When President George Albert Smith was young, his deceased grandfather George A. Smith appeared to him in a dream and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” President Smith responded, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”
What’s in the name? My name is Kime Tuipulotu Lao. I was named after my maternal grandfather, the late Kime Tuipulotu Kinikini. I share his first & middle name. Because he was such a well known and well loved man, I am often mistakenly called Kime Kinikini by the older generation Tongans that knew my grandpa because the unique names are synonymous with each other.
The name Kime is very much a family name, in fact I’ve never heard of any other person or persons with that name except from my grandpa and the many relatives, such as myself, that were named after him. I’m not even sure where he got his name from, although I’ve always speculated he was named after an early Christian missionary that may have visited the friendly island kingdom of Tonga, from which he originates.
More times than I can count, upon hearing my name, strangers immediately knew my family history and genealogy, my parents, grandparents and from which village in Tongan each came from. It was amazing! I can remember riding the bus home in 3rd grade and walking home to my grandparent’s house during a snowstorm. A young Tongan woman pulls up to me, rolls her window down and asks my name. I politely tell her my name is Kime and she interrupts and says to me “Oh, Kime! I’m your aunty! Get in the car and I’ll drive you home! I know where your grandparents live! How are grandpa & grandma doing?” And without hesitation I get into a complete strangers vehicle, and luckily she takes me right to my grandparents house!
This exact scenario has played out many times in my life, and later as a young adult I would run into people who knew my grandpa and who’s lives had been touched so deeply by him, they continued to break down as they shared their connection and story with me, about my grandpa.
For this reason, I’ve always felt nameless. Not like a person without a name, but more of an individual blessed to call myself after my grandpa Kime, an amazing man. I felt that the name was still his, not mine. I am called Kime, but the name is still his. It’s like running outside of your house into a rainstorm, and you grab your father’s jacket to wear to protect you from the storm. Even if your father let’s you keep the jacket, and no matter how long you have the jacket, in your mind the jacket is always your father’s.
Likewise, my name has never really felt like my name. I have always felt privileged to bare my grandfather’s name. Like the modern day LDS prophet George Albert Smith, who had a dream that he met his grandfather, of the same name, hoped that he had made him proud of by his works and kept honor and dignity to his name, I too hope that when I meet my grandpa Kime again, I will be able to look him straight in the eye and say ‘Grandpa Kime, I’ve tried my best to uphold the honor and dignity of your name, by living a similar life of love and service.”
I hope that my son (who I named after my grandpa, Kime Kinikini Lao, and not myself) has similar experiences of strangers walking up to him, upon hearing his name, and say to him “Kime….I knew a Kime once, he was a very kind gentleman.” I hope that my Uncle Kime and my several cousins that bare the name Kime Kinikini feel the same responsibility that I have and choose to honor our grandfather’s name accordingly.
For this reason, I can remember taking great offense when others would intentionally mispronounce my name. It is an unusual name and very easy to confuse with many names more feminine like ‘Kim’ or ‘Kimmy’. Few things in this life could bring as much anger in my heart than to have someone purposefully make fun of my name, not because I feel like they’re making fun of me, but because I feel they are making fun of my grandfather’s name, who was a wonderful man! Of course they don’t know the weight that is tied behind the name, or the meaning or importance that I carry with it, which is the reason I can stay calm amidst other’s ignorance and lack or respect for a name.
As I began, what’s in the name? For some, it’s something that sounds nice, or pretty. For others it’s completely random, spur of the moment type of decision. For many it’s to commemorate an event like a sibling on a mission, or other momentous event going on during their life. For my little family, each name is tied to an individual that mean a lot to us. My older brother & grandpa Sateki, whom my oldest son is named after, my wife’s maternal grandmother Salote Lasini Wolfgramm who was battling cancer when my daughter was born and who’s name my daughter now shares, my grandpa Kime Kinikini, who my 2nd son is named after and my youngest son Heikoti, born when my youngest brother was serving his mission in Texas, the only missionary of us siblings. Everyone has different reasons behind the question, What’s in the name?