It’s been my name since birth: Cynthia Paige Getty. A gift from my parents – chosen by them not because of any particular familial connection, but because they liked those names and felt like they flowed best in that order.
But many people don’t know my first name, because I’ve always been Paige to friends and family. (Except, of course, on the first day of class in school every year of my life, when the teacher would be reading from the official roster; and on official government forms; and on those occasions when my mother was at wit’s end (“Cynthia. Paige. Getty!”).)
I have always been Paige. Not Cynthia. (Though I am very fond of several people named Cynthia.) And I’m definitely not Cindy. (Ditto.) In my public professional life I feel honored and respected to hear “Reverend Getty”, although here in our congregational community it feels like a sign of affectionate respect to hear “Reverend Paige”. I’ve grown used to “Ms. Paige” among my children’s friends, although it never sits quite right on my ears.
I never had a nickname that stuck, although there’s the friend who always called me “pgetty” (that’s pronounced like “spaghetti” without the ‘s’), which led to my first-ever email handle, paghetti. And my newest collection of names – acquired in the last decade since our older child began speaking – Mommy, Mama, Mom.
I cherish all these names.
Each name is precious in its own way, although I don’t think much about them most of the time. And yet it felt like such an important task to choose names for our children. And if you don’t know the story of our family’s last name, ask Graham sometime. We’ve been talking about what we will name another dog when, at an as-yet undetermined time in the future, we bring one into our home.
And I’ve been thinking about how things will change for Anthony when we make him “The Reverend” this weekend. And how many among us have chosen their own names to more adequately express themselves in and to the world. And how important it is to me to call someone by their true name, honoring in a small and precious way who they are.
What names do you cherish?