Sunday, September 27, 2015

How I got my 'Nana' Name

 “Could you just call me Pigeon?” he asked the teacher when she read his name.
“Does your mother call you Pigeon?”
“Then to me you are Paul.”
“Nathan Sutter,” the teacher read.
“My mother never calls me Nathan.”
“Is it Nate?”
“She calls me Honeylips.”
Brandon Mull, The Candy Shop War      

Not long ago I shared something special with my eight year old grandson, Emmett Thomas Deere. After finishing my tale of how I got my ‘Nana’ name he, with his usual ‘you are old, goofy and kind of strange but I love you with all my heart’ laugh, ran off to play. He is a man of few words, that one.

He does call me his Nana.

And as I told the child that day, it was (almost) a miracle how that came to be.

Emmett was just a tiny tyke and adorable; he won the hearts of all females who got a peek at him… given the fact he had such beautiful blue eyes, the chubbiest cheeks and longest lashes God ever graced on a baby.

Years prior to Emmett when I became a grandmother to my first born grandchild, Chandler Logan Tolbert, now nineteen, vanity struck in a major way. Calling me Grandmother, Grandma, Granny or any such name was simply out of the question. Without any conviction, I instructed my daughter, Tara, and her husband, Ken, to repeat ‘Mimi’ over and over to that sweet little boy. They did, I did, and my always compliant first grandbaby was soon murmuring ‘Mimi’ to his adoring… Mimi. Then when sweet Ryleigh Emerson blessed us with her presence, Mimi was the natural name for her as well.

But now there was Emmett. Since the other two grandchildren lived on the outskirts of Nashville and he in Bristol, I set about the time consuming task of teaching him to call me Mimi.

One day while visiting their home, my daughter, Mandy, and her husband, Ira, were gracious enough to let me take over the supervision of lunch for this child I had come to adore. Bits of fruit, veggies, turkey, and soft bread lay on his high chair tray. As I settled before him, I continued the mantra I had begun months before. “Can you say Mimi, Emmett? Say Mimi, my darling. I am Mimi."

All of a sudden and with as much clarity as a bolt of lightning striking my heart, this adorable blond babe looked at me and said, “Nana”. I was thunder struck! I incredulously blurted, “What? What did you say, precious?”

Again, Emmett looked directly in my face and said, “Nana”. Oh holy cow!  “Mandy! Ira! Hurry, come here!”

They rushed into the dining area where their brilliant child sat in his chair squishing a soft piece of bread in his hand, smiling sweetly at me.  

“Did you hear that?” I asked in a hushed tone so as to not further startle the child. “Did you hear what Emmett just said?” “Listen!” “Emmett, I am Mimi.”

Those big blue eyes looked at me again and just as firmly said, “Nana.”

Deliriously happy and with much excitement I jumped up and danced around the room; magnanimously I told my two adult children it did not matter to me if this precious child did not want to call me Mimi. If Emmett wanted to call me his ‘Nana’ he most definitely could!
So from that day on I instructed everyone in our family to refer to me as Nana 'cause that was what my grandson wanted to call me!

So Nana I became to that smart little fella and Nana I will forever be.

But hold the reins on those horses now.

Mandy and Ira broke down a couple of years ago and told me there had been a little misunderstanding in their dining room that day. The kind of fruit on Emmett’s tray back then… slices of banana. He had eaten it all; he was simply asking for more 'nana' from me. They did not, at the time, want to humiliate me.

And so goes the saying…there is no fool like an old fool.


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