dad from day one: Passing on the Family Name

Thirty-six weeks.

It wasn’t until this weekend while visiting my parents in Alabama that I fully realized something: When Baby Jack is born, he will be the only male Shell (beyond me) to pass on the name, unless I eventually have another son.  My mom was telling me how we will need to get a “generational picture” taken, including my grandfather (John Shell), my dad (Jack Shell), myself (Nick Shell), and Baby Jack.  My dad only has one brother (Johnny Shell) and he only had daughters.  And I have no brothers.  So Baby Jack will carry on the Shell name, which translates in German as “loud and noisy”.

While the namesake is just that, a name, it still carries on an idea of the people with that name.  Not only their bloodline and physical characteristics, but also a reputation of that name.  When I think of what the Shell name stands for, I think of my grandfather (who I call “Paw Paw Shell”), my Uncle Johnny, and of course, my dad, because they are the three male Shell’s most closely related to me.  They all work very hard, will do anything for the family, will not tolerate any b.s. or drama, are extremely down to Earth, have a passion for classic cars, prefer The History Channel over watching sports on TV, and will always choose the great outdoors over the city life because they all live in the wooded mountains (which is different than living out in the country, by the way).

Physically, male Shell’s are between 5’ 7” and 5’ 11” (no shorter, no taller), have dark brown or black hair, have a thin frame, have a fairly prominent nose (not noticeably huge, but never smaller than average), are known to show up at each other’s houses unannounced, and have a weak spot for Moon Pies.  For me, there is just something about being “a Shell” that is distinguished.  Not in a classy way like the Vanderbilt name, or Presidential like the Kennedy name, but it’s the idea that when you meet someone with the Shell name, you’ll never forget them.  Shell’s stand out from the crowd.  Not in a “loud and noisy” aspect like the name actually implies, but set apart in a sense that if you know one of us, you know all of us.  And really, that’s how I imagine most families are.

It’s in a man’s heart to want to pass on the family name.  Not just for the sake of legacy, but also because of pride.  And while pride is typically a bad thing, when it comes to family, pride is a necessary staple.  I am proud to be a Shell, and proud to bring another one into this world.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



4 thoughts on “dad from day one: Passing on the Family Name

  1. I have observed that it is deeply important for a man not only to pass his name on to an heir, but to his wife. Many woman don’t realize how significant it is to men that their wife take their last name when they are married. I was honored to take my husband’s name when we were married, because by his character he has made it a good name. 😉


  2. I don’t really like the idea of that sort of “pride” because in my family and all the family’s that have cared greatly about passing on the family name, it’s only caused drama, strife, disappointment and isolation. I come from a family where I have half-siblings from both sides and I’ve always felt like so much importance and pride was put into last names that no one was able to accept each other. My older half-brother was rejected by my Dad and the rest of my family, his last name was different and he simply “didn’t belong.” He was an outsider, and my little brother was the most vital child to my family. He would “carry on that last name”. It made him special and valued more than the rest of us, which is terrible thing for his pride and the rest of us kids’ self esteems.

    My Dad did one of those generational pictures too and of course my sister and me were excluded because we’d just get married off and change our last names, right? It was like we weren’t part of the family and we’re just excess baggage that would go away for a good in a couple decades. Well, now my sister is married, last-name changed of course, and pregnant. She’s expecting a girl and now there’s all this resentment towards the baby for not being able to carry on that family name (there are no grandsons born yet). It makes me sad to think that people care so much about names and pride that they set up all these barriers and restrictions for the people they are supposed to love. It’s essentially love with conditions, because I feel like a boy wouldn’t even be loved for being a sweet, little, joyful new addition. Just loved for being a tool to pass on some name that doesn’t mean as much as his relatives think it does, hah. It’s so antiquated and patriarchal to me; Because of how badly I’ve seen people treat it I have nothing but contempt and disinterest for last names. I’ve made an effort to care more about what really makes a family, not some silly surname that probably isn’t all that vital to this world. That is the love, respect and appreciation for each other.

    It’s sweet that you care so much your family’s history and name, and I’m glad you have something to be proud of. A lot of us don’t have that. But what if Jack was Jacqueline? Imagine how different this post would sound. =/.


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