For whatever reason, we talk often about names in our house.
I am Marsha Fondren Weems Stacey.
My husband is Scott Jordan Stacey.
My son is Jordan McDonald Stacey.
My daughter is Leigh Louise Stacey.
My mother is Judith Louise McDonald Weems.
My father is Charles Alvin Weems.
My brother is Leigh Hayes Weems.
My sister is Anna Stanton Weems Sumrall.
My mother-in-law is Agnes Jordan Stacey.
My father-in-law is Douglas Enoch Stacey.
Scott’s brothers are Brian Douglas Stacey and Jason Allen Stacey.
My children are most likely fascinated by names around here because they are both named for someone else, multiple people at that, and their names are special.
In addition, almost every one of my relatives and family friends has a funny nickname–or, they have an aunt and uncle that aren’t really their aunt or uncle by blood that they call “Aunt” or “Uncle.” That’s confounding–or, at least, it was to me when I got into my teens and realized my “Aunt Ebbie” and “Uncle Sonny” weren’t even kinda blood related to me, and that half of our town called them that. I may not have understood i back then, but it made them even more endearing to me, blood or no blood.
They still are.
I’m Aunt Chicken to my “nephew,” Ace McDonald, because my children are his mother, their Miggie’s, chicken nuggets. She isn’t my sister, by blood. But she’s still their Miggie. And they are her nuggets. Of course they are.
Mac and Leelee call my brother, Uncle Brother, for obvious reasons.
My sister is their “Aunt Pants,” for less obvious ones.
Scott’s brother is BB and his wife, Kristen, is Kiki.
All of our cousins are “Aunts” or “Uncles,” even though they are really just cousins. And then, some cousins just get variations of their own names, which is just as good as Aunt or Uncle. Like Heafie.
Mimi. Bec-Bec. Grancy. Those are all thier great aunts.
We even have a great-great aunt, my Great Aunt Mary Alice. She is their Great-Great.
Then, there are more like Miggie: totally unrelated by blood. I say blood is totally overated: Uncle Ricky. Say-Say. Uncle Wes. Kat. Ran-Ran. Auntie Em.
Scott’s parents are Mawmaw and Papoo.
Best ever: they call my real Uncle Sam, The Unk.
They call his wife, my Aunt Marsha, for whom I am named, Big, because I am Little. I don’t know if that is better than “Old,” since I am “Young.” She didn’t get to pick, however, and now she is stuck with it. She deals with it just fine…because a nickname equals love in our house, and she is most definitely loved.
That’s just how we roll around here. I could do this all night.
But my daddy, to them, was Charles.
He was their Charles.
It wasn’t a nickname, but it wasn’t a grandfather name, either, because he just wasn’t having a grandfather nickname. No “Pawpaw” for him.
Mama is their Honey. He just wanted to be Charles.
And though it was his real name, it became his “nickname.” Because it was said, everytime, will all of the love that goes into being given a special name, a name just for you.
My cousin, Tonya Louise Whitener Childers, teases about all of us being named the same thing and its confusing to have so many Sam’s and Marsha’s and Tanya’s and Tonya’s and Nancy’s, split among several families, all under the same umbrella, even she (b/c she did it with her own children), knows how special it is to name a child after someone else, to give someone a legacy through a name, to make up a fun nickname that gives that person a role in a child’s life that only that can person can fill.
After all, she is the 3rd generation who carries the name “Louise.” Leelee is the 4th.
So, tonight, Mac, Leelee, and I went through the gamut of names, and we got around to why they are named what they are named. They know that, if Mac had been a girl, his name would have been Leelee, and if Leelee had been a boy, her name would have been Carr.
They now know that if Mac had been Leelee, Leelee would have been Alice-Anna.
Mac wanted to know if Big Mac, my grandfather, for whom he was named, ever talked about wanting a great-grandson. I knew what he meant. What he really wanted to know was: Would Big Mac have liked me? Would I have liked him? Would I have been special to him because I had his name?
The answer to all of the above would have been a resounding yes.
Big Mac would have adored you, Little Mac. And you would have adored him. Big Mac was a career soldier who softened the older he got, and he would have not been Brig. Gen. Robert McDonald where you were concerned. Oh no. He would have been your golf partner, and he would have been early to every one of your football games.
He would have delighted in you. He would have taken you to the Waffle House on Saturday mornings, just as he took me to IHOP. He would have pretended to read about you in the paper like he did me: “It says here that Mac Stacey is the meanest linebacker Canton Academy peewee football has ever seen! Well, how about that?!”
He would have taught you to play gin rummy. He would have taught you to hold a door open for a lady.
He would have loved you very much the same way your Charles did.
And he would have beyond loved that you were “Little Mac.” Beyond loved that.
And then, I asked him: If you had to name your children, Mac, what you would name a boy?
And he answered: “Charles. Definitely Charles,” he said.
Daddy, you loved him so hard that at 10, he wants to name his child for you. If you were still here, and I asked him the same question, it would be the same answer.
You left him on purpose, and he still wants to name his child after you.
THAT’s love, Daddy. That’s pure love.
Leaving isn’t loving, but he loves you anyway.
He wants you to keep living, even if it is just so he gets to call your name again.
I named my son Mac so I could call my grandfather’s name again, over and over and over. I wanted him to have a legacy of which he could be proud. I wanted him to ask me, one day, why did you name me Mac? And I couldn’t wait for that day to tell him about MY Mac, now Big Mac, and what he stood for and what he looked like and how he loved me.
I wanted it so much that I did it.
And after our conversation, I know Mac wants exactly the same thing.
He wants his child to one day ask: Daddy, why did you name me Charles? He wants his son to ask him that question JUST so he can answer him.
I know how much he wants to just say your name, out loud, so it can still live and breathe.
But what he really wants is for you to live and breathe.
Charles Stacey. Bank on it.
And now, what I want to know is: how could you not have been willing to live and breathe for him?