The Death of a Name

I’m always a little sad when I think about my maiden name. About half of my dad’s 13 brothers and sisters moved to the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, but most of them were women, who came toting their husband’s names.

Only my dad, Brendan and his brother, Owen made the trip bearing the name of their birth. My uncle, straight out of central casting in his tweed blazers and peaked caps, never married. He was a gardener and lived in a small bachelor’s apartment over the garage of a house in Chestnut Hill that looked to me like a castle the handful of times we visited. They won many awards at the Philadelphia Flower Show back then.

My parents, unlike so many Irish Catholic immigrants, had only two children; me and my younger brother. I changed my name when I married for a variety of reasons. My married name would be easier to spell. I had no real employment history in my maiden name, nor had I yet been published. I really saw no reason not to change it.

But sadly, my brother who had a very complicated medical history died at the age of 24 before he could have children of his own.

So the family name died with him.

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4 thoughts on “The Death of a Name

  1. lindsayg16

    I think it’s nice you captured a bit of your family story here. I especially like the paragraph about your uncle who lived in Chestnut Hill.

  2. Melanie

    I didn’t know that about your brother; I’m sorry.

    When my sister-in-law was pregnant again after having Ellie, I hoped so hard for a boy for just this reason. I always felt funny about that – surely we’d all love another little girl just as much – and wondered what it said about patriarchy and feminism and all that. I’m relieved to hear that other people, who I know to be strong, feminist women, often wish for the same.

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