My namesake discovered 42 years later

My daughter’s name is Clara Susan.

Her first name comes from the protagonist in The Van Gogh Café by Cynthia Rylant. My wife loves that book, and it’s where she fell in love with the name for the first time. 

Her middle name was my mother’s first name.


My son’s name is Charles Wallace.

His name comes from the character by the same name in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. We both loved that book as children.

We are also fond of the poet Wallace Stevens, which helped cinch the deal.


My name is Matthew John.

Yesterday I learned that I was named after my father’s platoon leader in Vietnam. According to Dad, my namesake was a man “who was fair and honest, and the kind of guy who never tried to pull rank.”

My middle name was chosen because my parents felt that it went nicely with Matthew.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn this. Up until yesterday, I was under the impression that my name was chosen simply because my parents liked it. I had no idea that I had been named after another person. 

It’s a shame that it took me 42 years to learn this fact.

If you’ve been named for a person or even a fictional character, you should probably be told this much earlier in life. Don’t you think?

As with most things, my family does things a little differently.