I never liked my last name. “Papke” reminded me of Pap Smear so every time I heard or saw my full name I just thought VAGINA. I was convinced everyone else made this connection, too, although I’m pretty sure they didn’t unless I pointed it out.
After my dad died, I grew to love my last name just because it was a piece of him. I never cared that people couldn’t say it. I got Parker, Papka, Pap, and other strange variations that made no sense over the course of my life, but it didn’t really bother me. It was a part of my dad I could carry around and keep close to me at all times.
I didn’t change my last name after Vi and I got married for a few reasons. Numbers one and two were money and laziness, followed by the fact that we really weren’t sure whose name we wanted to use. Our daughter ended up becoming a McKervey (Vi’s legal last name) mostly because we didn’t know what else to do at the time. For a while we thought we would just be the McKerveys since it was traditional and easy and would ultimately be the cheapest route.
Then we had a huge falling out with Vi’s family and we kind of realized we didn’t want anything to do with that last name. It had never felt right anyway, and Vi wanted to separate herself from the name, so she started going by my last name. We were the Papkes for a few years (not legally of course) and I enjoyed it, carrying on the legacy of my father since he had nobody to carry the name on for him other than me. But it still didn’t feel right.
That’s when Vi and I started playing with the idea of making up a whole new last name. Of starting our own family name to pass down for generations to come. It seemed right, what with how strange and unconventional our family had become, to completely forego all semblance of tradition. But what last name to choose?
For a while we thought we might become the Blacks, because our favorite color is black and it sounded good with our names. But then Vi transitioned and her new name didn’t sound as good, plus the name had no real meaning to us, so that eventually went out the window.
Then one day, we somehow came to the conclusion that we should be the Wildes. I don’t even remember how we reached this decision – it was fluid and organic, the way it came into being. It felt right. Violet and Vaela Wilde. We are the Wildes.
I love the fact that it means, well, wild, and also I love the sound of it and the way it looks and flows with our kids’ names. It also starts with a W which seems appropriate (double V). There is also the connotation with literature and whimsy that feels…correct.
It’s going to be expensive as fuck to change all our names, so for now we are still a strange mix of blended surnames. It’s kind of confusing when someone asks us what our last name is, or to fill in forms.
But in our hearts, and in our minds, we are the Wildes.