My grandfather (and my best friend) just passed away. I would really like to honor him in the naming of our child, but there are some complications. His name was Nils Paul Johnson Sr. Unfortunately Nils is reserved for my brother's future son (the 9th with this name in our family). My husband and I don't like Paul or any variations that we can think of (ie: Paulina, Pauline, etc.). There are three Johns in my husband's family and it just doesn't feel like using John would be directly after Grandpa. A little more about Grandpa: he was a Court of Appeals Judge, a devout Christian, gardener, and family man. We have talked about using the name "Judge" which I adore. Grandpa's friends always called him Judge as if that was his first name. Hubby likes our previous choice better.
Prior to this we had settled on a boy name: Remington "Remmy" Walker. Hubby is dead set on it. Grandpa didn't like it. While he would definitely want me to use a name that I loved, it's just bothering me.
We cannot agree on a girls' name but enjoy the following: Violet, Scarlett, Penelope, Matilda, Piper, Harper, Leighton and Emerson.
To summarize we like names that are traditional in spelling and easy to read. We will not find out what we are having. I'm due October 19. Our last name is Phillips.
Any of your thoughts would really help.
If you have a boy, I suggest naming him Nils. Names are not one-time-use items or even one-time-per-generation items, and the minor confusion caused by a duplicate, even in a close family that gets together often, is not worth abandoning an entire name to avoid---especially when you have strong reasons for wanting to use it. And am I understanding that the person the name Nils is reserved for is only hypothetical at this point---that is, your brother is not currently expecting a son? He might not even have a boy, in which case it would be even sadder to have not used the name. You could talk to him first about it, explaining your reasons for wanting to use the name and making sure it won't cause a huge feud.
On the other hand, are we not talking about just one duplicate? I'm thinking of the part where your grandpa was Sr. but your brother's son would be the ninth Nils. It seems like this argues even more strongly for the idea that the name is not reserved for your brother's exclusive use---but perhaps it means there are already several children named Nils at family gatherings, in which case we're not talking about the minor inconvenience of a single duplicate. (And yet, in that case---what's one more?)
Perhaps you could use Nils as the middle name: this shouldn't step on any naming-tradition toes, and it matters less whether you and your husband love the name. You can make the namesake more obvious and honor-y by using two middle names, such as Remington Nils Paul Phillips, or Remington Nils Johnson Phillips.
I see what you mean about Remington, but I hope you will not in the end be unduly influenced by whether your grandfather would have liked a name. Previous generations are CLASSIC in their dislike of the current generation's naming practices---just as the current generation looks back on many of the names used by the previous generation or two and says "Ick." If your grandfather were alive, it would be pleasing to find a name he might like---but my assumptions about the afterlife include the idea that not liking a baby's name is one of the lesser concerns, and might even be the sort of thing where a person would think "Why did I even express opinions on such things? What does it matter?" (Swistle Baby Names NEW AND IMPROVED: now with speculations about post-death baby-naming issues!)
For a girl, Nilsa would be very pretty, and might not have the "reserved for brother's use" issues. One small downside is that with the surname Phillips it makes me think of the singing group Wilson Phillips---but they're probably not going to be on our kids' generation's radar, and it's only a similar SOUND anyway, not like actually naming the child Wilson.
Judge is adorable on a little boy, but, like the name Doctor, seems like it would be a headache for an adult. I'm imagining a doctor named Dr. Judge Phillips, or a lawyer named Judge Phillips, or a judge named Judge Judge Phillips. I think that name only works when it's given as a nickname to someone who is already a judge.
If you don't want to use Nils or Nilsa or any version of Paul or Johnson, it may be time to resign yourself to the idea that it doesn't always work to honor someone special with a namesake. It's a heartbreak, but sometimes there's just no way to do it---and reaching further and further for possible connections can leave you with a name you don't really like AND that doesn't really honor the namesake. There is a boy's name Gardner, and of course there's the name Christian, or the name Court/Cort, or you could start reaching back to your grandfather's mother's maiden name or his siblings' names, or the name Nils is related to the name Nicholas, or Judd is similar to Judge---but do any of those seem like they'd be named for your grandfather?
Even though a namesake is a wonderful way to honor someone we love, it's only one of many ways. A printed photo book of all the photos of your grandfather. Framed pictures of him in the baby's nursery or around the house. Writing down all the memories you have of your grandfather, and telling your babies the stories. A small landscaped area in the yard with a few of your grandfather's favorite plants and a sign "Grandpa's Garden." Some areas do fundraisers by charging a certain amount of money to carve anything you want (such as a name and dates) into a brick, that is then used as part of a pathway.
Name update! Molly writes:
Just writing you to tell you that my husband and I welcomed a baby boy in October. You (and your readers) helped us to go with our guts and stick to our original baby name choice- despite the fact that I was desperately missing my grandfather who had recently passed away. I would like to present to you, Remington Walker Phillips. We have embraced the nickname Remy at present, though will support him if he ever wants to grow out of it. Thank you so much for your help. We definitely do not regret our decision.