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I don’t even know my last name


We have all done a thing or two in life we regret. When we are young, we might not realize these regrets until later in life but, as adults, we often realize them a lot sooner. Unfortunately for us, many times it is too late.
I have one big regret in life and it might be one most people wouldn’t guess. I regret changing my name. Not once, but twice.
You see, I entered the world as Danielle Anne-Marie Vandepoele. With eight letters in my first name, a hyphenated double middle name and a 10 letter last name, it was already a mouthful at 28 characters. But, it was one that I held with pride as my middle name was a combination of my mother and my grandmothers’ middle names.
But, my biological parents parted ways and a few short years later my mom married my step-dad and he was willing to be everything my father was not. He ended up legally adopting me and I was more than happy to take his last name. But, when the papers were signed, my original last name was kept as a sort of middle name. I was now legally Danielle Anne-Marie Vandepoele Gordon. Yes, we are now up to 34 characters.
It didn’t much affect me as the years went on. I almost never had to use my former last name on documents so, it seemed, I had actually benefitted by dropping a few letters. But then, I got married.
After the dust settled on the ceremony, I headed down to the local registry office to make things even more official. I was going to finally ditch the unused Vandepoele but I wanted to pay tribute to the family that made me their own by keeping the Gordon. The solution was, of course, to hyphenate but only use Broome as a last name in everyday life.
When I got down to the registry office I was happy to learn it would not cost me a dime to change to my newly decided married name BUT ditching the Vandepoele, that would cost me more than $300. I will admit that I was a broke newlywed and the idea of forking out that amount of money just for a stupid change did not go over well. So, I became Danielle Anne-Marie Vandepoele Gordon-Broome. Yup, count them. That’s now 41 characters. The real shocker was when I got my first official document in the mail, my driver’s licence, and my name was two lines long.
Undeterred, I stuck with my plan of only using Broome as a last name but only a short two months later my husband and I moved home to the Valley and my new employer welcomed me with an email all set up with my new fully hyphenated last name. Professionally, this continued while in my personal life I used a combination. Sometimes I was Broome, sometimes I was Gordon-Broome and sometimes things were still in my maiden name of Gordon. Talk about a mess.
Here’s how a typical conversation with any sort of agent looking to access my accounts would go:
“Ma’am what is your last name?”
“I don’t know. I mean I’m not sure what it’s under. Try Broome... No? Gordon... No? Gordon-Broo... Can we just use my phone number?”
“Try my home number... No? How about my cell phone number... No? Maybe it’s still under one of my Alberta numbers... Try my home number...” And, so on, it would continue.
I’m not kidding you. Every. Single. Time.
I’m also not going to lie to you and say I’ve now gotten it all straightened out nearly 10 years later. I still don’t know what name the majority of my accounts are under but I did come to appreciate the hyphenated last name when I started my current job. When contacting people by phone, if they didn’t recognize me by the newest portion of my last name, they often did from the maiden portion that preceded it. So, for my unknown foresight on that, I am grateful.
As for the Vandepoele. It’s still buried there, only to be brought up on my driver’s licence and passports. If anything, 41 characters makes for an interesting conversation starter when going through customs or when I get my ID checked at the liquor store. Afterall, not everyone can boast one first name, two middle names and three last names.