What’s in A Name?
My sister and I are named for our grandmother and great-grandmother respectively. Lizzie for our grandmother Elizabeth and me for our great-grandmother Clarissa Suejane. I have always envied Lizzie her name because it has so many options, or so I thought (and still do), to be called from the name Elizabeth. When she became an adult, Lizzie insisted on being called Elisabeth with emphasis on the ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’, but she is and forever will be Lizzie to me … as our grandmother was to her family and friends.
Now … Clarissa gave me no options. At least my mother had the presence of mind to name me Clarissa Jane rather than Suejane … and I so wanted everyone to call me Jane. My mother refused under no uncertain terms to allow me to use only Jane. Her reasoning was that some people are so means as to make fun of the name Jane … and didn’t want me called “Just Jane” or “Plain Jane”… so Clarissa it was.
In my teens I read Silence of the Lambs and ever time I wrote my name I saw Clarice and the horrors of that damned book. And yes, despite my mother’s best intentions, I was teased about my name … Clarissa in connection to that damned book. The teasing became torture when the movie was released and I saw Jodie Foster’s face every time I wrote my name.
In college, I decided to hell with my name and all the problems is caused me and went simply by my initials – CJ. It fit me … Clarissa was just too fancy … or terrifying depending upon how you reacted to it and Jane … well … it was too plain – sometimes mothers are right after all.
So … CJ it was for 4 years of undergrad and way too many years at the graduate level as I tried to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. Of course my mother would never call me anything but Clarissa or Clarissa Jane in a moment of anger or frustration as Southern parents are bred to do … even when I became an adult.
Somewhere along the way I eventually did become Jane … much to my mother’s chagrin. Just as CJ fit me during those post high school, looking for something days … anything to define who I was … now as a 40 something, Jane is who I have become.
Funny how a name either is or is not a person. Lizzie became Elisabeth when she decided Lizzie or Elizabeth (too common a spelling) did not fit her personal image of the corporate lawyer she wanted to be. That was Lizzie. Always had a plan and a timeline for getting to her goal. Yes, she is an extremely successful corporate lawyer … not sure she is really happy though. (that folks is another story)
Then there was me … always … Plain Jane … who stumbled through life until I finally realized that all I ever wanted to do was write … oh not to be a writer of novels or poetry … no, but to be a journalist … work for a newspaper or maybe a magazine. Give me a topic and I can crank out 800 – 1000 words with no problem. Ask me to come up with a story line and follow through with a plot to an eventual novel … not a chance.
So, here I sit in my humble little office – of sorts – at the local newspaper entering copy for the weekly edition. There are the usual local events to cover … football, basketball, etc. depending upon the season and the success of the local team and/or athletes and coaches. The ‘who’s getting married to who’ and when. Pictures and brief copy about the first kill during deer season … that sort of thing. Those of you living in small town America know the kind of newspaper I mean … the one that is published weekly and usually comes out mid-week when the local grocery store changes the specials for shoppers. That must have on Wednesday always available at the check out lane.
But, today I have the difficult task of reporting on recent deaths and helping families with a tribute of their loved ones. This is getting to be more difficult as the years go by and the parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents of friends begin to leave this realm.
Even harder today, is that I have the task … no the honor … of writing about my mother. She lived a long and wonderful life and I have recounted her many attributes. But, this is ‘my’ mother I am writing about and I want it to be special … even though she told me one time a few years ago that she didn’t want any flowered-up nonsense when she died.
So here I sit, Just Jane, with tears running down my cheeks, fogging up my glasses trying to do just that. Everyone knew her, loved her, and will miss her as a neighbor, friend, Sunday school teacher, and community volunteer who was always there for any project or activity needing an extra hand. Her favorite was anything that allowed her to visit with what we in the South call ‘shut-ins’ and hopefully brighten their day in her special way. How can I tell people about her in a bland, cold calculated manner of most obits … she is my mother and to her I was always Clarissa because she loved me as she loved her grandmother?
Maybe it is time for me to change my byline to Clarissa Jane to honor two grand ladies in my life.
Copyright © 2016 Annie Original Poetry
Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
As Ever, Annie