You're a Good Wife, Edna
Butch was all about nicknames and numeric codes.
His license plate said Chtub, which he would say was his tribal name as a Potawatomi Indian. It took people a long time to realize it was a mutation of Butch backwards. I loved it when the light dawned and people realized they had been snookered.
While away in the Army in the early seventies, he began adding 1434 to his signature. (Text equivalent would be I Love You More). It became a permanent fixture for us both, added to greeting cards, text messages and written in incidental places like the dirt on the back of the car or the steam on the bathroom mirror.
Butch's given name was Austin, after his father. Typical of the 1950's, his family called him Butch. Since I met him in school, he was Austin to me, our friends, and my family. He was also Austin at work. At some point in the 1980's or so, he announced that Austin was his father and he preferred to be called Butch. I randomly began calling him George.
He launched a search for just the right nickname for me. We had just seen the movie "The Out of Towners" about an ill-fated couple named George and Edna who were visiting New York City from some small town in mid America. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It was hysterical to watch but would not have been funny to experience. The very next day, we watched a NyQuil commercial in which the husband was bedridden with a terrible cold and his wife nurtured him by giving him NyQuil to soothe his symptoms. Sounding like a little boy whose mommy had just given back his long lost Teddy Bear, the husband announced, "You're a Good Wife, Edna." That sealed it. My nickname became Edna.
He loved to call places where I was (like a shower or other event he was not attending) and ask for Edna Mae Schwartz. I would hear the hostess saying there was no one there named Edna and everyone would snicker as I announced that I was Edna Mae Schwartz. Not having enough names, he often signed greeting cards as Elmer P. Schwartz.
It has been over a year now since anyone called me Edna. It wasn't that I preferred Edna to Barbara. It was just a tiny piece of our history as us. A tiny memorial on our journey together. One more piece of me that doesn't exist anymore without him. I know I should change my various email addresses and usernames that incorporated Edna or 1434 or both. It seems so silly that it should matter. But I think I will keep that piece of him and of me for awhile longer.
The work of becoming us without them means we need to learn our new name, the name God gave us. We will need to look for the love notes that God leaves us.
I think I need more time before I can let go of my identity as the recipient of 1434 and all that was embedded in its use.
Maybe next year.............