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This post originally appeared on my “What Is a Dad” blog.

It’s a girl.

And I’m so excited. It’s pretty amazing to think that, a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know whether or not she was going to be a he or a she. She is a she. :-) And that’s alright with me. I’m so happy actually. I think I gave MK a high five when we saw the sonogram.

I’m just excited to be a dad in general, but to have a girl represents such a mystery to me that I can’t hardly contain my excitement. Her name will be Evelyn Rita Mannino. Evelyn Courchene is Mary Kate’s “nannie’s” name. Rita Mannino is my “grandma’s” name. I love that we are honoring two wonderful women– two deeply caring women who are overcomers and have great senses of humor.

If I had to pick a favorite from MK’s side of the family, it would have to be “Nannie” (but I still love everyone else too!) :-) But there’s just something about the enthusiasm that she has had for me and Mary Kate from the beginning that has been so genuine. I’m pretty sure I met her first. She answered the door the night that I picked up Mary Kate for our first date. It was Christmas time, and I was wearing a red sweater. And she’ll always remind MK about how she remembers “Paul in his red sweater.” I’ve enjoyed getting to know this tough Texan lady who loves reading, laughing, and tearing up when she reminds me every time I see her that she prayed for her Shuggie (pronounced like the first syllable of “sugar”) to find a good Christian husband. She’s fun. I hope Evelyn (or “Evie”, pronounced “eevee”) will have half her spirit.

Evelyn & Mary Kate (I"ve always like this picture)

The other half’s got to go to my Grandma though. Rita Mannino was another tough cookie. I’ve missed her since 1997 when she passed away from cancer. I wish Mary Kate could have met her. I wish she could have been there at our wedding. She was a great listener (you had to be with a kid who talked as much as me), loved sports (cussing at the TV if a team scored against the New York Rangers or got a hit off a Mets pitcher), and loved me. I just remember growing up at Grandma and Grandpa’s and loving every chance I could get to be there. She had a quiet faith in God and me, and I could sense both. I loved that she would drop an Italian cuss-word when she dropped something and then tell me that “oh, Paulie, that was just a little town in Italy.” Clever, Grandma, clever.

Mom, me, Grandpa, Grandma, and Vinnie on the day I graduated high school

I think Evelyn Rita Mannino has some wonderful namesakes. She was named on purpose. She’s got that Buchanan and Gray (their maiden name’s, respectively) blood running through her veins right now even in her mama’s womb. And that’s a cool thing.


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