Tonight my wife asked me if I would change my name if I found out we were definitely related to Elmers. For a lot of people, I think this is a very serious issue. I’ve known people who have done just that. I haven’t asked them about their motives, but my guess would be that they always felt different and wanted to put things right. Maybe they grew up hearing about the mystery of a relative’s paternity and solved the puzzle. I’m sure the reasons to do it are many.
I do not plan to do that. I am a Thompson. I can’t really see myself being something else at this point. Maybe because of autosomal DNA and having that reminder of how important moms are, even though they give up their last names, or maybe because I have my own children, it seems less important to me. There isn’t really anything for me to fix, just things for me to learn.
Depending on how close the crossover is, it may be supremely interesting to figure out where a missing branch of my genetic family is today. Really, even if it were my grandfather, I can’t see myself changing. My family has assigned meaning to our name. We feel unique in our huge crowd of Thompsons. We have a way of being that identifies us and we’ve used our name to identify it. I don’t think I could give that up.
Thompson is a name people picked when they wanted to fit in. I told my wife tonight that maybe it’s a name that picks you. I owe the Thompsons something for making this life possible. I intend to honor our odd little branch of this giant sequoia in the world of names.
We may not be Thompsons from the beginning of the use of surnames which is a loss. On the other hand, since my father is named Thomas, I am every bit as qualified to wear this name as the very first Thompson to crawl out of a bog a thousand years ago.