They Call Me Jilly Willy

but that name was taken … therefore I am

Growing up I always wanted a nickname.  My dislike of my name was no secret.  Sure now it’s ok and I actually like being one of a few Jill’s.  But back in the 70s, I endured all of  the usual teasing – hey Jill where’s Jack, your pail, the hill?  Duh?  no originality.  Of course Jill can be short for Jillian but not in my case.  My mom just liked the name.

Originally I am told that I was going to be called Lori Jill or Bonnie Jill.  Ironically two of my closest friends in highschool were named Lori and Bonnie.  Anyway, the only thing for certain was that Jill was going to be in there somewhere. But then like any good Catholic, my parents had to use a saint’s name which is why I was named Jill Cecilia.  Later Jill Cecilia Sara (my confirmation name was added) and the only reason Paige is not Sara(h) is because Brian’s cousin named his daughter that first.  Of course we could have had our own Sara but that would have been too confusing for the family.

Pony Bony was almost Billy Bob Jr. did not want a namesake even though the middle names would have been different.  I wanted to name our son  Jr and call him Bubba or Bubbie, just like Uncle Bubbie.  I also liked Joshua Caleb but the mother in law ruined that for me.  In fairness, Billy Bob didn’t really like Joshua either.  He always said with a last name like ours, one syllable first names work best. So he became simply Pony.

Belated rat hole alert!  I have wandered off topic …so back to task, MY nickname.  Over the years I have had some –  Jilly Willy was behest upon me by the Smiths’s.  I am called  J Dub, JW,  or Jillster by some  co-workers.  But my earliest nickname,the only one that stuck and was used only by my daddy was Chili.

When I was about 5ish, my parents took a 2nd honeymoon to  Nuevo Laredo.  They came back bearing souvenirs.  Felt sombreros all around, paper flowers and maracas.  My dad picked up a few phrases during the trip (his first language was Czech until he learned English in the first grade).  He always said once you are bilingual, picking up a 3rd or even 4th language becomes easier.  Your brain is trained to convert words.  He knew enough Polish and German to get by and Tex Mex at work.  He was telling us our names in Spanish – Teresita, Luna, Luis, Jaime, Pablo … wait … what about me!! what about meeeeeee????  And without missing a beat he says why you, your name in Spanish is Chili.  And of course I cried.  It is NOT! you’re making that up.  People eat chili, it’s not a name for people, it is FOOD.  But he stuck to it, yes it is, jilly, willy, chili, they all rhyme, see?  He dried my tears and started calling me Chili.

Many years later almost on his death-bed, he was at Southeast Baptist Hospital and they were getting ready to move him to hospice.  We could only go in to his room a few people at a time.  He was slipping in and out of consciousness.  Mostly out.  I was in the room with my nephew Tim and daddy woke up and looked over to us with those beautiful blue eyes said “oh hi it’s Tim and Chili.” At first, no one believed he spoke to us but he did or we both dreamed it.  I say he DID. And of course I cried.

All this to show just how much names mean.  They say there is no sweeter sound to a person than hearing their own name.  I try to use names in speaking to people.  Not just good morning or hello instead good mornng , Hello .  And that is all.  I gotta work on my closings, cuz I got no more to say  (calling literary license or just bad grammar) Either way … bye for now.

As always, more to come …

3 thoughts on “They Call Me Jilly Willy

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