DEAR ABBY: We just found out that one of our sons changed his last name. What a terrible blow to our family. We found out very painfully when his wife had a baby. We went to the hospital to see the newest member of our family and couldn't find a "Mrs. Barry Nofzinger." However, there WAS a "Mrs. Barry Gibson."
Barry had used the name "Gibson" before, when he was in sales. He said it was much easier to remember than Nofzinger. He never indicated that he was considering changing his name. When he remarried two years ago, he still used the name Nofzinger. As far as we know, the name change occurred prior to our grandson's birth.
When we asked why, he told us his current wife (Barry was married before) didn't want to be the "second" Mrs. Nofzinger. The funny thing is, Barry's first wife remarried long before our son met or married his current wife. She has used her present husband's name for years.
Barry contends that we're making too much of this. He expects his relationship with us will remain as it has always been. In fact, he expects his son to have the same kind of relationship with us that we have with our other grandchildren.
We have been good parents, Abby. We have given our love and support unconditionally to all our children. I pray that I can continue doing that, but right now, I'm so full of anger, pain and shame that I wonder if it wouldn't be best if I told our son we would prefer never to see him again.
Barry's father is very hurt, and his brothers are also upset. He's unable to understand why we feel this way.
Perhaps someday I won't feel like I have been slapped in the face every time I see "Gibson" instead of "Nofzinger" after his name. Please help me to let go of my anger. -- SEEING RED IN OREGON
DEAR SEEING RED: William Shakespeare was right when he said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." It's no sin to change one's name -- and your son's having done so is no reflection upon how he feels about his siblings and you. You're making a mountain out of a molehill.
You say you're wondering if it wouldn't be best to tell your son you'd prefer never to see him again. Be careful what you wish for.