A neighbor kid is mowing the yard next door. He’s saving up for a car, so he mows that yard maybe more often than it really needs. His name is Hoke.
I wonder what kind of conversations his parents had about names. Maybe it’s a family name. If we’d had a boy, I don’t know what we would have called him. We never got that far.
I stand on the patio watching my dogs run around and consider the folly of how My Guy and I would discuss the benefits of boys versus girls. Would a boy be easier? One of each? As if we had a say in any of it.
I realize that damn creeping charlie is coming back under the tree at the back of the yard.
Maybe we would have named a son Wilson. It’s a hip-ish name like Hoke, except it really is a family name. It was my grandma’s maiden name. We could have named a boy after her, not her bastard of a father. He burned down his own son’s house and did unspeakable things to one of his daughters. His acts only came to light when she was in the throes of dementia, when she relived that horror in her broken mind.
We would not name a child after him. We do not claim him.
We would have been better parents. That bar is admittedly low.
It’s not a deep and painful thing anymore. It just kind of is. It’s confusing, and it changes shape. But it’s lost its barbs, its spiny hurts.
Older women know things. They have experiences they carry in their pockets, like rocks smoothed from wear. Perhaps I am among their ranks, ruefully carrying rocks but not showing them. Not throwing them, either. Usually. Unless absolutely warranted. Unless unmoored.
I trek across the yard to pull tendrils of creeping charlie out of the landscaping. It always leaves a sticky stink on my hands, but I am diligent, nurturing my little corner of the world.
Oh, Becky, this is a stunningly beautiful, painful, honest piece of writing. Utterly moving in its simplicity and directness. The image of rocks in your pocket—inspired and haunting. My rocks are different, but I have a pocketful as well. You are an amazing writer and a powerful woman, with such heart.
First, I love you and your writing.
Second, wasn’t Morgan Freeman’s character name in Driving Miss Daisy, Hoke?
Oh Becky. It may have ‘lost its barbs’ for you, but I ache for you every time it is mentioned – and even when it is not. I feel pompous and patronizing as a mom trying to offer empathy to your devastating situation. I am confident that you would have been amazing parents. So sorry that parenthood did not happen for you. Your sense of humor is just the thing to aid in parenthood as far as I am concerned it is the key to good parenting. Sigh.
As far as names go, Hoke is out there in my estimation. My guess is it invites some teasing in the ‘Do-the-Hokey-Pokey’ arena, but maybe it was just a cool name. We considered naming a kid after my grandma’s maiden name. Murphy. Coach felt that would be more suitable for a dog though.
The comparison between the weed and your thoughts about children is really thought-provoking.
And your instincts about naming children are spot on.
Thank you for continuing to write about this and so many other things. This similarly situated 40-something, childless-not-by-choice lady is grateful for writers like you who give me an opportunity to revisit the rocks in my pocket and contemplate how I and they have changed over the years. As for the creeping charlie that has taken over much of my front yard, I have embraced it and decided to love the little purple flowers in the springtime. There is beauty even in the weeds – if only my neighbors agreed!