Christened Sheila Deborah, Nicknamed Debs. No problem right? Well not for the first 4 years of my life anyway. Off to school to be educated by the nuns, that is when the nickname became a problem. The nuns did not allow that I be called by my nickname Debs, I had to be called by my first given name Sheila! The first day that I recall in school was the trouble I had with answering to the name Sheila. I went home at the end of the day informing my mother that “they don’t know my name” they keep calling me Sheila! Your name is Sheila, mother replied.  I was told I had been given my maternal grandmothers name to honor her. Well that was the first I had even heard my grandmothers birth name, to me she was Cork gran. Given the name Cork because she lived in county Cork (Ireland) to distinguish her from my dad’s mum from county Tipperary who was just called granny.   The friends I made in school always called me Sheila while my beloved family always call me Debs. Down through the years I have been called Debs, Sheila and Debbie and last but not least Debra.  I don’t know about anyone else’s struggles with nicknames and legal given name, but it has been an interesting journey for me. My mother visited me here in Canada some years ago, she stayed for five glorious fun weeks. Close to the end of mother’s visit to Canada, one day she leaned into me and whispered, “it is not Debbie, it is not Debra, it is Deborah” (Deb-bor-ah) My reply was “well mother if anyone knows you do” so from that day on in honour of my mother and dear friend I always introduce myself as De-bor-ah and the fun goes on.

Deborah Murphy