A Rose By Any Name Should Still Be Cherished

At my cousin’s funeral I ran into a sort-of-cousin, Mary Mack, whom I had not seen for decades.  I say “sort of cousin” because the Macks were cousins of my cousins, but we all played together as children.  I considered them relatives.

Mary Mack voiced confusion at my being called “Corinne”.  You’re Mary Corley, right? she asked, quizzically, in a gentle voice.  I assured her that I was, indeed, “Dick and Lucy’s youngest daughter”.  But my parents always said that I started life as “Bridget Kathleen”, so really, what difference does it make that I dropped my first name later in life?  She agreed.

The conversation triggered another  memory:  Sitting on the stage at my high school baccalaureate, listening to my “class prediction”.  Written and delivered by someone whom I had thought to be a friend, the words stung me.  “Ten years from now, Mary Corinne Corley will still be signing her name, ‘Mary Corinne Corley’.”

Meaning, in 1973, that I would never marry and thus never have a chance to change my surname.

I’ve been married three times, and I never did change my last name.  Some have speculated that I “should” have, but I believe that the measure of love lies in accepting someone as they are, not as you want them to change to suit you.  Each of my husbands claimed not to care if I changed my name prior to marriage; each of them complained that I had not done so after marriage.

I keep plugging away.  Still Dick and Lucy’s youngest daughter.  Still striving to be kind, joyful, and the best version of my self that I can manage to attain.  If I ever changed my name, it would be to drop the “Mary”, which derives from “Miriam” and means “bitter”.  “Corinne”, on the other hand, is the diminutive of “Cora”, which means, “Rebellious maiden”.

I’d rather be rebellious than bitter.  As for complaints about the name that I use, my father always told us that there were two types of people in the world:  Corleys, and people who want to marry Corleys.  He would flash that Irish smile and add:  And you, my dear, are a Corley.

From birth to death.  I’m okay with that.  It’s probable that I’ll never marry again, but if anyone should be so bold as to suggest that I do, I won’t ask him to change his name.  I wouldn’t dream of it; I’ll take him as he stands.  A rose by any other name should still be cherished.



4 thoughts on “A Rose By Any Name Should Still Be Cherished

  1. Pat

    I would see that prediction as a great compliment that you did not need anyone else! And as for changing names when married, we are one of the few places in the world that ever did that. I always considered it a form of “ownership” and told former husbands that if they wanted us to have the same last name they were welcome to change theirs, as mine was not changing. But then perhaps that is one of many, many reasons why they are all exes. 🙂

  2. Cindy Cieplik

    BRAVO!! Gave up MY surname once, and couldn’t wait to get it back….just the way it is for me, and I do not feel the need to defend or persuade.
    My name is Cynthia (Cindy) Marie Cieplik. Love my name!

  3. Schroeder

    Men never need to think about this issue for themselves. Taking the man’s surname is simply accepted in Western civilization. However, I think that women have a benefit: they can choose which surname pleases them most – their father’s, or their husband’s.

  4. ccorleyjd365 Post author

    Schroeder, you make a good point. But I don’t think it’s Western Civilization. I think it’s America. I have a client who explained to me the complicated way that children are named in Kenya. Mind-boggling.

    Once I have a name, I don’t see any reason to change it “because I got married”. But then, that’s my point. Maybe it’s just that when we “form a family” by marrying, we need to come up with a new name. Hyphenation exhausts me but at least it tries. However, if one is going to hyphenate, both the man AND the woman should hyphenate. And when the children become adults, they can choose what they do.

    I just do not think it should be EXPECTED that WOMEN should change their name. Why? It makes no sense. That’s my point. And the man should love her regardless. Just as she should love him even though he does not change HIS name to HERS. See?


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