When I was in 7th grade, I met another Sandra, and she spelled Sandy with an “ie” instead of a “y”… Sandie. Ohhhh, I thought that was soooo cool. (As only an excitable 7th grader can.) After Sandie and I became friends, I told her (I’m sure with lots of envy in my voice) how neat I thought it was that she used a unique spelling for Sandy. So (and here’s probably one of the reasons that we became good friends), she suggested a way that I could spell my “Sandy” differently too…Sandi. Wonderful! Now I was “cool” too! So, from then on I was known as “Sandi”. And I loved having a unique way of spelling my name.
Then after Hubby and I married and had our two small children, when I was about 25 years old, Hubby’s younger brother Keith began dating a new teacher at our Lutheran grade school who had just moved here from Iowa, and her name was Sandra too…annnnd, she spelled her nickname “Sandi”!
Well, you guessed it…Keith married “Sandi”. Thus began a long and sometimes complicated relationship between two sisters-in-law who had exactly the same name (yes, our middle name is Kay), including spelling our nickname, Sandi.
Looking back it is amazing to me that one or the other of us didn’t at least start spelling our nickname some other way right then, but we didn’t and I can only guess that we didn’t think it would be that big a deal — after all, she was a teacher and I was a secretary. It wasn’t like we were ever going to work together!
Well, what we couldn’t have predicted was how confusing it was going to be to share your exact same name with your sister-in-law, made just that much more confusing by sharing our nickname too.
Twice we lived on the same street. Luckily, both of those streets were on the mail route of a very special man named “Marv” who was the most conscientious mail carrier I have ever known. So Marv was always very careful not to mix up our mail.
We have also found out over the years that it’s best if we avoid sharing doctors. Did I mention that both of our birthday’s are also in May? So, that makes it just that much more likely that someone in a doctor’s office will see the name, glance at the birthday and just see “May”, and assume they have the right person. We memorably learned this lesson when a person at the office of a doctor we both went to, called and left her test results on our answering machine!
The way Hubby’s family always differentiated between us is that they hyphenated our names with our husbands. They called us Sandi-Keith and Sandi-Jim. That worked pretty well. And if we both belonged to an organization, they would use that way to keep us straight too.
Luckily, Sandi and I have always liked each other, so that lessened any tension that could have been caused by sharing our name.
But when I retired four years ago, I decided that was the time to make a change. After all, it was a time of lots of changes in my life anyway, why not my name too? My thinking was that now I didn’t work in an office where I had always been known as Sandi so I wouldn’t have to explain over and over that I had changed the way I spelled my name.
So now I am either Sandra or Sandy. And I am perfectly happy with either of those names. And I realize now that for all those years, Sandi and I had just a little extra unreachable “itch” while dealing with the confusion our shared name caused, by also sharing our nickname. Well, now I feel like I’ve finally “scratched that itch” a little bit, and it feels good.
In a few weeks, Sandi will retire from teaching and I will be saying a few words at the program on behalf of the family. After all, which in-law could know her better than the one who shares her name?