I don’t think it comes as a great surprise to anybody that Albertsson isn’t my birth name. Shortly after Travels Through Middle Earth went into production, a friend called me to ask if I was changing my name. This wasn’t an unreasonable question. We Pagan folk are relatively casual about names. But it happens that I am using Albertsson as a descriptive, just as I might use Earendeles (“of Earendel”) or Drýmann (the druid). There are some people who have less polite descriptives for me, but I won’t mention those here.
I was standing in the Everglades, in Florida, when I decided to use the descriptive Albertsson as a pen name to honor my dad. Why didn’t I just use his surname? Well, I wasn’t sure if Dad would fully appreciate being identified with the guy who wrote “that Pagan book”. Dad is the son of Lithuanian immigrants who came to America in the early part of the 20th century. There are probably less than a dozen people throughout the United States who have our family name, and all of them, obviously, are closely related to me. I’m not sure if my brother, or my nieces and nephews, or a couple of cousins – any of them – would want to be publicly “outed” as relatives of the guy who wrote the Pagan book.
Over the years I’ve come to recognize that my dad is a special, remarkable man. He is not my biological father. He met my mother, who was divorced, when I was three years old. I’m in their wedding photos. After the marriage, he took a further step and adopted me. Like many adopted children, I didn’t fully appreciate this when I was growing up. A part of me wondered if he loved me as much as he would love a “real” son. Did he care about me as much as he cared about my brothers, or my sister? It took a long time, well into my own adulthood, before I began to understand how wonderful it is that this man stepped into my life and CHOSE to take me as his son. For him I was no accident of birth. I was someone who he wanted. Someone he had to take legal action to claim for his own.
Those of us with adoptive parents are specially blessed. We can be certain beyond any doubt that we were chosen to be a part of our respective families.
Dad fought in Asia in WWII. He was a pilot. He called his plane “Abby’s Cabby”. Dad’s very proud of his contribution in that worldwide fight for freedom. I’m very proud of him too.
Two years ago, while I was still writing Travels Through Middle Earth, Scott and I flew down to Florida to visit my folks. One afternoon Dad took us out to the Everglades to hang out for a while. Dad knows I have an affinity for water and wildlife. And it was there in the Everglades where I reflected on the days, long ago, when Dad would take me to Cub Scout baseball, or down to Velvet Freeze for an ice cream cone. I remembered, too, how he rushed me to the hospital one evening in 1963, when I had a sudden cramp that could have been an attack of appendicitus. I remembered how Dad always demanded honesty from me – above all else – and in turn was always completely fair and honest to me. I realized then, probably for the first time, that he had always been there for me, whether I was aware of it or not. That he had instilled in me his own values.
I realized then that I may not have Dad’s eyes, but in many ways I see the world through those eyes. As I reflected on these things, I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that I was, always had been, and always will be Albert’s son.