I have always loved my ancestors! I feel a connection and love for them because of the stories I have been told, the family history I have done, and especially talking to my parents, grandparents and other relatives. I feel so fortunate to be from such amazing people. My parents named their first son after my father. I liked that idea so when I got married, I wanted to name our first son after his father. My husband’s name was Joseph Richey Gibbons, but he went by his middle name, “Richey or Rich”. We named our son “Joseph” (after his father’s first name) and his middle name “Brian” (after my brother) who was on a mission at the time Joseph was born. We named our second son, Robert “Robbie” Lee after both of our fathers, Robert Holker and Lee Gibbons. When we knew our third child was going to be a girl, my husband and I talked and we agreed to name our daughter after my great grandmother, Annie Ostvig, because she was so special to me. (He actually agreed to the name “Anna” because his sister watched the movie “Annie” so much that he didn’t want to be reminded of the little red-headed girl in the movie!) We had planned on naming her “Anna Kristin”, in honor of our sister-in-law, Kristin Gibbons, who passed away several years earlier. However, my husband, who had been suffering with a brain tumor for almost two years, passed away 5 days before our daughter was born. I wanted her to always remember her father and keep a piece of his memory with her, so I changed her name to “Anna Richey”. I hope my children feel a connection to these special people every time they hear their names and feel the privilege of being named after incredible people.
Every time I read through the Book of Mormon, I LOVE coming to the scripture in Helaman 5:6-7. Helaman gave his sons, Nephi and Lehi, their names so they would remember the original Nephi and Lehi who were righteous men and great examples to follow. Here are the actual verses:
‘Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.
Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.”
This scripture in Helaman inspired me to come up with the concept of “My Namesakes”. I thought how cool it would be to put this scripture on a photo mat, along with a place (cut outs) for the photos of the person (or people) they are named after and have it hang on a wall in their home so that every time they walked by it they would remember the people they were named after. I hoped it would prompt these people to find out about them, to know them and love them because obviously their parents thought highly enough about these people to name their child after them. That’s the part of that scripture…”that [their namesakes] were good” and that THEY would have a desire to “do that which was good”…that I hoped would inspire them and their actions.
After “Namesakes”, I started noticing the word “name” in other scriptures. I came up with several other important events in a person’s life where a name is significant. I found scriptures for the following: Baptism, Family, Missionary, Wedding and Generations. Each of these categories has a relevant scripture, as well as photos, to remind us that we take upon different names throughout our lives and to remember those who represent these names.
I was so busy raising my children and taking care of our son Robbie, who was born with a heart defect, that I shelved this idea for years. I brought it out every once in a while, but never actually made up a photo mat for my kids or for anyone else. I was too busy being a full-time mom to devote the time and attention necessary. Now that we are empty-nesters, I have more time to devote (and finances thanks to my husband, Mike) to this project. Even though I had this idea over 25 years ago, I feel I have been inspired along the way to continue. I LOVE family history and knowing who I came from, so this is a perfect passion for me!! I believe in this idea with all my heart and I feel it is a worthy cause. To me, this is a great way of “turning the hearts of the children to their fathers”…by remembering them!