By Sister Nancy Linenkugel, OSF
A visiting speaker from an east coast university had the first name “Nancy”. She and I got acquainted during an event reception in which we were both sporting stick-on name tags that said, “Nancy”. “I’ve never met a Nancy I didn’t like,” I said as we shook hands. “There aren’t that many of us around anymore, because Nancy has been replaced with more popular names like Ashley and Jennifer and Emily,” guest Nancy said. “Did you always hate your name? I mean, didn’t you always think about Nancy as a name that fit a little girl but sounded juvenile for an older woman?”
“Not really,” I responded. “My mom wanted to name me Brenda, but once dad took a look at me, he decided I was a Nancy. I actually like my name.” “How many famous Nancies do you know?” she went on. Hmmm…we started thinking together out loud. “There was first lady Nancy Reagan.” “There’s singer Nancy Sinatra. And don’t forget the song that Frank Sinatra sang to his daughter, “Nancy, With the Laffin’ Face.” I liked the way he sang the word laffin’ instead of laughing.”
We kept going. We came up with politician Nancy Pelosi, TV legal show host Nancy Grace, skater Nancy Kerrigan, singer Nancy Wilson, mystery-solver Nancy Drew, TV star Nancy McKeon, golfer Nancy Lopez, TV physician Nancy Snyderman, and Nancy Kulp who played Jane Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies.
By then a couple more persons joined in the discussion and said, “Why are you racking your brains to think of this? Just Google it and you’ll find all kinds of Nancies.” “Oh, we couldn’t do that,” guest Nancy said in horror. “Our list has to be only Nancies we’ve heard of.” “Then what about the TV commercials showing spender Nancy verbally duking it out with budget Nancy? Or the person pouring a new thicker bleach formulation into the washing machine while wearing a fancy dress—her name is Nancy.” There you go. We’re everywhere.
I don’t know which of us thought of it first, but we looked at each other and said simultaneously, “Nurse Nancy!” Of course. We each had the Nurse Nancy child’s book; it was a Golden Book with many pictures, easy words, and, the best part, a real band aid was glued to the inside back cover. Guest Nancy said, “Well, a lot of good that book did—neither of us became nurses. Besides my dad wondered why Nancy in the book didn’t become a doctor instead. She could have served lots more folks as a physician.”
“True. And don’t forget the Nancy comic strip by Ernie Bushmiller. Remember her?” I say. “She was a chubby girl in a plaid skirt who had black hair shaped like a helmet. Aunt Fritzi and friend Sluggo rounded out the characters.” What Nancy could forget that? On Sundays when the funny papers were in color, dad would make me reflect on the Nancy comic and tell him the lesson that Nancy learned that day. Nancy first appeared in the comics in 1933 and she’s still being drawn today, thanks to Nashville cartoonist Guy Gilchrist who took over the comic strip in 1995.
Guest Nancy and I had a fun conversation, although others quickly drifted away disinterestedly. I guess you had to be a Nancy to appreciate it. We kept thinking of more Nancies. I said, “We have four sisters in our congregation named Nancy. Do they count?” “Are you one of them?” guest Nancy asked. “Indeed I am,” I responded, nodding my head. “Well, then yes, of course, they count,” she affirmed.
Later when I got near a computer I did some checking. Did you know you can go to the website www.howmanyofme.com and find out how many people have your first or last name? There are 1,082,146 persons in the USA named Nancy, making it the 35th most popular name.
So how wonderful to be named Nancy. What a solid, memorable, and noteworthy name. I’ll bet you’d like to have participated in our conversation appreciating Nancies. That’s a Franciscan sort of thing to do.