Friday, June 25, 2010

What is in a name...

Once upon a time, a rather cute, red headed nurse met a rather cute cop in the ER of White Plains Hospital Center (WPHC) on a hot July morning. That cop stalked that nurse until he got to ask her out on a date. She said yes and off they went.
For the life of her, she could not remember his last name, she just knew she could not pronounce it. At the end of that first date, she asked him his last name again...
"Say again?"
"Oh." she said...
"Okay." she thought, "well, it doesn't matter. It's not like I am going to marry him anyway."
She thought..."First of all, he is a cop, second of all, I can't say his name. Nope, not gonna marry a guy who's name I can't pronounce."

A few months later, while we stood at city hall filling out our marriage licence, "NAME" appeared in front of me...would I take it, would I not take it. Come on...
Who in the right mind would take "SCHLUSSER" if they could stay "BRENNAN" for crying out loud?
It wasn't like I cried in the office or anything, I just hesitated for a moment. As un~liberated as I may be in terms of feminism, I was still raised in a post~feminist revolution world. I stood still with the pen poised for just an instant and filled in the form...but the memory of the moment sticks with me even now. It was as if time stood still as I contemplated being woman and doing the whole roar thing.
What strikes me as so time telling is that what was once an automatic was now a decision. Only a generation and a half earlier, Ellen Durkin became Ellen Brennan with out a thought about it except perhaps to practice her new name. The same holds true for Cecilia Smith who became Brennan and Margaret Fedo who became Peggy Durkin...While they may not have liked the new name they didn't have any choice. I was the first generation in my family that did have that choice.
So what is the big deal? And why do I feel compelled to write about it? After all, I took the name didn't I?
Because somewhere between the burning of the bras and my marriage license a shift occurred in the conscience of we woman. No longer were we lemmings, we were individuals and that is not a bad thing after all. Kind of like sex, our generation made a decision if we were going to have it or longer did society dictate the definition of good girl vs. bad girl. We made the decision for ourselves.
All good right? I don't know about that. Yes, in many ways, it is way more honest, but in the course of history, how many times has the quest for knowledge out smarted, at least for a while, wisdom?
We are told in the Word of God to seek after Wisdom and God will give it freely. But in terms of knowledge, once we have it, we are responsible for it. There are things that our God never intended for us to know. And once we know it, we can't unknow it.
Am I suggesting that it is bad to have a choice in names after marriage? Yeah, maybe a little. Before you start contacting Gloria whats her name, who eventually got married and now we don't hear from her anymore by the way....hear me out.
John gave me a really good ring when he proposed. I mean it is way, way, way good. A couple Karats that include both mine and Mom's diamonds. It is a RING! My mother-in-law told him he had to get me a really good ring so that when I was shaking the poop off the diapers one day, I might catch a glimmer on that diamond and remember why I married him in the first place! What a good woman she was!
But let me tell you, that ring, while still a contract, is an asset. More then once I have thought that I could sell it when things got real rough. I learned to wait on the Lord in those moments and I have to admit, I pretty darn glad it is still on my finger...but if in our nation, when things are so bad, there is ever a time I need to sell that really, really good ring for my family, I will. If it is a choice between food and ring or home and goes the ring into the shop.

The name I get to keep. John gave me his name. Think about it ladies, he gave me his name, and his name was pretty good until I started to wear it. I am no longer Maryellen Margaret Brennan, I am Maryellen Schlusser...Mrs. Schlusser to my kids freinds and teachers and I love when they trip over trying to say it. If I really don't like someone, I wait patiently until they say it properly or just smile as they call me Ma'am.

I did nothing to earn John's name. He gave it freely. His name is the only gift he can never take back. Even in court, a judge would have to decide that for him. He gave it to me for all of my life. Even in death, I still think on my mom as Ellen Brennan, not Ellen Durkin...There are certain gifts that are forever gifts. John Schlusser gave me his name.

So while my own girls will have to decide on moral issues even now and name issues someday, unlike their grandmothers and great grandmothers, I pray they accept the name of the man who becomes their husband. I hope someday, I have a daughter-in-law, who accepts our name, SCHLUSSER....

This morning, I am going to a wake. A woman in our church buried her daughter about four months ago. Today she is burying her much pain in one sisters life. I won't pretend to have answers to all that God is doing in her life...nothing I could say right now matters. We truly rest in the Lord's providence in seasons of suffering.

