Because it’s my name

My parents stood behind the house. My mother’s waist-length hair was bound into a ponytail, but my father let his curls tumble down to the middle of his back. Dad looped a narrow arm around Mom’s shoulders.

Mom said, “If it’s a boy, we’ll call him Jesse Bishop, after my grandfathers.”

“What about a girl?”

“I want something beautiful. Something that shines like the sun and glitters like a jewel.” Mom gazed out over her garden.


“No. I also want it to be down to earth.” She looked harder at the garden.


“There’s only one Eartha Kitt.”

“What then?”

Mom beamed at the rows of beans, eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers.  She smiled at the neat green carrot tassels and the round cabbages. “Okrablossom.”


“Okrablossom Jubilee.” Mom strode to the middle of her patch to point out her most beloved bloom. “Okra has that bright sunny flower, and it grows out of the earth. And next year will be the Queen of England’s Silver Jubilee. Silver is too ostentatious, but nobody really associates ‘jubilee’ with hauteur.”

Dad breathed in the loamy air and looked up at the blue Ohio sky. “It’s perfect.”

Inside, the telephone rang. Dad jogged in and Mom followed a little more slowly. By the time she got there, laden with yellow squash, Dad was just hanging up. “Huh. That was my Dad,” he said. “He’s going to try to send us a couple of bucks. He really likes Jesse Bishop for a boy. But the other, not so much. He said…”

The phone rang again interrupting him. Mom handed Dad the vegetables and answered. Dad listened to her end of the conversation. “Hi Daddy! Thank you. That would really help.” She walked around the corner, wrapping herself in the cord as she moved. “Uh-huh. We picked out a name, too. Jesse Bishop for a boy, because Granddaddy Bradshaw was Jesse, and Big Daddy was Bishop, and… well of course for Bishop.” My mother’s only brother, also named for Big Daddy, had died in a fall a few years before. “And for a girl, Okrablossom Jubilee. Yes. Like the plant. Oh. When you put it that way … alright. I love you. I don’t want to run up your long distance bill.” She hung up. “Well,” she told Dad, “he really likes Jesse Bishop. But he’s not so keen about Okrablossom Jubilee. He said…” my parents’ eyes met.

Together, they finished, “I hope the kid can fight.”

“Funny. My Dad said the same thing.”

“You know, Jesse is pretty unisex.”  Mom took a squash from Dad’s arms and rinsed it at the sink.

“You’re right,” he said.  “It’s settled then. Jesse Bishop for a girl, Jesse Bishop for a boy.”

Mom removed the squash from the sink. “Let’s have some lunch to celebrate.” She began slicing the vegetable, starting with its tender head.

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About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Because it’s my name — 37 Comments

  1. Okrablossom Jubilee.

    The possibilities are endless. And also? ” Silver is too ostentatious, but nobody really associates ‘jubilee’ with hauteur.”

    That is amazing.
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  2. You had hippy parents? Okrablossom Jubilee? Can I call you Blossom or Jubilee from now on? You’re so lucky – you know how jealous I am of Jessie. I got Marie. Ta-daaa! My parents’ conversation was probably something like this:
    Doc – It’s a girl
    Mom – Again?
    Dad – A FOURTH daughter? How will I ever survive
    Mom – I can’t think of another girl’s name
    Dad – How about Marie
    Mom – But all our daughters already have Marie in their names
    Dad – Then it’s settled.

    At least at derby I get to be Marr Bulls.Nobody even knows my legal name.
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  3. Oh wow… you dodged a real bullet there. My mom was one of those people who had my name picked out for a decade before having kids. I moan about having an alternate spelling for my name (I have to spell it aloud every darn day), but am so glad it’s not a name living out in left field.
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  4. I think Jesse might be easier to live with, Okrablossom might have been a little too different at school. And my parents were going to call me Edward. They just didn’t have enough imagination obviously! 🙂
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  5. LOL! Awesome! Just think, if you didn’t have such pragmatic grandfathers you *totally* could have been “Okrablossom Jubilee Powell: medal contender in the inaugural year of OLympic women’s boxing.” This was great!

  6. I think this is my favorite post you’ve written!
    I love the voices that you gave your parents, and I LOVE the story! So very good.
    So does “saved by the bell” (or telephone ring) have special meaning to you now? 😉
    Super well written post. I love it.
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  7. Can I call you Okrablossom? Jesse fits you. I don’t really see you as an Okrablossom Jubilee. 😉

  8. Okrablossom! I’m still giggling over this one. It’s nice…ahem, but might have caused some strife in school.
    You gave your parents life in this piece. Great writing. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I love that you wrote out the event with all the imagined details, instead of just telling it in two matter-of-fact sentences the way your parents probably do. (Or is that just my parents? They’re both terrible storytellers. My mom’s summation of my birth was “It didn’t go very well.” Wha?)
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  10. Well, okra blossoms are gorgeous. Nobody in my family will eat okra and I plant some anyway just for the flowers. Wonderful story and a sweet portrait of a marriage.
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  11. I love this story. The way your parents contemplated your name was sweet, charming, and thoughtful. I was an OB resident for a time and I had a patient who wanted to name her daughter Chlamydia because she heard it so much during her pregnancy and thought it was beautiful. The whole labor and delivery staff fought her on that one. I had never seen us involved in a naming before, but that was too much for a child to be burdened with for life. The child still got a questionable name, but at least it wasn’t a disease.

    On another OB related note, one of my senior residents was named Jubilee because her parents tried for seven years to conceive a child. That was sweet too. Ellen

  12. It’s funny how names can be so polarizing for others (when it’s not really their business). But Jesse is great and so fitting for either sex and since that was the first choice name, it’s awesome you have it 🙂
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  13. I love your writing and this one is my favorite so far. This post paints a lovely portrait of your parent’s relationship – such a partnership! Great dialogue and details, Ms. OkieB. Keep ’em coming!
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  14. I love the name, Jessie! And so neat to hear the story behind the name you almost received. That would have been interesting, to say the least!
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  15. Before I was even pregnant, I told my mom I wanted to give my kids onomatopoetic names, like “Jingle Jangle.” She knew better than to argue with me. By the time I got pregnant, I was too tired to make a point with names.

    I love this window into the process of naming a child. Your parents sound awesome.
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  16. I’m dying to know if this is a true story – you have such a unique way of designing characters and conversations that I can’t always tell! Of course I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. My mother wanted to name me “Poppy.” Dad countered with “Asparagus.” I ended up with “Christine.” 🙂 (Got here from Studio30Plus – I missed this one the first time around!)
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    • Haha! Yes. I made up the scenario, but the basics are 100% fact. My parents really were a pair of hippies who wanted to name me Okrablossom Jubilee until my maternal and paternal grandfathers, who normally had little in common, both said, “I hope the kid can FIGHT.”

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