04 December 2011

Rockie, Aunt Curtis and Being Winsome

Families share a secret language and often use nicknames as terms of endearment. I have had several. Rosemarie is not the easiest name for children to learn and some of the more clever variations have stayed with me. Rosarie, Rockarie, Rockie, Ro, Curtis and Luigi. Ro is the one that got the best use. I know, Curtis and Luigi are a bit odd but in their context they make perfect sense.

I lived in an area that at one time was used by the Oakland Raiders for summer training. My brother had a friend who played for them and he could never remember my name. One day we were all on the river enjoying a day in the sun and my brother's friend said, "You have an unusual name but I can't remember it." My response? "I know that it would be difficult for someone with a football mentality to remember. It's two whole letters. Ro.
R O- take notes if you can't keep up." He laughed and said he would do his best to remember. I saw him several months later and he smiled and said, "Don't tell me. You made an impression on me the last time. I'll remember, just give me a minute." Much to my surprise he blurted out, "CURTIS! Curtis Rowe! See? I remembered!" From that day on my brother has called me Curtis. His son calls me Aunt Curtis. I get introduced to people as Curtis which leads to the inevitable "That's an unusual name for a woman, how do you spell it?" Imagine their surprise when I say, "R O."

Luigi was my name before I was born. My mother had been married before she met my father and had three children. My sibling's names all begin with the letter "L" and my mom wanted to do that with me. My father announced my name would be Rosemarie if I was a girl and if I was a boy she could name me any "L" name she wanted just as long as it was Italian. Really? An Italian L name? Mom called me Luigi. My Christmas presents and birthday presents were addressed to Luigi. I'd give a million dollars to hear her say one more time, "Hey, Luigi!" with her flawless Italian accent and her green Irish eyes twinkling while she did.

Today I was contacted by someone I haven't seen in probably 32-33 years. She was a teenager and the daughter of my sister's boyfriend. We met briefly as my sister introduced her boyfriend's family to her family. My sister and her father didn't stay together that long. My sister always called me Rockie which she derived from Rockarie which may have preceded Rosarie, I am not too sure which of those came first. The young woman that contacted me called me Rockie and told me that she had been impacted by knowing me. She remembered I was an EMT and that had really impressed her because EMT's save people's lives. She lamented the fact that parents introduce kids to people they fall in love with and then never think twice when they part ways. I was humbled and convicted.

First of all, I hated being an EMT. I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT as a means to an end. I wanted to work in public safety as a dispatcher for the sheriff's office. The few runs I went on as an EMT were horrible. Why? Because I did what they had trained me to do and the people still died. OK, not everyone I treated died- but the first call I ever went on that man died. He did not play by the rules as laid out in the text and training. He did not keep his end of the bargain. I avoided going on calls after that unless I was certain of the patient's ability to play fair and stay alive. I am glad I was an EMT and I am glad I have the knowledge base, but I despised the work. I had to find ways to quit asking myself, "Did you do something wrong? Did you cause them to die? Did you not do enough to save them?"

Second thing that bothers me is that I knew this young woman for a split second on the time line of my life. Truth is I have wondered about her and her brother for years. I remember being nice to her. I think generally I was a nicer person then. But I am sorely convicted that had I tried to be winsome throughout my life, I might have really influenced some young woman when it mattered. It didn't take much to impress her. I assure you, I have never been a super-hero, I'm more of a super zero.

That's the point I want to drive home for you, my three readers. Being winsome doesn't cost much but the payoffs could be eternal. I am sort of glad to have the chance to reconnect with this young woman and maybe it's not too late to teach Aunt Curtis how to get along with others.

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