Frances, Francis

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Dear Pope Francis,

Congratulations on your new post! I love the name you picked, after Saint Francis. The city I live near, San Francisco, is named for him too.  And, just like you, I am named after a great Francis, my dad. He had a flock of seven, nothing like the size flock you are about to lead.

With such responsibility, I wanted to present to you an helpful gift, from one Frances/Francis to another. It's not an easy life having our name. I'll give you the insider's take.

First, you will get a nickname. A Frances/Francis rarely stays Frances/Francis. My dad went by Frank or Fran. My family chose mine, Francie. My older brother chose the nickname to my nickname, Francie Pants. Your buddies will most likely pick yours, so I do hope you have kind friends. Regardless, I say embrace the names, they come with love.

Secondly, if you need an introduction, it's best to help the acquaintance out. Try, "Hi. I'm Pope Francis, like the Saint." People hear what they want to hear so don't be put off if you are called something not even remotely close. I'm often called Francine, Betsy or Marcy. I try to nip it in the bud with, "Hi. I'm Francie, like Nancy." Be patient. Eventually the right name catches on.


The last tip is the most important. Your name will be misspelled, a lot. Any Francis/Frances male or female knows exactly what I mean. The secret: a female Frances is spelled with an "e" like her. A male Francis is spelled with an "i" like him. Our gender can change with just a flick of a letter. The constant errant spelling and the rarity of our names is an instant bond should our paths ever cross. Pope Francis, you have friends you didn't even know you had.

On behalf of Team Francis/Frances, I hope as our newest member you will help set the record straight. Make a big deal every once in awhile about spelling our name correctly, enough so word gets around. I suggest you focus on historians and journalists. If they don't get it right, a Jesuit pope from the Americas will seem like nothing compared to a pope who is female.

With a Perspective, I'm Francie Low.

Francie Low is a mother of teens and writes a humor blog.