What’s in a (Nick) Name?

by Andy Wood on May 3, 2016

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle, LV Stories, Principle of Legacy, Turning Points, Words

Grandpaw and Button

One of my favorite pics of Grandpaw and Button

It was one of the many differences between us.  Maybe it was generational. Maybe it had more to do with personality. I don’t know.  To me it was silly at best, annoying it worst.

Corny, that’s it.  It was corny.

But my dad did it without apology, and routinely yucked about it.

“This is so-and-so,” he would say, “but I call him [insert nickname here].”

To know him well enough to banter at all – which for him meant more than one conversation – usually earned you some sort of nickname.

The manager of the local bank:  “I call her Cuz.”

A friend and pastor’s wife:  “Here comes Trouble.”

His and Dean’s friend Dolores got a play on the pronunciation, for no apparent reason:  “Doh-loh-reez.”

To be fair, he came by it honest.  His dad, my granddaddy, did the same thing.  All my life I was “Peanut.” I hated it, especially when somebody else used it – until he wasn’t around to call me that any more. Maybe that’s why Daddy didn’t do that with my sister and me.  Other than naming me after himself and calling me by my middle name, I didn’t have another moniker to go by.  Plenty of pet names, of course, but those are different.

He started the process with my grandkids, too.  When somebody said that Laura Kate, still in the womb, was about the size of a button, that became her nickname – Button.  Cohen, Shepherd and Jackson got them too. I think that’s about the time somebody fussed about it (wasn’t me, I promise) and he quit. Or maybe the babies were coming so fast he actually ran out of good ones.

Anyway, when he would randomly tell me those names, I would politely listen, sometimes inwardly roll my eyes, and write it off as behavior in context.

Until Friday night.

That’s when the flowers from my cousins – sisters themselves – arrived at the visitation, signed “Pam-ella” and “Pea-shell.”  Pam and Alison for the uninitiated.

Then one by one, different friends would come by to express their sympathy and their love for my dad.  They would introduce themselves and I would politely nod and thank them for coming.  Then, one after another, they would say, “He called me…”

He called me Knucklehead.

He called me Cue Ball.

“Oh Yes!  I feel like we’ve met.  He spoke of you often” (he had).

The next day more of the same. After the funeral, where this had happened enough to catch my attention so I said something about it in the service, more and more people came up shared the special bond created between my dad and them, all centered around a term of endearment he gave them.

It was a sign of respect.

It was an expression of their uniqueness.

It was his language of love, and they knew it.

Just call me Turnip Truck.  I never really got it until the time of his death.  My dad was a LifeVestor in many ways – this was just one I never understood until his funeral.

And I consider it a lesson learned.  Even if nicknames aren’t my thing, I’d better have an answer to those three questions: What can I do to express to someone else my respect, their unique value, and my love?

Somebody joked afterward that he’s probably giving nicknames to people he meets in heaven.  Or maybe that’s his “new name written down in Glory” – Nickname.  After all, Jesus Himself called James and John “Sons of Thunder” – “Thunderhead” in our vernacular. Thomas was called “Twin,” probably because he was one. Or maybe he did great impersonations.

Following a great day of celebrations of his life we were back at the farm, then this happened:

Double Rainbow

Just under the center of the rainbows from where we stood was the grave where we had laid him.  A sweet reminder of a covenant-keeping God and a promise of life and joy beyond the darkness and storms we may be encountering.

All from the Christ who has a new name waiting for me.

And from a father who, even when I didn’t always get it or appreciate it, gave those he loved a preview of coming attractions.

Martha Orlando May 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Terms of Endearment . . . That’s what your Dad gave in his nicknames for others. What a genuine and loving man he was!
And that rainbow? God is so good, isn’t He?
Keeping you in thoughts and prayers, Andy.
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Give Attention to Reading!

Karen Lutz Davis May 3, 2016 at 9:50 pm

He called me “us a” cause of a USA t-shirt I had. And Ann he called “O Henry” cause of her shirt. Missing him already. Love you all

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