I don’t remember the first time I was called GiGi, but according to my mother it first started when my baby brother was learning to talk.
When I was two or three years old, I generally referred to myself as “Paigie.” As my brother learned to talk, he began call out to me, “Gi! Gi!”
Mom said I would put my hands on my hips and say in a very agitated sort of way, “My name no Gi! My name Paige-GI!”
My mother thought it was a cute nickname, but I hated it. No matter how hard she tried to convince me, I refused to be okay with having GiGi as a nickname.
Eventually, no one called me GiGi anymore.
The first time I met Jon’s girls, he introduced me as “Mrs. Paige.” We ate lunch together in a crowded Chik-Fil-A restaurant. Maddie, the oldest, wearing a mismatched outfit complete with a baseball cap pulled to the side, talked a mile a minute. Megan, the younger one, wore a dress and a glittery headband, clung to her Daddy’s arm. I couldn’t tell if it was from insecurity or fear.
As we sat down to eat our lunches, Maddie asked her dad if she could go get some condiments for her sandwich and fries. He gave permission. She left the table. Then five steps later, she turned around and came back to the table, flashed the most brilliant smile I’ve ever seen, and then asked if she could get anyone else something while she was up.
Afterward, when I commented on Maddie’s sweet consideration of others, Jon confessed to me, “Well, I have to admit she completely stunned me! The girl has been listening to my lectures on manners after all!”
Megan, who sat cuddled up to Jon, occasionally smiled shyly at me, but mostly she was quiet, allowing her father and older sister to do all the talking.
That was in October. I wouldn’t see his girls again until the last day of 2009.
It was the New Year’s Eve I had no plans. Always before, I had somewhere to go, something to do, a person to be with … but not in 2009. It looked like I would be spending the day completely alone.
Jon found out about my lack of plans as we talked late into the night on December 30th. “Are you sure you have no where to go? Maybe your parents …”
“No,” I replied. “They have gone to visit with my grandmother for a couple of days. They will come in late tomorrow evening, but I know they will be too tired from traveling to want to entertain me. It’s okay … I’ll just watch a movie or read a book.”
“Well, I don’t like the idea of you being alone on New Year’s Eve,” Jon stated. “You could come hang out with me and my girls … but I would have to okay it with them since they we planned a few special things to celebrate. They are already in bed, so I’ll ask in the morning and give you a call to let you know if they approve.”
The next morning, Jon called me bright and early, just as he had promised. “Maddie definitely wants you to come, but Megan isn’t so sure. She would like to talk to you about it first, if that’s okay.”
The next thing I know, this small voice came on the phone. “Mrs. Paige, my daddy said you don’t have anywhere to go today. Is that true?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Oh. So dad is right.” There was a small pause. Then Megan continued, “Well, Daddy says it would be a nice thing if we invited you. But I’m worried that if you come, then I will be left out.”
“Oh, Megan … I don’t want to take you away from your Daddy. Maybe it is better if I don’t come visit today after all, especially if it is going to make you feel anxious. Maybe you and your dad talk about it some more? It’s okay if you decide to say no.”
I quietly hung up the phone, figuring perhaps Jon would call me back in a few minutes, after he had talked more with Megan. I felt like he would confirm what I assumed was going to be the result of that discussion, that his girls needed him more than I needed a place to go so it would be better for everyone if I didn’t join them for New Year’s Eve.
And I was right … well, right about the phone ringing. Everything else I had gotten wrong.
The person calling me back turn out to be Megan.
“Mrs. Paige,” she said. “I have decided that I want you to come visit us today. If I were all alone on New Year’s Eve, I would want someone to invite me to visit. Besides, my daddy promised that I will definitely not be left out.”
“Megan, I promise you that too.”
Later that day, I showed up to Jon’s with my craft box in tow. The girls and I made a few fun crafts together, bonding over paint and hot glue guns. Later on, we went out for dinner, going to a Mexican restaurant that had a huge buffalo head hanging on the wall. As we walked passed the buffalo, Megan held tightly to my hand.
I had no idea that exactly one year to the day I would become Mrs. Jon Hamilton.
Shortly after Jon and I were married, I asked him if his girls could call me by another name,
“Mrs. Paige just sounds too formal,” I said.
“Okay … what do you suggest?” Jon asked.
“Maybe we could let the girls decide what to call me,” I said.
But a week passed by and neither girl could come up with an idea that suited everyone. Finally, Jon asked, “Did you have a nickname growing up?”
“Not really,” I replied. “Though my brother tried to give me a nickname. My mother said it made angry every time he called me it, so eventually no one called me that name anymore.”
Both Megan and Maddie perked up. “What was the nickname?” one of them asked, eager to hear what sort of name would make me mad.
And so I told them the story … and then said, “But you know, being called GiGi wouldn’t make me feel angry now. In fact, I’d like it very much.”
So that’s how I came to be known as GiGi … and not just to Jon’s beautiful girls, but also to our foster children.
I’ve gone by many names in my life. Paige and GiGi are just two. I’m called Mom, Aunt Paige, and Mrs. Hamilton. There are people who even call me by my first name, Angela. And I answer to them all.
However, if you call me something like Margaret or Allison or Bob, I am not going to respond. You see, I have many names, but those names do not belong to me.
Sometimes people say that it doesn’t matter what name you call God, for there are many ways to call upon Him.
That’s only partly true.
God does have many names. He is called Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, and the Bread of Life. He is known as the Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace. He is the Great I Am. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Jesus Christ.
But you can’t just call God by any name …for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12).
Hallowed be Thy name. ~Matthew 6:9