what’s in a name? – solsc #3

I have an unusual name. I was probably eight years old before I realized that not everyone had to spell their name when they said it. My mother’s name was also unique. I often asked her why she chose to pass along to me the challenge of an odd name, after living all of her life with hers. But Mama liked to stand out in the crowd.

And so my mother named me JeNan. Most people pronounce it poorly (and many don’t even try) so I try to tell those I meet that it rhymes with Japan. That seems to help. And I don’t have a middle name so I had no choice but to go with it. I could have changed it to Jan or something easier when I went to college, or when I get married, or when we moved to a new town. But by then I had gotten used to it. It was me.

Through the years many people have been creative with their pronunciations. Some have been way off. Perhaps they never learned phonics. Most folks say JeeNan, and in fact many of my college friends will write GNan in jest when they send me a note or message.

And then last fall our daughter Beth (note the easy name) and her husband Jamie had their first child. Our precious granddaughter is such a delight. We are so thankful and blessed by having her in our lives.

“What is she going to call you?” my friends have asked. The answer is simple (as long as she goes along with it). Nan it is. Simple, easy, sweet.

Since then I have tried to use my new name when I order food or coffee at restaurants. But I have had some trouble with it. No one understands me when I say Nan. Perhaps it is my southern accent (“Nay-un”). So I still have to spell it. One day I had to repeat the spelling three times (??). Another time the server thought I said Diane. At times I think “Nan” may not be meant to be. But I am not ready to give up, not yet.

I hope little Madison catches on better. Something tells me that I think she will.

9 thoughts on “what’s in a name? – solsc #3

  1. And here I always thought it rhymed with Japan. I’m surprised so many people mispronounce it!

    Love that Madison will call you Nan. That’s just PERFECT!

  2. newtreemom says:

    I’m proud to share my mother’s name, Verrena, but I’ve always been called by my middle name, Diane. That creates its own unique set of problems. My mom was like a grandma to a friend’s daughter, who called her Reenie. To the grandkids, she was granny to one bunch and grandma to another. She tried Mamaw with my daughter but that just never stuck.

    I had an aunt whose grandchildren called her “Okey Dokey” because she always said that so much. And a friend who wanted to avoid “grandma” is “Mimi” instead. My sister is Nana.

    Your love for your granddaughter shines through loud and clear in this writing. You will be happy with whatever name she settles on.

  3. Donna Smith says:

    I never thought my name was difficult to say or spell, but when we moved to Wisconsin (from Maine) and said my name was Donna, some one said “Oh, that is so pretty! How do you spell it?” I spelled it, a bit confused, and they then they looked confused and a little disappointed. “Oh, D-ah-na…”. Of course here in the Northeast we pronounce it “Daw-na”…a much more elegant name!

  4. I love your name!!! I love unusual. I also think your Grandma name is great as well. I love my grandma name…it was supposed to be Mor Mor for mother’s mother in Swedish. But Sam started calling me Mo Mo with a long O. I love it because I had a cat name Mo. Thanks for your slice. xo

  5. rissable says:

    What’s in a name? Everything! I love how you created your grandma name..Congratulations!

  6. elsie says:

    Having a challenging name caused me to name my child a simple, easy to spell name too, David. What possessed our parents to put a capital in the middle of the name? I don’t have a middle name either since my first name sounds like two names already. Nan will be easy for Madison to learn and say.

  7. blkdrama says:

    Bravo JeNan. If we met face-to-face I might not pronounce your name correctly at first, but I would work on it. My love’s name is Tuvia. For the longest time I didn’t call him anything until I got comfortable with it.
    Glad you stayed with it.
    Bonnie (not such a popular name. People always ask me if it’s a nickname. For what???

  8. margaretsmn says:

    I think no matter what people mess up names. My last name is Simon. Simple, right? Nope. We live in South Louisiana where most Simons are pronounced the French Acadian way See-mohn. And then some people mix it up with Simmons. Once a newspaper article about me spelled it three different ways and not one was Simon! Be happy with your name. And BTW, most first grandchildren name their grandparents weird names. Heads up. My mother-in-law is Minga.

  9. Pamela Hodges says:

    JeNan,
    I use to live in Japan, so I will remember how to say your name. And how sweet you have a new name for Madison to call you.
    So happy to read your stories again.

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