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.