicely with the surname Bradley. Thankfully, your Dad liked both names so we knew from the beginning what our first child’s first name would be.

~ William ~

Your Dad was beyond thrilled when you were born; he was so excited to have a son!Namesake Day 008

When I was almost out of my first trimester, I had a routine ultrasound. Little did I know how the results of that ultrasound would change our lives so quickly. Dr. Cross, our family doctor at the time, phoned to tell me that an ovarian cyst (the size of a grapefruit) had been found on my right ovary. He explained that if the cyst was to rupture, I would more than likely miscarry. He advised me to go directly to the Almonte General Hospital for a consult with an obstetrician. I was told to take an overnight bag with me because I would more than likely be admitted for an emergency surgery which I did end up having.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success and you were saved. After my recovery, the obstetrician told us that we had better be prepared ‘to love one child’ because it had been a miracle that I had gotten pregnant in the first place given that both ovaries and fallopian tubes were badly damaged. To say that your Dad and I were blessed with loving three miracle sons is an understatement. There are not enough words to describe the joy and gratitude we felt with each of your births.

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Liam (YC), Dylan (MC), Ryan (EC)

That’s when I knew that if I had a son, his middle name would be William after his father and, if I had a daughter, her middle name would be Anne, just like mine and Granny O’Reilly’s. If I was to have only one child, I wanted that child to have a special name connection to either his/her parent.

~ Alphonse ~

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Alphonse John Holly

While I realize that Alphonse is an incredibly old name and that as a third name it seems somewhat stuffy and perhaps even royal, it is a name that is very near and dear to my heart. As you know, my grandfather Holly’s first name was Alphonse. He was such a kind, gentle and loving man who had sparkling eyes, a shy smile and strawberry blonde hair. He loved his family dearly and, especially, the love he showered his grandchildren with was immeasurable.

Grandpa Holly was more of a father to me than my own father. While my dad was not around very much due to his paranoid schizophrenia, my grandpa was the one constant in my life that I could count on unconditionally. Being with him made me feel safe for I knew that his temperament was even and always kind. Every chance I got, I stayed with him on his and Grandma Holly’s farm in Cormac. It was there that I learned so many life lessons; I learned

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Grandpa and Me

about the importance of the seasons, how to be kind and respectful of animals, how to be patient with others, how the rewards of hard work are immense, and what it truly means to be compassionate. My memories of my time spent with him and on the farm are among my favourites.

Grandpa Holly was beyond excited when he heard that I was expecting. I, in turn, could not wait to share your life with him. I had no problem imagining you toddling along beside him. Sadly, that was not to be.

Weeks before you were born, Grandpa was admitted to the Ottawa Civic Hospital for a stomach aneurysm. He needed emergency surgery to keep the aneurysm from rupturing, a life threatening situation. Unfortunately, the surgery did not go well and he was transferred to the intensive care unit afterwards.  He stayed there until he passed on to his next life. He was only 72 years old when he died.

In an attempt to give my grandfather a reason to fight and to make him feel better, Grandma Holly told him that if I had a boy, I would be naming him Alphonse. Knowing how guarded my grandmother was, this was an incredible display of emotion and kindness. Although he could not speak at the time, he nodded his head ‘yes’ to let her know that he understood.

Grandpa lived long enough to hear that you were born. When he was told that I had had a son, he smiled, one of the few smiles he was able to give during his six week stay in the intensive care unit. He died six days after you were born. It was an incredibly bittersweet time in my life. On one hand, I was overjoyed by your birth, yet, I was incredibly sad to have lost such an influential and loving man in my life. When Grandma Holly first held you she said, “When one door closes, another one opens. We may have lost Fronse (her nickname for him) but we gained Ryan.”

Not often had I ever heard Grandma Holly express her true feelings in such a positive light; those words are forever etched on my heart. And she was right. While I did lose a beloved man at that time, I gained a heaven sent son who reminds me of what a blessing it is to be his mother. It is my hope that someday you will come to embrace your third name as not only a part of your heritage but as a connection to a man that I am incredibly proud to have had in my life just as I am incredibly proud to have you in my life. If ever you need a reminder from where it is you come from, just look in the mirror. Your red beard, sparkling eyes, and gentle mannerisms prove that you are a direct descendant of that sweet, kind, gentle strawberry blonde haired man.

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All my love, Mom xoxo









    1. My son really appreciated my letter and said that it is wonderful to have the story in writing. He also mentioned that his girlfriend keeps referring to him as her “gentle strawberry blonde haired man”. 😉

  1. What a great idea! My sons are both named after mountains, which they know, but we’ve never really talked about why we’ve named them that way. I love the idea of a letter, something they can keep. A lovely sentiment–and great post!

    1. Thank you! My son loved it and told me how sweet it was to have the story written down for him. His girlfriend now calls him her “gentle strawberry blonde haired man”. 😉

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