Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's a Name Thing

“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, is a frequently referenced part of William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, in which Juliet seems to argue that it does not matter that Romeo is from her rival's house of Montague, that is, that he is named "Montague." The meaning implied here is that it does not matter what something is named; it’s name does not change what it really is.
 
After my father passed away last month and we were going through his papers and personal effects, I discovered something I’d never really paid attention to before: my dad was quite the writer. We found journals he’d kept for some years back with calendar entries about what he did that day or what the weather was like. We found notes and tidbits, scribbled verses, words of wisdom, and even whole sermons written out. It’s a treasure trove to be sure. It so happens that one folder I found, labeled Hebrews Ch. 3, contained one such sermon or lesson. What was his writing about that day? Names and words, their meanings, and why we use certain words to describe certain things as a way of communication. He begins talking about the origin of the word “light” and what it meant in the Greek and Latin. He then moved on to global economics – how he made the connection I’ll never understand. But the message he begins with about why we use particular words to communicate caught my attention, and here’s why: I was asked by my 6 year old granddaughter if she could call me another name besides Ninny.
 
Cue the pouting….on my part.
 
Say what? No! I’m Ninny – Ninny with the cats (I’ll come back to that) – and I have been ever since that precious little girl was 3 and first acknowledged me by name. That’s what came out, “Ninny, I love you.”
 
Cue more pouting…on my part.
 
I am Ninny with the cats because my daughter’s adoptive mother is Ninny with Lily (her dog). This was the way Kylee was able to tell us apart when her mom or dad would talk about Ninny coming to visit. Which Ninny? Ninny with the cats or Ninny with Lily? I understand the confusion, but I figured if that’s what she wanted to call me then I was Ninny. And I have never been happier to be a Ninny. The other day when they told Kylee that Ninny was coming over (meaning me), she asked which one and they told her Ninny with the cats. Kylee then got confused somehow and asked her parents if she could ask me if she could call me something else.
 
Cue more pouting…on my part.
 
She’d decided on Nanny, but I’m no Nanny so we’ll have to come up with another name. But this whole ordeal got me thinking – what is really in a name? Whether she calls me Nanny, Ninny, Mamie, Mimi, MawMaw, grandma, grandmama, hey you, or anything else doesn’t change who or what I am to that amazing little piece of heaven on earth – I’m her grandmother – and forever will be. I could do what my dad liked to do with words and trace the etymology of the word grandmother and see what I get. I might find some interesting root words.
 
When I arrived at their house that night I got the usual running leaping hug (which I will sorely miss when she outgrows it) and then she launched into her question of the night: “Ninny, can I call you Nanny or something else?” I should be honored that she wants me to have a name that is different from the other grandmothers in her life. She is blessed to have more than two and she is at the age where she understands we are all different. She knows we all love her and she loves us. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what my name is. She is my precious angel and I am beyond blessed with how God has brought that baby into my life. He surely restored what the devil took from me – many more than 10 times over. I have Tyler, her step-brother, to consider now too. He’s got more grandmothers than he knows what to do with. Hey, that’s love right there. So no matter where I end up on the granny name scale, I’ll always know that I am loved whenever I hear that little voice speak up and say, “Ninny, I love you.”

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