My wife's sister has weathered a horrific turn of events in her marriage over the course of the last 6 months which has left her doing the lion-share of holding her children together as well as herself. Just seeing the collateral damage of a broken marriage firsthand was sobering.
I think the thing that just tore me up was walking up the sidewalk toward their front steps and seeing "The Terpstra's" chiseled into a rock off the left side of the entry way. I don't know why, but it just didn't sit right inside me.
How can a man court a woman, take her from her father & mother & sister & brother, ask her to take on his name, and then leave her? She is now Angela "Terpstra" and her children are "Terpstra's". Her home is covered with pictures and memorabilia with that mark of identity written on checks and documents and household furnishings, and the one who asked everyone to take on his name isn't even there. They are left with his name--in many ways bound to it--and he is off spending the holidays with another woman living another life. Something is wrong with this picture.
How dare a man invite a woman into a life whereby she leaves her name behind and assumes his identity as her own only to strand her with an "empty word"? It's not a name anymore, it's a word. I remember hearing someone say, "Your name is all you have." It is your honor, your mark of truth and trust. When you lose your name, you lose everything. All you are left with is a word, an empty, sad, vacuous collection of letters.
It's not just the woman either, the children bear that name as well. They have to sign it on their school papers and say it when called upon in class. They have to see it on the back of their uniforms when they head out on the field and hear it spoken over the loud speakers after they make a tackle on Friday night. The boys will meet someone someday and pass that name along to her. The power of a name is everlasting, you can't just move on and assume another name if you're a son. That's with you for life. There's no getting away from that name, that backstory. It's part of your heritage, your hermitage.
I watched my nephews and my niece wrestle between innocent childhood and premature adulthood in unpredictable waves of rest & restlessness. One moment they would be lost in joy and the next minute their eyes would be sunken in with sorrow. One minute they would be laughing from their gut and the next minute they would be in their room crying from the absence of their father. It was forcing them to endure something they didn't have the scaffolding to emotionally support. What do you do with that?
This name loomed over us the whole weekend. This name was attached to everything touched and talked about. This name is forever etched into our hearts like that welcome rock next to the front porch. It reminds you of days gone by and days yet to come. It taunts you to anger and haunts you with sorrow. It won't leave you be, letting you get on with the beauty of life because, for now, it's the most present/absent thing about reality.
So I'll say it again, if you're a man and you ask a woman to leave her name and take on yours, if you plan on asking her to leave everything she's ever known to come under the banner of your identity, if you want to create offspring that forever are stamped with your signature for the remainder of their days, and if you want to etch your "John Hancock" in the immovable rock of your family's heart, please understand the gravity of your every move, your every motivation, your every moment. All those under your name are counting on your nobility. Their reputation is bound to your next decision. Clave to your character.
When a name becomes a byword, you're never closer to hell in this life.