Pressler Edwin Wyatt. It feels like a big name for someone so small. But here he is, our baby boy, Press, already almost 1 month old.
Early in my pregnancy, Bryan and I spent hours considering a long list of girl’s names. We were so sure our baby was a girl! But when we found out we were having a boy, our naming decision was made easy, because we only had one boy name on our list: Pressler.
My grandpa, Thomas Pressler, has been one of the most powerful influences in my life. He loved writing and reading and encouraged my sisters and me to pursue the same passions.
When I was in elementary school, he asked me if I’d like to write a book with him. He lived just outside of Chicago, and I lived in Michigan, so we’d mail the book back and forth, each taking turns continuing the story where the other had left off. He let me pick the topic, saying we could write about whatever I wanted, so I stapled together a stack of computer paper and titled the book “Baby’s,” carefully writing the name across the top of the cover and drawing a picture of a drooling baby underneath. We mailed the book back and forth to each other, writing and drawing about babies and the adventures they’d go on. Grandpa never did correct my misspelled title.
I have so many great memories of my grandpa. Him taking my sisters and me shopping for new dresses every year. Him taking us to the bank to open up our very first savings accounts. Him teaching us that, if you can afford it, it’s ok to spend a little money to treat yourself every once in awhile. Him skipping the famous Chicago Bulls NBA Championship Three-Peat game to attend my sister’s dance recital.
Though Grandpa’s last name was Pressler, we never called him that. To my sisters and me, he was Grandpa M&M because, for as long as we could remember, every time we visited him, he’d give us each a bag of M&Ms. He even kept a small M&M machine, like a gumball machine, on the desk in his study, and my sisters and I would sneak in and eat handfuls of M&Ms when we thought no one was looking. Grandpa M&M insisted that the yellow M&Ms tasted the best, so we’d rip open our bags and sort our candies by color, setting aside the yellow ones for him. To this day, I still eat my M&Ms by color, always saving the yellows for last.
Grandpa M&M got cancer and passed away when I was in 8th grade. His illness seemed to come and take him so quickly. There have been so many times since then that I’ve wished my grandpa was still around. I wish he would have met Bryan. They would have loved each other. I wish he was around to see me working as a writer. I know he’d be proud of that. I wish he was still here to meet my son, his great-grandson.
Grandpa M&M was my mom’s stepdad. He and my Grandma had a son of their own, my mom’s half-brother, Derek Pressler. He also passed away decades ago from Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma when he was only 22. Far too young. I was young then, too. Too young to know him well, but I do remember always thinking he was the coolest person I’d ever met.
When Uncle Derek moved out of my grandparents’ house, he left behind a closet full of stuff – games, clothes, a rubber chicken for some reason, and other miscellaneous teenage things. When I’d visit my grandparents, I’d spend hours playing in Uncle Derek’s closet. I would try on his jackets while I snooped through his belongings. He loved Billy Joel, and I still think of him every time I hear a Billy Joel song.
So, my boy Pressler. His name is more than just a name his dad and I liked. It’s an homage to two important men in my life: Thomas and Derek. It’s a legacy my baby boy gets to carry on. May he grow up to be as generous, kind, passionate, and well-read as my grandpa and my uncle were. And may he feel, now and all through his life, that he’s got two guardian angels – his namesakes – always looking over him.