Saturday, April 23, 2016

What's in a name?

Almost 1 week ago I met the most amazing person ever. He's sweet and kind and funny. He's lovable and affectionate. He has not a single ounce of anger or hate in his heart. He is pure and content. He is a man of very few words. The person I'm talking about is my sweet and snuggly Nicholas and he is my week old son.

People tell you about the sleepless nights and stinky diapers and moments where you've fed him, changed him, held him and consoled him and he still screams without rhyme or reason; and certainly with wanton disregard for what the clock says. People tell you about the price tag on every thing baby related. On the good side they tell you about how 6 and a half pounds of squishy adorableness asleep on your shoulder will melt you instantly. They tell you how looking into his eyes means all is right with the world. They tell you about the switch that flips inside you the moment he's born and all your priorities are rearranged. They tell you that after just one minute with him, the 37 years prior in life where he didn't exist seem unimaginable.

They don't tell you one thing. The utterly strange feeling it is to call him by his name. While he was cooking in mama's tummy, we nicknamed him meatball. First it was because we didn't know if he was Mr. Meatball or Ms. Meatball. And then it was because we chose to keep his name secret until he met the world. And now that he's here, he's just Nick or Nicky or Nicky T. When he is inconsolable, he's Fussy Face. When he poops, he's Stinky Pants. Sometimes he's Sweet Pea. It seems the more nonsensical the nickname, the more heavily we lean on it. It's because it really takes a lot of adjustment to call him Nick. He's a baby and Nick sounds like it belongs to a man, or even someone not so... teeny tiny.

Or maybe it's because of the name in particular. Nicholas Thomas. Why did we choose that? Why was it so important to keep it secret? We just picked it out of a baby name book, right? Nope.

First of all, you know we're not like that. There is rhyme and reason to all we do. Carefully thought out and executed decisions. Second, a strong and traditional name like Nicholas Thomas fits our personality and culture. No disrespect to those who choose names that are more... "new age," but that's incongruent with our way as a couple and family.

But it's more than that. Each name represents an important person in my life. As luck would have it, my amazing wife loved the names and respected the reasons and was on-board without a 2nd word about it. So who is Nicholas and who is Thomas?

Thomas, is one that likely needs no introduction. So I'll start with it and I'll keep it short. Thomas Sabella was my mom's youngest brother, my uncle. He is the uncle we lost 15 Septembers ago. Honoring him and his sacrifice was paramount. Beyond that, my middle name is also Thomas. My Uncle Tommy was also my godfather.

What about Nicholas? He was my paternal grandfather. My father is Vincent, his father was Nicholas and his father was Vincent. By all rights, I was supposed to be Nicholas, and yet, I'm Jason. So we wanted to resume the tradition and pick up with next name in the order. My grandfather was a good man, but he was a bit of a stubborn man. When his first grandchild arrived, he thawed out significantly, I'm told. I'm also told this is a habit of most grandparents along the way. He did everything with me. Unfortunately, he passed away in the summer of 1985 when I was only 6. We lost many years together.

He did other significant things. He was an amateur pilot, for instance. That's why baby Nicky's room is pilot themed. My grandfather always wanted to be a pilot. He tried to be a pilot during World War II when the US Air Force was still the Army Air Forces (The USAF wasn't made independent until September 18th, 1947). And all those years later, in 2003, I went into the Air Force.

My grandfather and I had a special relationship that would have continued through to today, had he lived. And so I wanted his namesake to be the person with whom I'd have the most special relationship ever - my son.

Nicholas and Thomas - 2 men who meant a great deal to me. 2 men who aren't here with us anymore. 2 men who will come together in my darling son - and live on in him. I don't honor them by taking their names. They honor me by being ever present in my little boy.

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