When I was young, I absolutely hated my name. After all, no one in the late 70’s and early 80’s would ever give their daughter such an old-fashion name … unless, of course she was named after a well-known Catholic saint.

Nanay Emilia, Christmas 2007

Instead I wanted to be a Jenny. Or an Amy. Or … in my more “exotic” name choices (hey, I was 7 or 8 years old at the time!), I wanted to be called Rebecca or Genevieve; with a nickname like Becky or Ginny. I want to say that those two names came out of stories I had read from books I checked out of the library — yes, even then I was a bookworm!

At that time, I didn’t know anybody else with my name. Other than Emily Dickinson, I had never heard of another person — whether real or fiction — that shared my name. Of course now, there are waaay too many Emily’s in the world … but that’s beside the point.

It took until I was in high school until I truly began to love my name. It was different … and it stood out among the sea of other names in high school. Instead of being told I shared the same name as a friend’s grandmother or grand-aunt … I began to hear that I shared the name with their youngest sister or cousin.

But the real reason was because I was a namesake; I loved that I was named after both my grandmothers. My first name came from my paternal grandmother, Emilia (the same person which this little one was named after). And my middle name came from my maternal grandmother and my Mom; a story that was told in this previous post, when my maternal grandmother passed away.

I’ve probably told the story of my love/hate relationship with my name many times over; probably much to the detriment of Hubby, who gets to hear it every time I tell it. But today, there’s reason for me to repeat this story:

Today, the other half of my name; my Nanay Emilia passed away in the Philippines. While she hadn’t been acutely ill — didn’t have any immediately serious health issues — we had been expecting her departure for almost a year now. She’s just had way too many chronic illnesses for so many years.

There are two distinct memories I have of my Nanay Emilia; one of which I will save for another day — a special day. Instead, the memory I want to tell happened during my early grade school years. I can recall walking home from the bus stop after school and being bombarded by the scent of freshly deep-fried dough … you know, the kind that reminds you of elephant ears at a Midway carnival?

When I first got a whiff of that scent, I remember rushing home and throwing the front door open; all while tossing my book bag on the floor. That’s because I knew that Nanay Emilia was making Filipino buñuelos for my brother and me. I remember sitting at the kitchen counter, watching her make them. Then — as soon as they were sufficiently cooled — grabbing them from the plate, rolling them in sugar, and eating them as fast as she was making them. And I remember her smiling the entire time.

Ever since that day, I think of my Nanay whenever I encounter elephant ears at a Midway or freshly fried dough at a Chinese buffet. It reminds me of that day and how much fun we had making buñuelos in our kitchen.

Thanks for the memories, Nanay Emilia. Thanks for the love and the laughs we had together. I can’t imagine watching wrestling on a Saturday morning (back in the 80’s, of course) without you.

Oh and thanks for your nose. Because … Every. Single. One of your grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) have that trait in common with you.

I’ll miss you and love you forever. And I’m sure that Dad — your son — will be there to welcome you with open arms.

This was the last Christmas I spent with Nanay Emilia. She had gone home to live in the Philippines in the Fall of 2008.

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