April 2018

Sunday, November 7, 2010

P. S. 14 Nicknames

Ann calls me "Sweet Mary." Renee calls me "LMS" (Little Mary Sunshine). Alex calls me "Goldie" because when she was being my chaffeur, she thought I was particular about the heat level and music loudness in the car. Truly, it was generally to cold and the music was generally too loud, but every now and then it was too hot and I could hardly hear the music. Pea, who is more succinct, calls me "eM."

My sister used to call me "Auntie Fun" because I loved playing with her kids. She just sent a great picture of the five of us making brownies. Willie, the youngest, is covered in chocolate, as any child making brownies should be.

Students through the years have called me "Miss Mary", "Eds" and "Super B--", to name a few. I'm sure there are names I don't know about. One student called me, "Woman who walks barefoot through tall grass." A bit unwieldy, the name never caught on, but I loved coming to the room to find my name and her artwork on my whiteboard. In truth, I would never walk barefoot through tall grass, partly because I'm allergic to grass but mostly because there might be snakes or dog doo-doo in there. Still, the nickname made me feel brave.

My junior high basketball team called me, "Casper" because of how white I would get when I was about to faint. My high school boyfriend, who liked to talk backwards, called me "Yram," pronouced Urammie, rhymes with Miami.

When I was young, my dad called me "Lucy" after the peanuts character because he thought I was bossy when I demanded  he say, "please," when he asked me to pass him the butter. I still require him to say please, but now he calls me names that I can't print here when I make such a reasonable demand. When I hit junior high school, he also called me Merv, which I thought was not my most attractive name. I think maybe my basketball team called me that, too.

My given name is Mary Adele Edwards. I like the name. Both my maternal and fraternal grandmothers were Mary, and they each left a legacy in a name.

My mother's mother grew up in a poor Southern farming family during the depression. Her mother died when grandmother was five years old. Her aunt hanged herself from the rafters in the family barn when grandmother was a child. Her beloved "Papa", who sold the family cow so that grandmother could have a winter coat, died when grandmother was a teenager. Grandmother was the second of four children and put her siblings through college, though she wasn't able to attend college herself. She was a tough woman. She raised five kids of her own and her oldest, my mother, went to Duke on full scholarship and married a doctor: a sure sign that grandmother had been successful. Mom's three sisters say Mom was the favorite, but Mom denies it. Mom was a beauty queen and married a doctor. I suspect they're right.

My father's mother also grew up in rural North Carolina, but she was an adult when the Depression hit. She and my grandfather grew up on adjacent tobacco farms and knew each other from childhood, but didn't marry until after grandmother finished her degree at the teacher's college and had a couple of years to work. She had her first child, my dad, when she was 27. I interviewed her once about the role of women in society and in the family. She believed a woman should establish her independence but that once she became a mother, a woman should stay home to take care of the kids. My aunt says my dad was grandmother's favorite. Dad was not a beauty queen and did not marry a doctor, but my aunt's probably right.

Just like my parents, I am my parents' favorite child. My siblings don't believe this. I think they're in denial.

There are, of course, the Biblical Marys. I've always identified with Martha's sister, Mary Magdelene, who talked to Jesus instead of fixing dinner. That's always been my role: talking, or watching. I like to call myself a manager, but really I'm just a watcher. I like to watch people work, though sometimes it wears me out a little.

Gotta go. Ann has fixed lunch. Mary

1 comment:

  1. you are delusional! face it: matt is the favorite!!


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