Write your full name–baby’s full name too, my aunt reminded me.
On the visitor log at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum I scratched out Susan Herman and wrote Susan Emily Hord Herman and Camilla Jane Herman. Camilla was 9 months old.
I’m Emily after my Great Grandma Dollar. Hord is my paternal name–and it was Melinda Hord Reaves, Dad’s sister, who had taken us to the Midland, Texas museum that day on our visit.
Herman is my married name. Also a great family to be part of, about which my uncle-in-law Jim Herman has written three volumes already.
Camilla is named after another great-grandmother of mine, Camilla Maree Butler Waldrop. I have a shingle from that Camilla’s Tennessee birthplace, framed, in my office. Jane is for Jane Truelove, on the Herman/Newton/Truelove side. And, as I learned on her birth day, she’s also Jane after my mom’s favorite cousin (actually first cousin once removed), not to mention every one of Mom’s childhood dolls.
Gives some gravitas to this little pipsqueak.
Aunt Melinda didn’t have to remind me of why the full name is important. If you eat our family soup often enough you develop a reflex that makes you say stuff like: Oh, you’re going to Raleigh? Well, stop in the state library if you get a chance. There are some more Butlers to look up.
Writing your full name anywhere–on a church pew registry, museum visitor log, class roster, triathlon registration–creates a trail of bread crumbs on paper or the internet, and that means there’s another record that can be searched. Twitter users and internet marketers are savvy to tagging and leveraging metadata to enhance that all-important “discoverability” factor. Of course you want to protect yourself from identity thieves and other baddies so I’m not advocating sprinkling about taxpayer IDs and financial information along with your name. But, within reason and when you get a chance, document it–you were there. Someone may thank you in the future.
God alone knows what geologic feature my ashes will overlay when I’m gone, but I know this: you won’t have to dig down to the Permian to find my record in the log at the Petroleum Museum.