It just struck me as I wrote this, that today, she does not have to give back her husband's name. Even in death, she gets to keep it. She is still a "Mrs." and does not revert back to being a "Miss" and his name is her own. Maybe that is why our husbands are the priest of our homes and why we accept their name. This widow is still known by the name of the man she has loved all these years.
**********Remind me about why I hate the term "Ms." for another post someday, okay? Oh, how I hate that term!**************************

I am blessed to be given a name and to be taken as John's own in marriage. It was a gift freely given. Yes, dear feminists, I belong to John. He is my husband and I am his wife. John gave me the name of Schlusser to own as my mine. In Glory, I get to stand on the name my God has given me: Child of the King. God made me royalty and by his grace I am a Schlusser dirt side and beyond.

“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us.” Deuteronomy 29:29


Stacey said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you! When I was getting married, a friend asked me if I was sure I wanted to take my husband's last name, because of the name not because of the feminist issues. Yes, people have trouble spelling and pronouncing it, often adding an extra -t- at the end, but as you so eloquently say, it was a gift he gave to me forever. :)

Ashley said...

I adore this post. Thank you! Do you mind if I quote you on my blog? I turn my blog into books each year for my children and I would love for them to have this to read as they grow older.

Maryellen said...

Ashley, I am so glad you came back! I deleted you on father's day by mistake. I am so sorry! Yes, by all means share with your kids! xoxo!

Maryellen said...

Stacy, the name has been good to me and I think your has been too! God bless you and all those handsome men in your much longer until you welcome you new little miss? xoxo

Anonymous said...

Like you, when I first met my Mr I had trouble remebering & then pronouncing his name. For the longest time I had to stop & think of two swear words in my head & then change the first letters to V's! But it is a good name & I think it is lovely that you pointed out that it was his gift to me!!

Thank you so much!
Mrs V

~SHANNON~ said...

Amen! I totally agree with you. When I took my husbands name at marriage I even got several annoyed emails from friends and acquaintances questioning why I would want to give up my identity for a man. I was truly puzzled, because it seemed to me to be such a gift that I got his name! That we would have our own family and they would have that name too...

I love your take on this. Well said.

~SHANNON~ said...

Oh I forgot while I was chatting to tell you I am from Mom Loop Friday Follow- I'm your newest follower:)

Maryellen said...

Thanks for coming by Shannon! I have to get back over there and figure it out some more...I thought I was so tech savvy with my not!
I so hear you on the whole friends not getting it...I so turned some heads when I promised to obey him at the alter....but given my rather strong, Irish persona...yeah, obey was pretty important vow to make!
And Miss Sheila, you made me crack up with all that the Mrs. V had to go through to remember her new name! LOL!

The Redhead Riter said...

Well, if you can make it to the grave and still be a Mrs to someone you love and adore, MY CONGRATULATIONS because it is happening less and less as the years go by. VERY sad!

Maryellen said...

I agree! I guess it goes under the heading of another decision we make in today's age. What was a given only a generation and a half ago is now a decision we have to make everyday. And nightmare endings happen for reasons we just can't begin to grasp...ohh, maybe another post for another day!
Glad to see you here and thanks for joining in! I think your sight may become a new addiction for me...

Josh Renaud said...

I enjoyed reading your take on this topic, and I liked the way you consider your husband's name being a gift to you.

I'd just like to make two extra points.

First, I'm not sure about your statement "God made me royalty and by his grace I am a Schlusser dirt side and beyond." How does this square with what Jesus said in Matthew 22:23-33?

Secondly, the way we handle surnames in the U.S. is just one way of doing it. Honestly, I don't know that it is necessarily the best.

I am partial to what they do through much of Latin America: Everyone has two surnames: the first from their father, the second from their mother. (Example: Maria Rodriguez Antelo, daughter of Jorge Rodriguez Padilla and Lucila Antelo Mamani)

Women keep those names even after marriage, though in some countries they may add their husband's surname using the "de" (of) preposition. (For example: Maria de Gomez or Maria Rodriguez de Gomez, instead of Maria Rodriguez Antelo)

I love the double last name, because it makes it family relationships so much more clear.

Maryellen said...

Thanks Josh.