Grayton is a funky little ol' beach town — and the perfect name for a pair of blessed mothers looking to name their bouncing baby boys.
The community known as Grayton Beach is a place with well-worn paths and real old-style Florida houses with low roofs set comfortably next to newer and taller modern homes. Folks there walk in the street, and have been known to dance in those same streets.
Coupled with a 2-mile stretch of one of the undeniably loveliest, most pristine beaches in the world, the burg emits a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere that has made families and couples want to return year after year. It has been the site of many a first date. Many more relationships are cemented here, earning the community a place in the hearts and minds of many — including two growing families that have named their newborns Grayton.
Megan Harrison grew up in DeFuniak Springs. When she and her now husband Kris began dating, they often came down to Grayton for dinner at The Red Bar, followed by a walk on the beach.
Eight months ago they moved to Santa Rosa Beach.
As they discussed picking out a name for their first child, the Harrisons talked of how much they love Grayton and thought it would be a cool name for a boy. And a boy it was.
Grayton Michael Harrison is now 3-months-old.
"We were thrilled he was a boy and we got to give him such a cool name," said Megan. "Since we moved back to the area, we get to go and take our Grayton to Grayton often. It's special."
Denise Walsh was living in South Walton when she met her future husband, Edward. While dating, they also frequented hot spots in the area, including those in Grayton.
Even though she moved to Mississippi after marrying on Nov. 13, 2010, the couple returns to the place they fell in love often, along with their extended families.
Denise was diagnosed with a non-cancerous, non-removable brain tumor a year after the couple's wedding and underwent exploratory brain surgery.
After one of the surgeries, the Walshes came to South Walton for a mini-vacation in May 2011.
There was a lot going on with her health at the time, but Denise still she felt it was God's will that she get pregnant and trust Him with the outcome.
When she found out she was indeed pregnant, she came off her meds, but there was still concern for the baby and mother's health. The pregnancy was not without its challenges, but Denise is grateful for the many prayers that went up for her and her unborn child.
"We didn't know if I could carry a baby to term or if it would be OK," she says now. "We prayed that the baby would be OK, but we also discussed would we be OK if we had a special-needs child. We decided that we would, no matter what."
Denise said she asked God to use her in what she now calls "an amazing journey."
As the journey progressed, the couple talked about names for their miracle baby. They wanted their baby to have a name that meant something to them.
"Gray kept coming up, like gray matter, and gray areas," said Denise. "We went through Biblical names, but nothing seemed to fit. Then it came to me that this baby is a blessing of 'The Great I Am.' "
So they fused that biblical concept with one of their favorite places in the world, and Grayton Edward Walsh was born Feb. 12, 2013.
Denise was able to carry him full term and the only side effect from the tumor she experienced during that time was head pain.
"We didn't know of any Graytons when we named him," she said. "He's a blessing. Every part of him was beautifully made. It is a miracle of joy that he is healthy and happy. I believe God had a plan. A lot of times people forget that.”
Grayton Edward visited Grayton Beach for the first time last week, and his parents took him all around the town he is named after and to the different sites his mom used to frequent.
"He is God's blessing," said Denise. "Believe in God's plan."