top of page

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

We got married! Life is so exciting, and I am feeling blessed.

And now I have the honor of taking on his last name, Murphy. A tremendous Irish name attached to an amazing man.


I am 51 years old. It feels weird.

What’s in a name?

For 23 years, my last name was Barczak. I cling to connections with family and my ancestry. Barczak is Polish and may have been altered during immigration, and I am still researching. But I was excited to change my name to Frank when I married Mike. No more spelling it out “B as in boy, A as in apple, R as in Roger, C as in car…”. You get it. And I was thrilled to be taking such adult steps and completing social expectations. I barely considered not changing it.

Then my husband passed away. Staying a Frank kept me connected to him and our daughter.

Getting married again meant I had to consider my future name. I have been a Frank for 28 years now, and I am pretty comfortable with my name and recognition factor. Keeping my late husband’s name while marrying Paul was an option, but I didn’t feel comfortable honoring a late husband and not a current husband. I thought about hyphenating it to stay connected and maintain consistency with my network of friends and colleagues. But that didn’t feel right either. As if I am identifying myself purely by my husbands rather than myself.

So what is in a name, and what does it mean for my identity?

When I named my business, I chose “Mary Helen” as that will always be my name. Technically, Barczak will always be my name as well. I could go back to Barczak, and that is always an option. But that felt like going backward – I have become bigger than who I knew as Mary Barczak.

Paul supported any decision I made, but I felt his love knowing that I would be a Murphy with him – our clan.

Now I know that it would have been easier to stay with Barczak and never change it. I wish I had considered just a bit more in 1992 about who I was and how my name was a part of my identity.

I joked the other day with a friend that I would spell Murphy differently – like Murfee – and make it my own. Then it hit me that that is what I needed. To make my name my own. There has never been a Mary Murphy like me before.

I joined Paul’s clan and changed my name to Murphy. (Soooooo much paperwork!)

Look out, world! There is a new Mary Helen Murphy here, and she is ready to write a new chapter.

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page