My middle name is Jean. When I was really little, this made me very upset because I didn’t understand why my mom named me after a pair of pants. She actually named me after my grandma — my biological father’s mom. Despite having spotty contact with him over the years, I had a much closer relationship with her when I was growing up.
We’d visit and call and she’d send us birthday presents. I remember writing letters to her in crayon. My grandparents on my mom’s side have seemingly thousands of grandchildren, so for some reason, as a kid, I was always proud of being her oldest grandchild. It made me feel special. She and my biological father came to my high school graduation and I was sure, even then, that she dragged him along. She was always trying to compensate for his lack of parenting.
I remember in college, she was living in Paso Robles and my boyfriend was going to scool at Cal State San Luis Obispo, so I would drop by and see her. She was living in a retirement home then.
I don’t know when it was that I gave up on my biological father — when I decided that his relationship to me was simply that we were both people living on the same planet. But I do know when I knew for sure that he’d have no second chance with me, when my apathy turned into something else and my heart turned cold.
I was living in Dallas. My grandma had moved to be near him in Oklahoma. Unlike now, he knew where I was, and exactly like now, it was fine that he didn’t seek me out, until one day. He called my mom to tell her that my grandma had died. She had been in the hospital for a week. I had been a two hour drive away. And he never even thought to contact me so I could see her one last time. So she would know I cared. I was devastated. I really don’t think about my biological father anymore, but when I think about that day, I’m still mad at him.
With all that history, you’d think I’d like my middle name a little more, but I think I always felt a little odd, having my name associated with the side of the family that wasn’t really part of our family, that I was always a little confused about. I didn’t go by my biological father’s last name growing up, so having this middle name bond was awkward. Those awkward years are long passed now (although I still don’t use that last name). And although I don’t use my middle name much, I do sneak in the initial every so often.