The Woman with no Middle Name
I was raised living with both my Mother and Grandmother (Mammaw), to whom I give credit for many ‘old-school’ morals I had instilled. Looking back now, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Born in 1917, she rose in the era of the Great Depression – a gentle, vibrant and curious child number five out of an eventual ten. Of her nine sisters and brothers, Marjorie McCorkle was the only child who was not assigned a middle name. At the very least, these odds alone might deliver a hefty blow to one’s own self-worth. The others were all given distinguished middle names, such as Coolidge, Fletcher, Louise and Gleason – so it still behooves me as to why her parents would choose to let one child go without that very important integer in their life.
I overheard the story several times throughout my childhood. “It must not have been important at the time. All the other children were given a middle name – except for me.” Whenever she talked about it, she always smiled – but I knew that smile all too well. Marjorie had become a master of hiding any hurt behind that beautiful smile of hers.
The meaning of the name Marjorie is ‘Pearl’ – I found the description to coincide as closely with her persona as it did the effect she had on people. It is a strong and elegant name, one of empowering status. It may be pronounced the English way by way of MAARJHeriy (to sound like a ‘zh’ instead of a ‘j’). I wish I’d known the meaning of Marjorie before now, as she would have had some damn nice pearls. What is it they say about hindsight again?
It interested me to learn of some famous personalities who were born in 1917: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Desi Arnaz, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Lena Horne, Richard Boone, Phyllis Diller, Joan Fontaine, Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward and Jane Wyman. At this very moment I can almost sense her reply, “I’ll bet they all had middle names.” And you know, she was probably right.
In pondering the subject, perhaps for too long – I have decided to give my dear grandmother an honorary middle name. I ended up with two full legal pad pages of names. My final choice was not taken lightly, nor was it made quickly.
From beginning to end the name Elizabeth refused to leave my head. At some point during my childhood, I remember her telling me she did love that name – perhaps would have even picked it for herself. In biblical times, Elizabeth was John the Baptist’s Mother. The name Elizabeth is from a Greek translation of the Hebrew name Elisheva, meaning “God’s promise”, “oath of God”, or “God’s daughter”. Elizabeth has always been a widely used English name, of which my grandmother was of Irish-English ancestry. It makes perfect sense for her to have been given an English first and middle name, whilst carrying the Irish surname – eventually changing back to English once she was married. How I do love things that make sense; there are so very few in the world that do.
It may be 95 years late, dear Marjorie – but do know that you were extremely worthy in all aspects. This albeit ‘honorary’ bestowal comes with much love and adoration from your ‘bunny rabbit’ who misses you still, every day.
Until that fabulous day when we meet again, Marjorie ‘Elizabeth’ McCorkle Jones. And guess what, Mammaw? It’s got a real nice ring to it…