Teak, that is unusual. Why did you name him Teak? Where did the name Teak come from? Teak like the wood? Why did you name him a unique baby name? I have been asked these questions in some form or another throughout the last 6 plus years. Teak, I am afraid, will continue to have to answer this question well into his adulthood. My son, I am sorry, however, you are Teak, our Teak, and we cannot imagine you with any other name.
So, what is in a name? Names are so interesting, their origins and meanings. It’s safe to say I have somewhat of a fascination with different names and why people choose certain names for their children, businesses and heck even for their pets. It may be due to the fact that my name, Abigail, was given to me because I was born on my papa’s birthday and he always favored the name Abigail, it was his grandmother’s name who he loved very dearly. The name Abigail actually means Father’s Joy.
Before I ever became pregnant, I started a little baby name list. I simply titled it B Names. It wasn’t because we were trying necessarily, heck, our first child was a happy accident but when I heard a name or randomly thought of one then I would write it down.
So, in March of 2010, we took two tests (you know what kind) and the two infamous lines show up on each one. I remember the day so clearly. Then my papa passed away in April of 2010; my papa who I cherished and whose birthday I shared. Shortly before he died, I was able to visit him briefly and in that same visit to my grandparents’ house, I decided to go through some old family photo albums…remember those?
Well, I came across two separate family last names that caught my eye. Turner and Keaton. Turner was my grandmother’s maiden name and Keaton was somewhere on my grandfather’s side. I loved these names and I decided they would be great together. Done and done, or so I thought.
The day we went in for our 20 week ultrasound, the day we found out we were having a son was also the day that we found out our son had Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele (its a mouthful but it rolls off my tongue so easily now). In layman’s terms it meant his spinal cord and nerves formed outside of his body. He would possibly never walk, could develop hydrocephalus (aka fluid on the brain) and will have some form of Chiari malformation. As one can imagine hearing all of these unknown medical terms was a heavy load to bear that day. The day we found out how our lives would truly change forever.
After a few weeks went by then a month or so, we decided to name our son. Give a name to this special human being growing inside me, who would start off in this world with a potentially debilitating disability. Family, friends and even strangers all across the country were praying for his good health and healing. So I opened up my list and started reading names off to my husband. The names mentioned above combined, Turner Keaton, the ones that I secretly decided I wanted to name my son. Well, my husband was not as thrilled with the names as I was. So as I thought aloud, trying to convince my husband, I mentioned we could call him the initials, TK or better yet, maybe he could go by Teak. My husband looked at me and said, “I like Teak, just Teak.” Feeling as though I was on the losing end of this name discussion, I pull out the computer to do a quick search on the word Teak and here is what sealed the deal for both of us.
“Teak is valuable for both its elegance, its durability and is a very powerful wood. Teak has always been a prized material. The tree that Teak comes from, Tectona grandis, is native to Indonesia and can grow at substantial heights. Teak can retain its natural oils and its rubber even after being felled and processed. The oils and rubber protect the heart of the wood from invaders like fungi and parasites that can destroy other woods. The teak tree is made with strong wood that is able to handle all sorts of different conditions.”*
So that is why we decided to name our son Teak, an unusual, unique name for a child. It wasn’t for attention, it wasn’t to be like a celebrity, it wasn’t to be weird. There was true, significant meaning and purpose behind his name. And Teak has held up to his name. He is a strong and powerful child. He has shown his durability by surpassing all expectations when it comes to his journey with Spina Bifida. He walks, runs, jumps and is just now learning what the (warrior) scar on his back actually means.
*reference for teak meaning: article by Josh Clark of HowStuffWorks.com and teakwoodfurniture.blogspot