I predicted this years ago. I always felt that at some time the topic of my surname would come up. And it has.
This last Christmas in Dubai my brother spontaneously started talking about my last name. He told me of a conversation he had with his son, Anton. He was explaining to Anton my background and why I had a different last name. Anton, in his grade school innocence said “Mulkey is a funny name. He should change it to ours”. My brother told him it was my decision and not an easy one at that. He then briefly asked me if I’d ever considered it. And that was the end.
Now, I know my brother. I know how he operates. He’s a Smooth Operator….er, sorry. But he is smooth. And he knows how to schmooze. He’s been in the upper echelons of the business world for decades. He knows how to get what he wants. And he tries to pull that with me. Usually, I just give in because I figure the oblique request is nothing important and I’m happy to accommodate (so who’s REALLY in control, eh?). Anyway, I began to think that this was the first step in convincing me to change my name.
I have to admit, it’s crossed my mind a number of times. My parents are gone. Most of the matriarchs and patriarchs in my family are gone. Giulio is now gone and my brother realizes that it would be less of an emotional burden for me to pursue this name change. My cousins are sophisticated enough to accept a name change. My friends, too.
Yet changing one’s name is fraught with perils. While I like to think of myself as open-minded and sophisticated, changing my name goes straight to my core. I’ve gone through my entire life with this name. It’s my identity, from childhood through adolescence, into college and adulthood and the professional world. It’s how everyone knows me.
I don’t know what my family in Italy would say. I feel quite confident that they would tell me that I’m one of them no matter what name I have. Yet, there is a draw to have their last name. Interestingly enough, that draw is greatest and it’s that draw that would cause me to turn the corner.
But I also think there might be something occurring with my brother. I’m the only family my brother has left. Sure, he has his son. But his son will be taking for a number of years before he begins to give. Energy will be expended on him. Adult relationships have something different to offer. Without me accepting my biological name, he’s alone.
He has our beloved family in Italy, sure. But they are the extended family. And, while they adore him and he loves them, the fact remains that I’m his brother, his only sibling. The only other person on earth who swims in the same gene pool. In his fifties and living alone in Dubai, I think that’s hitting him.
So, I put this out to the world–should I change my name to–Rapetti–? Please note that this is the surname I’ve used in the book to protect my family’s identity and, particularly, my brother’s. I don’t have a place to vote. But, if you read this, give me some feedback. I’m not saying that I will change my name if the majority thinks so. But I covet divergent opinions.