in A Name?
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 think, to be called from the name Elizabeth. When she became an adult,
Lizzie insisted on being called Elisabeth with an ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’, but
she is and forever will be Lizzie to me … as our grandmother was known to
friends and family.
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.
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 to 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 … even when I became an adult.
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 … 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.
was me … 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 to an eventual novel … not a chance.
So, here I
sit in my humble little office – of sorts – at the local newspaper cranking out
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 dear season … that
sort of thing. Those of you living in small town America know the kind of
newspaper I mean.
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.
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 for anything needing an
extra hand. 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.