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The Words in Her Book – Part 5

The story isn’t as meaningful without telling the back-story to Matty’s name.

Matty’s parents had the most bizarre argument in naming their newborn. Her father, certain that they were about to have a boy, insisted on the name Chep. That’s right: C—H—E—P. Her mother, certain that she was about to have a little girl, was set on the name Madison… with a “D” in the middle, not a double “T”. But her mother was also equally passionate that no child of hers would ever be named Chep.

“Why Chep? Why, on Earth, Chep?!” she would implore.

“Because I like it. It’s unusual,” her father argued.

The argument never resolved anything between Mattison’s parents. The back and forth continued at least one evening per week throughout the pregnancy. Her mother’s counter argument that “the name Chep is unusual because it’s re-dic-ulous,” just made her husband smile. And that usually… eventually made his sweet wife smile back, shake her head, and walk away, still as in-love with this man as she ever was, sometimes calling him a dork before going to another room to thumb though a baby or parenting-related magazine.

Mattison’s father knew that if he ever divulged where he came up with the name Chep, the naming argument would be lost for certain (which is to say that in his way of thinking, he really believed his naming choice for a boy actually had a chance — in fact, there was no chance his wife would ever agree to a son named Chep).

The fall before Matty’s father met his future wife, he found himself at a conference just outside Washington, D.C. He arrived a day early to do some sightseeing and to adjust to the three-hour time difference from the west coast. The evening before the conference began, he went for a walk. When he returned to the hotel an hour or so later, he noticed the name “Chep” on the reader board in the lobby and he was instantly, inextricably enthralled with it. “Wow. How unusual and manly and… unusual. I like that name. It’s kinda like Shep, like Shepherd… but it’s Chep. Hmm.”

That his rationale for liking this name had about the same amount of logic as beer infused with caffeine was completely lost on him. Some things you just like, though the basis for the liking cannot be explained. Such was the case with Matty’s father’s love of the name Chep.  

The only problem (which was apparently no problem to Matty’s dad) was that Chep was not actually a name at all. The sign was showing the names of the other groups and organizations that also had meetings and conferences at the same time as the conference he would be attending for the next two days.

Clearly, the reader board indicated that the Chesapeake Higher Education Program was about providing higher education opportunities to disabled military veterans and is not anyone’s name, nor is it named after anyone. It’s just an abbreviation. Period. C-H-E-P. Chep. So, whenever Matty’s mother asked where he came up with that name and he just claimed that he had just always liked it, he was not being completely honest.

The name Chep was off the table when their little girl was born. As a token gesture, Matty’s mother lovingly suggested to her husband the peculiar spelling of the little girl’s name because both she and he did both like the name Matthew. Hence, Mattison with two “T’s” in the middle, instead of a “D”.

The spelling was clearly a loving concession. Both understood it to be exactly that, although Matty’s mother never said so. Neither did Matty’s father ever acknowledge it.

The morning after Matty was born, the couple shared a quiet moment in the hospital room between doctor and nurse visits and feedings. It was a quintessentially iconic picture of the mother holding the tiny sleeping bundle with the doting father looking on. Matty’s mother looked at her husband and quietly suggested, “How about Mattison. And How about if we spell it with ‘Matt’ in it; like M-A-T-T-I-S-O-N.”

Her husband tilted his head and his face flushed like he’d been paid the most generous, kind compliment. A tear gathered in the corner of one eye and he nodded. “Yes. I like that. Mattison is perfect.”

Hence a girl named Mattison, not a boy named Chep.                 

To be continued…


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Author Jim Aitkins

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