Georgette, a K. Smith parent – My Name, My Identity Series

mynamemyid.png The meaning of Georgette is a fine, transparent material used in dressmaking, Or “Giver of the Land”.

I was given my name from my mother Elaine. She wanted to name me after my paternal Grandmother Georgia. So, her and my father named me “Georgette”.

Often growing up, I hated my name and I often wondered why my mother named me Georgette. It was hard to say, it was hard to spell, and we were NOT French! We are of German decent from my mother’s side; she was a Schultz (You can’t get any more German than that) . Mexican from my father’s side “Jesus Santiago “Narvaes”. Whom everyone in the family calls James or Jimmy.

My mother and my father met in the 50’s at a time when interracial dating was a “No No”. A Mexican, with a German, unheard of in the 50’s. My father came from a hard working migrant family who settled in Chicago.

My mother, who lost both her parents at a very young age, she was 2, lost her mother in childbirth of her sister. At the

age of 3, she lost her father to a heart attack and was raised by her older brothers and sisters. My mother was a very elegant, prim and proper woman who graduated from a finishing school for girls. (Picture, June Cleaver, Leave it to Beaver). My father was a hard working “Bad Boy” gang member, kicked out of three high schools. They were the “Tony and Maria” (Westside Story) or the “Lucy and Ricky” (I love Lucy) or Sandy and Danny from Grease but, they were in love and unstoppable. Against all odds, they were married and had their first daughter named Deborah in the late 50’s. Six years later I came. I was born Georgette.

Growing up, I hated my name. Most of my relatives could not say “Georgette” ( The Mexican side) they would say Yo Yett, or Yo Yaa, or Yett or even worse, they would say “Hor Hetta”. This would make furious but still I always answered.

On my mother’s side I was called George, Georgie or even Georgie Girl (after the movie Georgie Girl ) was released. When my mother was upset it was “GEORGETTE! Often people who could not say my name would call me Rachael, Bridgett, Georgia Gorgett, nowadays, my boys call me mom…I love that name most.

I called my mother Elaine mom, or “MOTHER” when I was annoyed. In the 80’s I started calling my mother “Sophia”

after the actress Estelle Getty from the Golden Girls, for she was a little feisty lady who was about 4’11 and weighed about 100 pounds wet. I would tease my Sophia as she aged that I was going to put her in the imaginary rest home from the show called “Shady Pines”.

Well, the nursing home became a reality as my mother was diagnosed with Cancer and as she became worse and I could no longer care for her at home, I made the difficult decision to place her in a Facility that could care for her round the clock. As we were checking her in, she turned to me and asked in a feisty voice, “Is this SHADY PINES? I said “No way mom,” this place is more like the Hilton than Shady Pines” Before my “Sophia” passed we had time to talk about things and she wanted to talk about the time when I turned 18 and I wanted to change my name. She said she knew that I hated my name and that it was difficult for others to say or spell and that I was gracious enough to answer to almost anything I was called, she said Gretchen, Gretel, Bridgett, Rachael, and Georgia. We busted up laughing at the Gretel name and we laughed until we cried. She said, “ She had made the right decision to name me “Georgette” because I was Fine, Transparent and Delicate… I laughed OUTLOUD like LOL, LOL, as tears ran down my cheeks I said mom, I am not delicate, there is nothing delicate about me, I said I

am a rough and tough mom, and I am very strong willed. My mom said, “ yes you are rough and tough and strong willed, but your heart is fragile and it’s easily torn, therefore, you and your strong will can carry the “Georgette”

My “Sophia” passed two months later on Valentine’s Day. My only wish is to be able to hear her say Georgette one more time.


Take a minute to register and take the My Name My Id pledge.

I, _______________ , do hereby affirm my commitment to the My Name, My Identity Campaign by pledging to

Show respect to others’ names and identities in schools by pronouncing students’ names correctly

Be a model for students by sharing information and resources about showing respect to others’ names and identities

Spread the word about the importance of respecting others’ names and identities

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Be proud of who I am and celebrate our differences

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