As we were driving back from Atlanta, TBB called her mom.
“Yeah, Callie is right here,” I heard her say.
“My mother decides on names for people,” she said after she hung up. “And she has decided that you are Callie. Sorry.”
“Oh, that’s no problem,” I replied. “Lots of people call me Callie. It’s just the diminutive of Callan, and I think it’s pretty.”
We had the discussion about name origins at Tuesday’s dinner with TBB’s mom. So many of us choose names we like and then find that they tell something about us, like Diane, who chose Sofia, the feminine name for wisdom, like St. Sofia’s in Istanbul. “Crap!” she said, when told of the meaning.
We has found out that TBB’s name is Italian and means “from the border” Lookie there. Callan is the feminine for “powerful in battle,” and if I knew that, I would have thought twice, never liking the Les Fienberg “Transgender Warriors” theme, let alone it being a Scottish form of my father’s name. In German Callan seems to relate to “chatter.” Do I chatter on? On the other hand, Callie seems to come from the greek root of beautiful, “kallos”, like Calla in Calla Lillies, and some have noted its similarity to Kali, the name of a goddess with a long and complex history in Hinduism.
I was moved at SCC when the twenty year old son of a friend, who remembers me from when he was about six, offered me a small bottle of wine he had been given by another kid. He likes me, you see, because I seem to listen to him, to be trying to help. The wine felt like having an animal dropped on my doorstep by a cat, an offering of what they have in respect.
The gift of gracious receiving
is one of the greatest gifts
we can give anyone.
Mister Fred Rogers
It was at that same table when I talked to a young and beautiful gal who was going to SF to head a project on the children of transpeople. Not transkids, but the kids of trannys. Her father transitioned when she was about 17, and she not only lost a parent, she gained a competitor in the family, also trying to claim feminine power.
I talked about my friend’s kid, and what he had gone through, and she said to me “You are a good aunt!”
Now, I’ll admit I may have set that up some, but it’s meaningful to me, just like when Dame Lezlie, mother of three teenagers, tells me “you would be a great mother.”
It is a joy I have, being Aunt Callie, and I am pleased that the kids seem to see that part of me quickly and easily, unlike those like TBB, who kept calling me “he” until stopped by Dr. J. Kids just place me in one of the pockets they have for grown-ups, their own challenges not really the key. They get that I am a mom, though not their mom, and their word for that often is “aunt.”
If I could have had babies after, I would have had surgery years ago. But it takes away any possibility of having babies even the male way, another reason to resist, even if I know that I wouldn’t be good as the father.
We know what we know, and I know that my maternal instinct is strong.
“Aunt Callie,” indeed.