What’s in a name?

My given name is Teresa Sarne. The first name, Teresa, is normal enough — I was named after my great-grandmother — but where in the world did Sarne come from?

Often the world over, the father is recognized by bestowing his surname upon his children. In Filipino culture, the mother is honored as well as the father. The mother’s maiden name is given to her children as their middle names. Sure enough, the maiden name of my Filipino mother, Lolita, is Sarne.

Even before my mother was pregnant with me, my mother knew instantly that she wanted to name me Teresa after her grandmother, Teresa Reyes Satsatin. At first, my mother wanted to name me either after her grandmother or her sister Lodivinia. Believing that Lodivinia as too long a name for me, Mom went with Teresa.

Mom asked my father whether to add an “h” in “Teresa.” She explained to him that if I were named “Theresa,” it wouldn’t matter because the family is in the United States (being that “Teresa” would be a more common spelling in the Philippines). My father decided that I should be named “Teresa.”

Teresa Reyes Satsatin died on June 19, 1982 — my parents’ second wedding anniversary.

“I think she is the greatest woman I have ever known,” Mom said about her late grandmother.

I think I have a beautiful name. I never thought of changing it, and even if I wanted to change it, I wouldn’t know to what other name. But of course, we all basically have to live with the names we’re given, one way or another. Can you imagine going through life with the name Facebook?

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