Sunday, February 15, 2009

Odd Inheritance

Earlier this week I wrote a couple of memorials for my grandfathers over on Building Blocks. During the process of writing and selecting the photos to be posted, a curious question kept running through my mind. What did my grandfather Hodge call my grandmother? I could not remember one instance of anytime that he addressed her directly by name or pet name or even "hey, you".

I fired off an email to both my aunts and asked them for the answer. Both of them replied that they could not themselves remember one instance where he addressed her directly by name or any sobriquet. There were cloudy memories of him referring to her as "your ma" when speaking to the kids, but that was it.

Curious. There is no doubt in anyone's mind who knew them that they were devoted to each other, best of friends, life partners in a marriage that worked. This had to be some unique peculiarity of his. On reflection, I'm not sure he ever called me by name. He did, on many occasions, refer to me as "old hen". I have no idea why, except he once commented that I flitted around.

My father had a unique quirk in this area, one that I also adopted to some extent. He liked to pick out his own nickname or pet name for folks. Little brother was quite often "Pistol Pete" or "Davidian". While I am Cindy to almost everyone in my life, Daddy developed his own name for me, "Lucy Sue" and sometimes "Cindy Lou". Mother was almost always addressed by her middle name "Frances". A girl cousin was christened "Butch" (and not for the reason you might think), a young friend in Smiley was "Slats".

I have a small dose of this quirk. I tend to address folks by their full name, if they have a shortened nickname, or a nickname I manufacture myself if everyone else uses their full name. I guess it has something to do with wanting to stand apart from the crowd. I've always been a noncomformist.

It even extends to my pets. All of my dogs answer to at least a half-dozen names. I use their "real" name religiously until they have learned it and then I start addressing them by variations. Mojo is also "Moo-Juice". Coco is also "Coco Puff". (I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! Does that date me or what?) Bebop was the "Big Bopper". Xana was "Xanadu".

It's a peculiar trait. But not quite as peculiar as never ever addressing a loved one by any name. That still has me buffaloed.


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