Before There Was Sofie, There Was a Mouseketeer

My namesake recently passed away. Yes, before I hid my identity behind the nickname I was dubed in middle school, I was Annette, named after the Princess of Disney, Annette Funicello.

My mother, a contemporary of Annette Funicello, thought the actress was sweet and pretty. My father wanted to name me Theresa. (The "TH" is pronounced in his version.) And because Dad once had an old girlfriend named, Theresa, (pronounced with the "TH" in tact),  it was decided, I would be named after the Mouseketeer.

For years, substitute teachers took roll, calling for "Anita", "Arnette", "Antoinette", "Aleta", and "Lynnette" (which is kinda funny considering my name is "Annette Lynn"). That's okay. It's all good. I answer to any ol' thing. Heck, I answer to "Sofie" which is nothing like "Annette".

I would mumble back, "it's 'Annette' - like the Mouseketeer? That's two 'n's, two 't's, and two 'e's, not necessarily in that order."

Then at a family gathering about fifteen years ago, surrounded by my cousins, aunts and uncles who bear fabulous old names - Gladys, Emily, Robert, James, Emmett, Thomas, Elizabeth, Patricia, (yes, I have a lot of aunts and uncles), I was bemoaning the fact that I had been named after a television personality, rather than given a family name. That's when one of my aunt's piped up to correct me. "No you weren't. You were named after your grandmother, Ann. Annette is the diminuitive."

Do what?! You mean, all these years I thought I was named after the girl with big ears, I was really named after a family member? Another lovely person who did a bang up job of just being a really good person? But, but, but....

So I stopped telling people, "It's "Annette", like the Mouseketeer." And the number of people who still get that reference are waning anyway.

Then yesterday, I heard that Annette Funicello passed away, with her family at her side, following a long, debilitating relationship with Multiple Sclerosis. She was practically eclipsed by the news of Margaret Thatcher's death. Amidst the mixed reviews of one woman's politics, the other woman is being lauded for... being good, being a role model to thousands of teens.  I don't hear anyone giving mixed reviews about Annette Funicello. They all pretty much read the same - a good person, a mother first, a Mouseketeer second, a role model to thousands.

A girl could do WAY worse. I think hers is a pretty darn laudible aspiration!

So in honor of Ms. Funicello, I would like to say, "Hello. My name is Annette. I was named after my grandmother, Ann,... and the famous Mouseketeer."


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