What’s in a Name?

There are times when we are called by different names.  I’m not referring to name-calling but rather nicknames and titles.  When our receptionist would get a phone call for me and the caller would ask for me as “Ricky”, she would tell me that one of my cousins or aunts must be on the line. She knew that they were the only ones who used that particular nickname. Titles, however, are a bit different.  We all have them.  I’ve had a few, as well.  Mister, Airman, Sarge, Boss, and even the occasional Sir.  Plus, a few more that are business and community-related.  Some are earned, others not.

When our generation of baby boomers were growing up, it was unimaginable for any kid to address an adult by their first name.  No neighborhood parent would have tolerated anything other than Mr. or Mrs.  It didn’t have to be insisted upon, as we all recognized our place.  I know the culture has changed and it’s more casual now, but a lack of social graces has led to a lack of respect.

The title that comes from being a parent is, naturally, the one we all cherish the most.  If you’ve had that experience, you know that there’s something about being called Mom or Dad, that reaches deeply into your heart as nothing else can.  Those names convey love, respect and deeply held emotions.

When our first grandson, Ben, was beginning to talk, I tried desperately to get him to say “Grandpa”.  Then, one day while on my lap in our family room while I kept reciting “Grandpa”, Ben insisted on saying “Popper”.  To which I replied “No, Ben.  Say Grandpa”.  We went back and forth with that repetition for what seemed like weeks.  Eventually, I resigned myself to the fact that was going to be Popper to Ben.  At least he was calling me something unique. As time went on, our whole family thought it was endearing, especially me, so we let it stand.  We have been blessed since then with 4 granddaughters and another grandson.  They all call me Popper and I have really grown to love the name.  Well, the newest grandson is Sammy and he’s only beginning to talk, as I write this.  He has taken to pronouncing Popper as “Pop-air”.  It has a kind of French flair.  Cute.  Nothing against the French but with a little encouragement from the family, he’ll soon be calling me Popper.  Maybe I’m a little finicky now, but I have grown to enjoy the moniker that has been given to me by those who have been born into our little family.  They have etched it on my heart.

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, Chapter 8, verse 15 “but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father’.”  If you have been born into the family of God through the new birth, He is your Father,  Abba is Aramaic for Father but more of a term of endearment; like one might say “Daddy”.  You have been adopted into his household through nothing you did to earn it.  It’s by grace alone that God says, “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands”.

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Rick Gile

Rick Gile

Life is made up of stories. You may not realize it, but we relay our experiences to one another all the time. They can give our loved ones a sense of the past, our friends a glimpse of how we have reacted to life's changes. Or, tell a new acquaintance something about ourselves. Stories are really about the journey of life.

What you encounter as life passes are views of events that make up your past, while shaping your future. What you read here are merely a few of the stories that have shaped my life, so far.

Rick and his wife Olga live in upstate New York, close to their grandchildren. They work part-time with their sons after running a business for 37 years in the Albany area.

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