People have got this woman’s name wrong all her life – but there’s a twist


People have got this woman’s name wrong all her life – but there’s a twist

Summer Heacock says people getting her name wrong has been a ‘bizarre, long-running cosmic joke’.

(Summer Heacock)
(Summer Heacock)

We’ve all been called by the wrong name at some point in our lives but for one woman in the US, things have been much more than an occasional case of mistaken identity.

Summer Heacock, a 37-year-old novelist from Washington, says people have been randomly calling her Heather her whole life – from strangers and friends to her hairdresser and even her doctor.

Adopted when she was just six weeks old, her parents decided to call her Summer but strangely, the name Heather followed her around.

Apart from concluding that it was a weird coincidence, Summer didn’t think much of it until a recent life-changing event made her question whether there was something more to it all, which she describes as “my high bar of weird” in a Twitter thread.

Born and raised in Indiana, Summer, who now lives with her husband and two children in Washington, says she can’t remember when people first started calling her Heather but her earliest memory of hearing the name was when she was three.

She told the Press Association: “The first time I have a vivid memory of it was when I was three and in pre-school, and the teacher’s assistant called me Heather.

“I didn’t respond, thinking she was talking to someone else, and she was frustrated that I was ignoring her.

“At that time, I was more concerned with having an adult be angry with me than anything else.”

Little did she know at that time that “Heather” was was going to play a more prominent role in her life.

(Summer Heacock)

She said: “Strangers call me Heather. My doctor I had been seeing for years called me Heather. People ask my husband how his wife Heather is doing.

“The salon I went to for seven years wrote out an appointment reminder card to ‘Heather’.

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“Friends I’ve known for years will slip and call me Heather. A few months ago, my own husband called me Heather!”

So many people get her name wrong on a regular basis that Summer started to document all the times she was “Heathered” using the hashtag #NotHeather.

She said: “At least once a week for as long as I can remember, someone will call me Heather. It’s been this bizarre, long-running cosmic joke.”

Summer says she has been trying to get hold of her original birth certificate because “I always joke the Heathering is the universe’s way of telling me that random name was Heather”.

Then two weeks ago things changed for Summer when a woman got in touch through Facebook.

After messages were exchanged, she realised the woman was her biological sister.

Soon, she was on a plane to Shelbyville in Indiana see her birth family.

She said: “Meeting everyone in person was… intense. There was a lot of hugging and crying and questions.

“But it was also amazing and fascinating. It’s been a lot to process, for all of us.”

(Summer Heacock)

But the biggest twist of all was yet to come.

She said: “I casually asked if they knew the name I was given when I was born, and I swear I almost fell over when they answered, ‘Yeah, Heather’.

“I was standing there with my jaw on the ground, blinking wildly. I hadn’t mentioned to any of them anything about the Heather phenomenon.”

Turns out, the detective hired by her biological father and his wife to track her down found her birth certificate, on which she was named Heather.

Summer said: “I’d joked for years that maybe the universe was trying to tell me I’d been named Heather when I was in flux between being born and being taken home by my parents when I was about six weeks old, but I never thought that could actually be the reality.

“It was too weird to be real. For the rest of our time together, I kept sort of whisper-shouting, ‘OK, but are you SURE!? HEATHER!?’.”

Despite subtle hints from the universe, Summer says she doesn’t plan to legally change her name, but she adds: “I am definitely considering using it as a pen name to write kids’ books.

“I think it would be a thoughtful hat tip to it all. It’s too surreal to not pay homage to in some way.”

Her new book Crashing The A-List, comes out in March.

Press Association

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