“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”
William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 2. 1597.
Ultimate Photo *
- “What do you mean by that?” I asked her.
- “Well, wouldn’t that be simpler?”, she retorted. “It is quite confusing that you keep insisting on being called by your full first name, when you know quite well that people prefer monosyllabic names and nicknames.”
- “R-G is fine”, I muttered, “pronounced \’er-jā\”.
- “That’s two syllables and not everyone can roll RRRrrrs! You can’t swim against the tide all your life, you know? You will eventually get tired and give up.”
- “Watch me!”
As you can imagine, I have at least one version of such encounters weekly. Then why, might you ask, do I insist on being called by my full first name, “Rose-Gaëlle“?
It is quite simple, really: It is to honour the wonderful woman after whom I was named, Rose-Juliette M. Belinga, affectionately known as “Ma’a Rose”. In fact, she was such an amazing lady that my Great-Grand Mother — with whom I had the pleasure of practicing Deutsch almost every summer until my teens * — lacked the fortitude at over 92 to handle the harrowing news of her daughter-in-law’s passing.
I must add that hers was not the only legacy being honoured by that name preference. As a matter of fact, one of my Tantines (young aunts) was named after my Grand-Mother long before me and I can still vividly recall our last family Christmas celebration together. Even though I was hardly out of kindergarten and she a teenager, it did not stop her from wanting to spend quality time with the sickly child that I was, often hidden behind books and jigsaw puzzles. She had a limitless imagination, wonderful smile, great sense of humour, and selfless personality, despite her growing fatigue and weight loss, among other things.
The end of the school was fast approaching when we heard Mum shriek downstairs, having just returned from work. We hid in our room, thinking that she might have finally figured out that the large porcelain vase by the entrance had been super-glued back together days earlier, following a short-lived indoor football (soccer) game.
After regaining her composure in what seemed like an eternity later, she came into our room, had us sit down, and docilely explained to us that we would no longer see Tata Rose-Nadine M. Ndongo *. Not because she resided in another province, but was now in another “world”.
It took years for these news to sink in, as up to this point, we had neither encountered the concept of life and death, nor the reality that hospitals could not “repair” us when it came to Leukemia, unlike our frequent bouts of malaria.
Several years have since gone by and a multitude of breakthroughs have been made with respect to blood cancer research, such as immnuotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer. Furthermore,
Who could forget Emma’s moving story?
As the search for a cure continues to make strides, I am excited to be able to contribute by participating in the 2017 NYC Triathlon on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I also invite you to support our team’s page, through well-wishing thoughts and beneficence. You may not know it, but every single donation helps save a life. Thank you for helping us take a stand in the fight against cancer!
 Tata Nadine — indeed, she did not go by “Rose” either — was so camera-shy that this is the only recent photo of her that we could find when she passed away during her Senior year in High School.
 Kamerun was a German colony.
 Our family name is “Ndongo”. There is a long and interesting story behind why some of us ended up with “Belinga”, which will be covered in a future post.