BG 165 – Name confusion

I suspect that I am the only Bea Graansma in the world.
And also the only Bregtje Graansma.

Bregtje is my baptismal name. But in my country of birth, the Netherlands, there are two kinds of official first names: your baptismal name(s) and your possible ‘call name’
A short summary of my birth announcement: ‘Born: Bregtje Graansma, we’ll call her Bea’. That’s how it was being solved.
In the 43 years that I lived in the Netherlands, I always used the first name Bea.
Only in very exceptional cases, those where I needed an extract from the population register, did I have to use my baptismal name.

I feel like a Bea. But the name Bregtje does remind me of the maternal grandmother I was named after and of whom I have no direct memories, because she died when I was just a toddler.

In Belgium, where I currently live, they do not know the Dutch concept of baptismal name + ‘call name’. Here they automatically use the name on my ID card: Bregtje. It often takes some time and effort to convince authorities and medical staff to start calling me Bea.

I once made a capital mistake concerning my own baptismal name: I was sent back the divorce papers that I had carefully filled out (and which would save me from my bad first marriage) because I had misspelled my own first name! Normally ‘Brechtje’ is spelled with ‘ch’ and not with a ‘g’ and that’s what I had done. I had used my baptismal name so little that I had forgotten its correct, but unusual, spelling.

Bea Graansma seems like an obvious name to me, but that’s because I’ve been using it all my life. Other people often have trouble with it.
You don’t often hear my surname, and my baptismal name and ‘call name’ are also not in lists of commonly used first names.

Also, in the Netherlands there are many first names in use that sound almost the same as Bea [bay-ah], such as Mea, Lea, Thea, Trea, Dea and Gea.
I was often referred to as Gea.
Even when I sent emails or letters to official authorities and signed them with my name, it happened several times that the answer started with ‘Dear Gea’.

And my last name also gets mixed up a lot.
In the Netherlands it was often corrupted into ‘Graafsma’, ‘Graanstra’ or ‘Granema’.
My husband has been lovingly calling me ‘Granemaatje’ (little Granema) ever since.
Here in Belgium they mix it up even more. Especially when I’m called up in hospital by a doctor or nurse.
Until recently, the most unusual variation – undoubtedly the result of a typical illegible doctor’s handwriting – was ‘Mrs Graansimani’.

But recently I heard a nice new example. In the crowded waiting room of my eye specialist (and her five colleagues) I heard her call ‘Mrs Bregsma?’.
I looked around with interest, because the name sounded Dutch and I wondered who would rise. Nobody did. The eye specialist called out again ‘Mrs Bregsma?’ and now looked at me kindly. Again no one stood up. When she called out ‘Mrs Bregsma?!’ for the third time, this time louder, and looked at me intently, I burst out laughing and said ‘if you mean me, I’m Mrs Graansma!’. She also laughed and said ‘oh yes of course, Mrs Bregtje Graansma, Bea, hahaa! Come on in!’

So yes, Bea Graanstra, Gea Graafsma, Bregtje Graansimani, Mrs Bregsma…, my name – Bea (Bregtje) Graansma – continues to cause confusion.