When I got married, the rabbi blessed my family members with Jewish names. I began the process of converting to Judaism through practice and classes, but I am not Jewish (I prefer to think of myself as a little Jew-ish). Nevertheless, our very progressive rabbi agreed to welcome myself and my family into the Jewish faith during our wedding ceremony. It was an honor to say the least. I was given the name Ariel. My mother and father were aptly named Abraham and Sarah. (This is how the lineage of Jews-by-Choice is often written.)
My father died when I was 7. I remember it vividly. While I didn't know him all that well, I feel like I got to know him as I grew up through family, friends, and a little psychic connection. I'm told I'm a lot like him.
Plenty of stories are passed around the table when his name (Gene Arthur) comes up. Sometimes folks are laughing at what a grumpy old coot he could be, but most of the time people reminisce about his Rennaisance Man-like life. He grew up the son of two Lebanese immigrants who came straight through Ellis Island. He took over his father's businesses, went bankrupt, and clawed his way out to become an extremely successful business man who provided for an entire family. He had a wine cellar to be reckoned with, he carved his own beef out of half a cow on the kitchen counter (much to my mother's dismay), and he had no trouble floating on a pool chair and enjoying a cold beer at the end of a long week. When my brother married an incredible woman and their son became the next to carry on the Salem name, I think my father was probably pleased. But when my brother went on to honor my father by naming his son Gene Arthur Salem, I think my father was probably overjoyed.
Two years after we married, my husband and I learned we would give birth to a baby boy. I immediately asked that we name him after my father. Knowing that our son would get David's surrname, I felt that Gene Arthur Salem Cohen would be a bit much. Besides, my brother took some of the pressure off; dad's name would live on in a brilliant young man already. And so, in homage to my father and with honor paid to my husband's lineage, our little boy inherited my father's Jewish name, Abraham.
(You can call him Abe.)