Friday, January 13, 2012

A Baker by Another Name

Nicknames can be a curious thing. Often they're given in childhood by family members or come almost by happenstance as a younger sibling takes a stab at pronouncing an older sibling's name. For instance, my sister was unable to say my name, Robin, which left me with the unusual tag of “Wadit.” Even my spelling of this is simply my own interpretation of the affectionate name my parents and baby sister, exclusively, called me for a time. Other than this unusual title and a few pinned on me by what my mother called interested little boys in grammar school, like Moon Pie and Elsie, I never had an official nickname.

I remember always wanting a nickname, thinking it spoke of something really personal and special in the relationship of those bearing one. However, I'm thankful my sister's name for me never caught on or I might still be explaining that one.

In our immediate family, we have Patsy and Hernie (my sister and husband) and Lad and Miss, my niece and nephew. My daughter has been called Kuwelly but the more unusual nickname she bears is Punk, the one assigned to her by her beloved husband Micah (who used to be called Spanky—the origin of which I am uncertain.) My son has been dubbed Kurtimous.... my daughter in law, Sheena Bean. And of course, I can't forget the grandchildren. There's the oldest ,Asher, whose daddy calls him Hero and Ellis affectionately known as Ellie Bug. Then there's Davis, the youngest or Davey Boy as I have called him since I kept him as an infant. This would leave me with the unfavorable titles of my youngest years or those of first to third grade boys if I'd not been given my special grandmother name.

I finally got the opportunity to wear a new name when I became a grandmother. I will forever wear my grandmother name “Neenie” proudly and even live to hear my great grandchildren call me by this precious name.

For some folks, they've been called by a nickname for so many years, the origin of the name is not even known any longer. My sweet daddy, born January 14, 1926, will be 86 years old this Saturday. His first name is Edwin and he has no middle name. As long as I can remember, he was known by the nickname NOM or sometimes even called “Nommie John.” Over Christmas, one of my dad's cousins asked what name to put on his Christmas card. She'd only known him by his nickname and didn't know how to address the envelope. Even his only living sibling says it's a mystery to her where he acquired this name.

When NOM was a young man, he became a professional boxer and wore the title “the Kannapolis Flash.” My brother in law has come to call him by the affectionate name of “Green,” our last name. Through the years, my daddy has worn quite a few hats and borne quite a few names. He's been a farm boy, a boxer, a brick mason and a gardener. He's been a son, brother,husband, daddy, grandfather and great grandfather. He's been called Ed, Eddie, the Flash, Green, Honey, Nom and Nommie John. If the number of names one has been called has anything at all to do with the affection felt for the individual, I'm guessing he takes the win in this ring.

When one of my grandchildren was quite small, he tried to describe one of his grandmothers as “the grandma with the pool.” Just a toddler, he was making associations to remember each of his special grandparents. As a result, my daddy became the “grandpa with the garden.” Voila! My daddy gained a new name...”Papaw Garden.”

Grandfathers are special by any name. Some choose their own name and others are named by one or more of their grandchildren. We have all decided that Papaw Garden is a perfect name for this grandfather who has planted seeds of loyalty, respect, and love that will continue to grow in and through him for generations to come.

As he celebrates his 86th birthday, I'd like to add one more title to the ones above. No it's not butcher or candlestick maker, but he's been known to bake a cake or two. Yes, he's been a Baker! After my mother passed away, he tried his hand at baking. One of his favorites to make was a 48 Hour Orange Cake. Some of the church ladies have even called to ask him to make one of these for one of their gatherings. There are quite a few ingredients and quite some time involved in the making. You will, however, not be disappointed in the results.

Baking can be like the relationships we share in this life. “It's all about what you put in and the time you give to them that make them rewarding and memorable. We are all thankful for the ingredients Papaw Garden has brought to the mix of this family.

Like the words from the book, Grandfather by Another Name, by Booth and Henderson, “the sweetest sound to the ears of a grandfather is the endearing name his grandchildren give him. We hope the sound of “Happy Birthday Papaw Garden!' will be the sweetest sound my daddy hears tomorrow as he celebrates another birthday. Long after the last slice of time we share with him on earth there will be the lasting sweetness of a man called NOM..



Man like him!

48 Hour Orange Cake

1 Orange cake mix

1 Box orange jello

1 Vanilla Instant Pudding

½ Cup Oil

1 ½ Cups Milk

4 Eggs

(Make 3 Layers)

Mix and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees


1 Large can crushed pineapple

2 cups of sugar

1 package coconut

Mix in 1 small sour cream

1 Container of Cool Whip

Spread on the three layers and refrigerate.

Best if baked and iced 48 hrs before serving.


  1. I had so much fun reading this. It was true for my mother what you wrote about a nickname coming becomes little siblings could not say your name. Her name is Phylis but her brothers stil call her Phydie. I can also relate to the little ones speaking of their Grandparents in relation to something they have, in your case a pool. My Grandson would speak of his Grandmothers in connection with their dogs. So it was Grandma of Tessie and Messy, Grandma of Bo and such. I felt real special cause he just called me Grandma Trendle.

  2. Just beautiful....went and made me cry again! Thanking God your sweet Daddy celebrated another birthday! God heard and answered ALL of our prayers! ....and the cake sounds amazing!!!
    Thank you, dearest Robin, for always sharing from your heart and life with those of us who love you so!


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