I used to hate it when people called me “Lorna Caye”. I didn’t see any reason for the inclusion of my middle name. I didn’t want to be compared to those “Barbara Ann”, “Brenda Jo”, “Marie Sue” names (all of which were names held by family members). My mother’s side of the family, in particular, called me by both names. As a child I had a major affliction against this. To me, being called by two names was hillbilly, patronizing, and more than anything, annoying. I wanted to be taken seriously. I was intelligent, driven, and proper. I loved using words adults didn’t know, and relished in the moments when grown-ups told me how mature and well-versed I was…and I was a little shit about it. I had a thirty year old mind (a pretentious thirty), trapped in an eight year old body. I was not salt of the Earth, and didn’t want to be confused as such. I was far above having two names…so I thought at the time.
Though my mouth, which was always flapping, seemed to run a smoke screen for my immaturity, my niavety really cannot be denied when I look back on it. I was so hellbent on trying to be whom I wanted to be, that I forgot to be proud of the person I was and the people I came from. The “Caye” is my name meant a lot more than I realized. My grandfather, who passed away in 2007, was named Lloyd Cecil. His initials were “L.C.” like mine. That’s why my parents spelled my middle name with a “C” instead of a “K” (which I had always found strange until this discovery).
My grandfather was an incredible man. I’ve never run across anyone who didn’t like him. It was impossible not to love him actually. He wasn’t without flaws by any stretch. To say he was hot under the collar is an under-statement. He once hit a man in the jaw in the middle of a basketball game for not calling his own fouls properly. He started smoking when he was 5 years old and never stopped. This, coupled with his addiction the fried food did nothing for his health, but he didn’t mind. He didn’t care about his flaws; he was just jolly and loved to laugh. He was about 5’7, with at least 200 pounds of his weight in his belly and wore jet black cherokee hair on his head until the day he died. He had an undeniable presence about him everywhere he went and was the definition of fun-loving. He square danced as hard as he could go even if he didn’t remember all the steps, and had to swim in the ocean as soon as we arrived at the beach even if the sun had already gone down. When friends were over at his house to play cards he would beg for just one more game even if it was approaching dawn. For him there were no bed times, no priorities bigger than having a good time, and no reasons to ever feel embarassed. He was salt of the Earth if anyone ever had been. There were few summers I was ever at his house when he wasn’t wearing watermelon juice on his white undershirt. There were never any Christmases he wasn’t wearing a cheap K-mart Santa Claus beard, bouncing the youngest grandchild on his knee singing “Up on the House Top” slightly off key. He wasn’t ashamed of who he was or where he came from. He never tried to pretend he didn’t grow-up in a little red house that barely missed shack, sharing all but his undies with eleven brothers and sisters. He revered his heritage and family above all else. I am proud to have two first names as far as the Penland side of family is concerned and will never correct anyone again for calling me by both of them. I am Lorna Caye because I am “L.C.”, like Papaw would call me, pleased with the fact I had his initials. There’s a big piece of that rotund, onyx-headed, Cherokee man inside this little Irish-looking girl. I may not have gotten his looks, but I got his name in a round about way, and I could not possibly be more proud of being Lorna Caye because that name has left me with a part of my grandfather nature cannot force me to give up.