When I was young, my mom told me that I was as precious and unique as a snowflake. Or at least she probably would have if she had been into sentimental platitudes, which (thank goodness) she’s not. My mom likes to keep it real.
As it turns out, however, I am as unique as a snowflake in one particular way. A few weeks ago, I got the official notice from the Swedish government that my name change had gone into effect, and I am now officially Katherine Gabriella Reuterswärd… and as far as I can tell, I’m the only Katherine Gabriella Reuterswärd, or Kate Reuterswärd for that matter, IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD.
That’s, like, 1 in 7 billion kazillion holy moly lot of people. Drumroll, please! I’m going to start playing the lottery.
According to extensive internet research (aka several pages of Google results), the only two people I can find that are even close to sharing my name are a Karin Reuterswärd and a Gabriella Reuterswärd, both of whom live in Stockholm. That’s as close it gets! Unless there’s someone else out there who is totally off the grid but also happens to be named Kate Reuterswärd, in which case I will be in for a surprise when that person or her internet-using representative shows up in the comments.
Growing up in the United States, my name was just as common as it gets. Kate / Katie / Katherine / Catherine / Kathryn / Kaitlyn / Kaitlin / Caitlin / Kathleen / Kathy and so on with all the possible spelling variations was one of the most popular girls’ names in my age group. Katherine was #28, Katie was #38, Kathryn #51, Kathleen #72… start adding them up and you’ll understand why my soccer coaches would always give the assorted Kates nicknames or numbers to tell them apart.
I had always assumed I would change my name when I got married, and when the time came, I didn’t really have any reservations… right up until the point when I actually had to sign a paper stating that I would be giving up Wiseman and moving on to Reuterswärd. Signing over my name? Oh my God!! It got very dramatic.
A couple of weeks later, I was over the shock of the change. Now my name feels like a little testament to our international relationship: very Anglo first name, very Swedish last name, totally unique result!
There’s one more reason why Reuterswärd is a really exciting last name, at least when you’re not teaching people how to pronounce it. We have a shield!
Great great great great great (etc) granddad Anders Hof saved the Swedish King in the Battle of Lund while fighting, who else?, the Danes. He got knighted a few years later and has a shield which is preserved in a special museum in Stockholm. The whole thing predates the existence of my homeland as a country. Mind boggling.
To all current and would-be pursuers of Swedish citizens, let me just say this. There is nothing like a shield to make you feel like a real life Mia Thermopolis. And an unusual last name? Seals the deal.
If he or she doesn’t have one, make it up. You could also be one in 7 billion!