My name in English means “good listener.” In Hebrew, it means “heard by God.” It comes from the American nineteen-sixty TV show “Bewitched.” In Greek, my name means “flower.” It means to be proper and to never disobey. My name means to always be a leader. My name is the sunlight that kisses the ground.
It was my mother who named me. I remember sitting on her lap listening to how she and my father chose my name. They wanted an old English name and something that would be acceptable for a profession. Not only that, but they also wanted to nickname me.
My aunts and uncles gave me several nicknames, along with my parents. But, one of the fondest memories I have is with Uncle Sam and what our names really mean–not just the silly nicknames.
“Samantha,” my uncle said, “did you know that we share the same name?” We were in the Nana’s kitchen, finishing a game of Pony Girl.
“Yeah, I know,” I said in my simple four year old language.
“No, really, Samantha. Our name is the best. Do you want to know why?”
I wiggled my ears. “Yes,”
He went off for a few minutes about some famous guy named Uncle Sam (I reminded him that was his name too) and how he was on posters during some war that took place many years ago in the USA. After he stopped rambling, he said, “Come on, I want to show you something.”
I slide off of his lap and he took my little hand. He led me outside and we walked for an eternity.
“Are we there yet?” My legs ached from all of the walking. We had gone at least three blocks. For a four year old, it was like climbing Mountain Everest.
“Yes, we are.” Uncle Sammy had taken me to a neighborhood that looked identical to his.
I pointed to the house we were in front of and said, “That’s a pretty house.”
“That was my old house before we moved.” came his reply.
“That’s nice;” I said. “can we go now? I’m hungry.”
Uncle Sammy got down on his knee and put his finger on the sidewalk. “Look at this.”
S-A-M was written in the sidewalk. I stared at it for a moment and then said, “Is that why our name is the best?”
Uncle Sammy just smiled.
It’s been almost sixteen years since that day. I will never forget what my uncle whispered to me after I asked him why he showed me the sidewalk. “Always remember to be yourself.”