Anyone who knows me well knows that I waited a long time to be a “DiGiovine,” which is my mother’s maiden name. It is a connection to my Papa and to my family. It is a name that has so much meaning to me and for a long time, I thought it was what made me who I was. It was what made me feel like I belonged.
Changing my name to DiGiovine symbolized freedom. It symbolized breaking away from a difficult past and a biological father who was never a father. My Papa didn’t live to see me change my name to DiGiovine, but it was something we talked about all the time and I know he was there with me when I did.
When I got engaged, people asked me what I was going to do about my name. I was 100% sure I wanted to be Julie Saldarriaga. What I wasn’t sure about was my middle name. On one hand, I wanted to keep DiGiovine and was afraid of not having it anymore. On the other hand, I love Marie and it is the name my mother gave me. It is her confirmation name and my best friend’s middle name, too. It's very special to me.
People asked if I was going to keep DiGiovine and kept reminding me of the struggle I went through and the years of pain I endured. It made me feel like a bad person for not incorporating DiGiovine. It made me feel like I was going to let my Papa down and my family, or that I would lose myself somehow. So, a week after the wedding, I decided to take it as my middle name. Then, I got the social security card in the mail but something didn’t feel right... I've always been Julie Marie.
As much as I cherish DiGiovine, I need to move forward knowing that I belong no matter what my name is and that my family loves me no matter what. And my advice to other brides struggling with this issue, follow your heart. Your family will love you regardless of what your name is.
Being part of a blended family means loving many different names. Saldarriaga, DiGiovine, Moniz, Robertson, McGrath, Lyons, Kalinowski, Shea, Cano, Arruda, Estrada, Peleaz… these are all the last names of family members that I love. In fact, since I was 12, my true father has been my step-father, Michael J. Moniz. This just goes to show you, that even though we don’t all share the same name, we are all connected.
I need to start fresh and continue to build our family with my husband. And I realized that I will always be a DiGiovine no matter what any piece of paper says. When I tell my children about my name and my family, they will know DiGiovine and they will love and respect it just as much as I do. They will know all about their great-grandfather, Salvatore (“the Italian you’ll never forget”) and the story of what their mother went through to have his last name.
DiGiovine will always be a symbol of love, family, and my Italian heritage, which is very important to me. It is love and a heroic symbol of my grandfather and the family that came before him. It will always be my maiden name and something that I cherish as part of me.
So, it’s time for a new chapter… one with the man I love more than anything. One that includes all the people in my family that I love so much. So, today, on our one month anniversary, I became Julie Marie Saldarriaga.
DiGiovine means “son of young” and one of my grandfather and I's favorite songs to sing in the car would be Forever Young by Rod Stewart. He would always tell me that’s how he felt about me and I know in my heart that he would be proud. I know that he would want me to move forward with no regrets.
It was an honor to be Julie DiGiovine and it always will be. “Whatever road you choose, I’m right behind you, win or lose.” Forever young, forever DiGiovine.
- Julie Marie Saldarriaga