A Memorial Tribute to Blaire Irwin Emerson
By Sarah Linke Mezzini
Blaire Irwin Emerson, better known here as Rowangreeneyes, joined Nameberry not long after the birth of her daughter, Rowan Jane, in 2011. As a self-confessed name nerd, she was keen on finding names for her future second child. She loved many different types of names, particularly boys’ names on girls, which she became famous for within the Nameberry community. Her other loves included international names (particularly Welsh), nature names, Southern names and word names. At the time of her passing, she was 35 weeks pregnant with her second child. In remembrance of Blaire, here are some of her favourites.
ROWAN – Blaire loved her daughter’s name and, as she once said, “I love Rowan’s name for so many reasons, but one of them is because my eighty-eight-year-old Southern aristocratic grandmother, with her lilting Charleston accent, approved of it and said it was a perfect name for ‘a strong Southern lady’.” Blaire was from Asheville, North Carolina, and raised in Tennessee. As she once said: “I am from the South and I have always been slightly obsessed with all things Southern. And I’m not talking Larry the Cable Guy or anything from the “modern” South. I’m talking ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’, live oaks, Mark Twain, balmy Southern nights, fireflies, sweet tea…” Rowan is, of course, a nature name and a surname name, as well as a gender-bending appellation, which was the perfect choice for Blaire’s daughter.
JANE – Although Blaire loved masculine names for girls, she preferred her combinations balanced by more feminine middles. Her daughter’s name is a perfect example – boyish Rowan paired with the traditionally feminine Jane. Other feminine names she loved for middles included Cora, Cordelia, Eleanor, Faye, Florence, Frances and Ruby.
ADERYN/AVEN – Aderyn is a Welsh name meaning ‘bird’. Blaire adored Welsh names and liked that they honoured her Welsh-born great-grandmother. However, she worried that Aderyn seemed made up and trendy although it’s a legitimate name. Another of her favourites was Aven. This name means ‘bird’ as well and Blaire loved its nature connection and its simplicity.
EILONWY – This was a guilty pleasure name for Blaire. It’s a made-up name (coined by author Lloyd Alexander for his children’s book series The Chronicles of Prydain’) and incorporates Welsh naming elements. Her numerous other Welsh favourites included Alys, Arwen, Carys, Celyn, Cerys, Ceridwen and Eirlys. Of Eilonwy, she once asked on Nameberry: “Does anyone have a name they’ve always loved, but think it’s not usable because it’s too ‘out there’? Mine is Eilonwy.”
MORGAN – Morgan was yet another Welsh favourite. This time gender-bending in the opposite direction, Blaire loved this name for a boy. Blaire liked many international names, but was unsure about them translating in America. Some of her favourite (non-Welsh) international names included Arman, Darius, Diego, Javier, Matteo, Vittorio and Wilhelm.
AUGUST – August is a perfect example of Blaire’s affinity with boys’ names for girls. She rejected the more frilly suggestion of Augusta, preferring the gender-bending ambiguity of August. Some other boyish names she considered for girls included Asa, Felix, Indigo, James, Luther, Rhys and Silas. Another reason she loved August was its use as a word name. Some of her other word-name favourites included Cove, Harbor, Marvel (“My husband would love Marvel. He’s such a geek!”), Merit, Onyx, Reason and Valor.
SAWYER – One more name more commonly used for boys, this name was a long time female favourite of Blaire’s. She loved the sound of Rowan and Sawyer together and, had her second child been a girl, this name would have been a top contender.
SAILOR – Blaire’s father passed away when she was young and she loved the name Sailor as a tribute to his memory, saying: “I’m trying to find a way to subtly honor my father with the next baby’s name. He loved the water and boats and there is also a Grateful Dead song called ‘Lost Sailor’ that always makes me think of him.”
ASHER – Blaire loved Asher for a boy, but, as was her style, liked it even more for a girl. Another reason she loved Asher so much was the potential nickname Ash in honour of her hometown of Asheville. She was likewise considering Ashe as a middle name for a future son.
MACSEN/MAXIMUS/MALCOLM – Blaire loved the nickname Max, but was torn when deciding which formal first name she preferred for this nickname. She loved Macsen – the Welsh variation of Maximus – but was unsure of its unusual spelling: “I’m considering Macsen, nickname Macs, again. But I’m having an internal Berry struggle of desperately wanting to use the original Welsh spelling, but I like the way Maxen looks more.” Maximus was another favourite, particularly for its meaning of ‘warrior’. Malcolm was very nearly her baby boy’s name. A few weeks before her passing, she announced that she and her husband had decided on Malcolm Arrow: “I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and it’s really growing on me.” However, her husband “wasn’t letting go of Maximus” so Blaire wrote out a hospital list for them to finalise after the baby was born. She loved Max for a girl as well and had previously considered Maxine for a future daughter.
FOX – When Blaire first fell pregnant, she began seeing foxes everywhere: “I think foxes are like my omen this pregnancy. I’ve seen two wild ones, which is kind of rare around here, I’ve been planning a Robin Hood/fox themed nursery, and the rental cabin we are in right now is fox-hunting themed. So weird.” She considered Fox as a middle name and it was always a top contenders, ticking both boxes of being a nature name and a word name.
ARROW –The name Arrow came to Blaire in a dream and was a favourite for the middle name spot for her baby boy. This also referenced an inspirational quote she loved: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” At the time of her passing, she and her husband had almost certainly decided on Arrow as a middle name for their baby boy.
CASSIUS – A few weeks before her death, Blaire declared, “I woke up saying the name Cassius.” This was a new addition to her list and quickly became a firm favourite. The day after she died, her husband announced the name he had chosen for their baby boy – Cassius Fox Arrow. All three names were full of meaning for Blaire and her husband and Blaire would undoubtedly have adored this combination.
Blaire and her baby son passed away on February 22, 2015, after she suffered a sudden heart attack. She left behind her husband, Will, and her cherished daughter, Rowan. Several of us were lucky to know Blaire outside of Nameberry. She was an amazing person and a wonderful friend. We miss her.