Namesake Heirloom

by admin on March 7, 2013

I was named after my grandmother (my middle name is her first name), who was named after her grandmother, who was named after her grandmother. We share a lovely, if uncommon, name. When I was a child, my grandmother showed me a lovely pendant inscribed with our shared name. She told me stories about the other women who shared our name, and I always looked forward to the day that it would be mine. Four years ago, on the eve of my wedding, my grandmother gave me the pendant. I wore it under my dress as my ‘something old’.

Sadly, my grandmother passed away two months ago. One of my cousins is pregnant and has just found out that she is expecting a daughter. She has announced that she is naming the child after our grandmother. The issue began when she approached my grandfather and asked for the pendant, claiming that it was her child’s birthright. Grandpa mentioned it to my mother, who helped go through grandma’s things after she passed. My mother was initially too surprised to respond. It came up a few days later when my mother and father were visiting with my cousin’s parents – my mother informed my aunt that the pendant had been given to me years ago. My aunt said something like, ‘Well, she will give it to the baby, it’s the right thing to do.’

My cousin then contacted me directly to ask for the pendant. I refused to give it to her, explaining its meaning to me. She accused me of conning our grandmother out of a priceless piece of jewelry. (The pendant is not particularly valuable – I had friend who works with a jeweler examine it, just for kicks; it’s worth a few hundred dollars at most.) My cousin then said that I had no right to the pendant; when I told her that I was named after our grandmother, she accused me of lying. After I texted her a picture of my driver’s license, she stopped responding. About an hour later, she posted a terrible diatribe against me on her Facebook page, claiming that I lied about my name to cheat her daughter. My mother called me later in tears; my aunt called her and screamed at my mother for raising such a selfish, cruel daughter who refused to return a stolen heirloom to its rightful owner.

I don’t see the point of responding to any more of my cousin’s insanity, but part of me has to shake my head at the absurdity. I cannot think of another way to prove what my middle name is, and I don’t think it would matter at this point. It has all gone too far. My mother tells me that my cousin is considering changing the baby’s name now, which makes me sad. I know that I don’t own the name, but I do own the pendant.   0226-13

When people yield themselves to unbridled greed, they become loony and there are no facts, no documentation, no substantive testimony that will convince them they are not owed what they selfishly want.  It’s like arguing with an insane person.

You have no obligation to give up a wedding gift from your grandmother to someone who hasn’t even given birth yet.   At the first request (um, demand) for the pendant, I would have responded, “The tradition is to pass the pendant to the next generation’s namesake at adulthood. I will do so when a child is of an age to appreciate it and when I am ready to do so. “

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