My first name, Pamella, is spelled with two l’s. The normal spelling, Pamela, is where my mom started when planning to name me, her first child. She liked the name for its romantic connotations, she said. She thought it was a name in a novel. But why did she decide to misspell it and cause me trouble for the rest of my life?

In our family, we tended to call close family friends “Aunt so-and-so” or “Uncle so-and-so.” Three of these “aunts” were named “Ella,” a popular name around the turn of the 20th century, and making a resurgence today. They were Aunt Ella Jenkins, who owned a bank; Aunt Ella McLeod, who had grandkids we played with; and Aunt Ella Richardson, who let us play in the back yard with her corset stays. (Bend those suckers back and let them go—BOINNNGG!—across the yard).

I am not sure how all three aunts felt about this tribute, but Aunt Ella Jenkins left me enough money to go to college. If the spelling triggered her generosity, then it is worth it to go on spelling out my name for folks. God bless you, Aunt Ellas, all. And thanks for the weird spelling, Mama.

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