Names and Families

One of the things that’s come up during the wedding planning is the issue of names and name changes. I don’t particularly care if Sylvia changes her name or not because when it comes to last/family names, I don’t really have an authority as Riley wasn’t the name that my dad was born with. His biological father abandoned him and his sister and his mother went on to marry into the Riley family and have two more kids. It kind of sucks as I can’t fathom that it’s a situation that anyone would ever want to be in, especially in the 1950s, but you know what? I don’t think it’s ever been a point of contention or strife or anything. They’re all Riley’s, regardless of who they started out as. People go on and on about family and names and blood and lineage, but really when it comes down to it, I’m not a Riley by blood, I’m a Riley by family. Blood may be thicker than water, but family just so happens to be thicker than blood.

When I consider all of that history and the impact of it all, the issue of a family name, while important to many, just isn’t important to me. I don’t think of my family in terms of what name they go by, they’re all family regardless. My aunt Debbie married and changed her name, which is fine because, *gasp*, she’s still just as much of the family as she always was. She didn’t take a different name and become a different person because, really who does that? Same thing with my aunt Bunny. She’s Bunny, not Bunny Powers or Riley. Hell, the story of how she got her first name is far more hilarious (short version, she was born on Easter and my dad thought the Easter bunny brought her). I’m pretty sure that had either of them not taken the names of their husbands, the world would have still revolved around the sun and life would have continued to go on regardless. There might have been “talk” because we’re from the South and that’s what people like to do, but fundamentally things would have been the same. Everything would have been fine and I can’t stress that enough.

So, when the idea was thrown out there if Sylvia would take my name or not, I told her that it’s her decision and if she doesn’t want my name, that’s totally fine. I’m pretty sure that my ego can handle it. I’m pretty sure my family’s ego can handle it. I’m pretty sure that the universe as a whole can handle it just fine because we’ll still be Ryan and Sylvia at the end of the day. The family name really is just a label of where you come from, not necessarily where you’re going or who you are. Being a family isn’t bound by your family name, it’s bound by being a family.

First and middle names though? Those are a whole different story.


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