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Name

January 16, 2012

As the day of the third anniversary of Don’s passing draws closer, more memories of our life together emerge, sometimes lighting my eyes with joy and other times blurring them with tears.

It occurs to me that Don never called me “Darling,” “Sweetie,” “Honey” . . .  or any of those appellations commonly used between loved ones. He never said anything but “Dai Sil” when he called me. I loved hearing my name in his grainy voice but never contemplated its significance.

While I was in Tuscany, Italy last fall, I was introduced to a woman from Switzerland. Upon hearing my name, she squinted her eyes and wrinkled her nose, trying to repeat my name. She finally declared, “It is complicated!”

Later in my room, I remembered a situation in Boston where I landed in 1962 for graduate studies. My housemates tried to say my name. They did not declare it complicated, but after a while, some suggested the change of my name from ‘Dai Sil” to “Daisy.” Close enough to the sound of my real name. Besides, I loved daisies for their simple, unassuming beauty. But I responded, “Names are given with love for keeps. I know daisies are beautiful, but I am not a daisy. I am Dai Sil. My parents were proud to attach ‘Dai’ to a girl’s name. Traditionally, it’s only used as the initial portion of a boy’s name.” I recall my teary voice when I said this.

My Boston friends listened and embraced what I said with grace. They all learned to say it, some with a Boston accent, others with a lilting Southern accent. Music flowed through me whenever I heard my name said correctly.

Daisies (by DSK-G)

Don did not insist on calling me only by name. He just did it naturally–I now know–because to him Dai Sil stood for a singular woman whom he loved, who was distinct from anyone or anything in the world.

Dai Sil

P.S. Come to think of it, I only called him “Don,” other than at times when I was teasing him.

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