The first time Mom told me her middle name, I was disappointed.
But only because she said she hated it. She said it sounded like "barrel" even though she knew it was the name of a precious gem.
I thought having a name of a pretty blue-green stone was enchanting. Emerald is a variety of beryl.
Dad hated his middle name too and neither of them added their middle name in signatures.
Mom went traditional with my mine, although I was never sure if my first name was just Marcia or Marcialynn. It is a combination of Marcia, who was Mom's only sister and Lynn, her brother's wife, Marilyn (Dennis).
On top of that, Deep South tradition is to preface a woman's first name with "Miss"; Miss Betty, Miss Helen, etc. Of course, I refused to do this and called my best friend Diana's mom "Bertha". Diana addressed my mom
as "Miss Janice".
I was hard-headed. Even after Diana's family asked me why didn't I follow the custom, I never changed. Our black housekeeper Alma knew it, "You a hard-headed chil, and yer moma don't whup you like she oughta." she told me sternly.
Mom had to let Alma go eventually, as the money got tight. Mr. Jackson, the groundskeeper disappeared too. I asked her why isn't she getting retirement from her Stanford University teaching job? Seemed to me she had been a longtime fixture on campus, but was less than twenty years.
There were good memories in Biloxi despite the rough times: Sitting on the patio listening to the tugboats on the back bay, watching her show how to make sand castles, or how to crack a crab claw open or a walnut. Reading her college textbooks and trying to decipher her hieroglyphics she called "notes."
When she wasn't trying to stop freight trains, she'd instruct me in everything from Chinese checkers to jigsaw puzzles to how to fill out a check, or the correct way to spoon soup from the bowl. She was a patient teacher.
Mom loved dancing the most I believe. Dancing freed her spirit, and she is dancing now and forever.
Thank you Mom for everything.
There was never, ever a doubt you loved your children, and
About the author
- Author Marcia Kreutzmann is the second child of William Kreutzmann and Janice Shaughnessy. Born in Palo Alto, California in 1960, her parents divorced in 1966 and she grew up in her mother's homeland of Biloxi, Mississippi, For more than ten years, Marcia straddled, sometimes unsuccessfully, the two very different worlds of the conservative Deep South and counterculture California.