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Granny’s Namesake

I’m the only living descendant of my grandmother who shares her name.  So you’d think when she got sick the family would have called me and let me know?  Nope.  I was persona non grata because of a war that had happened a few years earlier between my mother and I.  This granny was my mother’s mother so there was also a direct line and I was her first grandchild who also gave her her first great grandchild.  None of granny’s other children, my aunt and uncles ever called to ask me what happened, so they only know the story from my mother’s point of view.

Anyway, my cousin, the only one who is still talking to me, called me to let me know what was going on because she believed I deserved to know.  I was 35 weeks pregnant when I found out.  At 36 weeks, our 85 year old granny died.  I was told flat out by my mother’s siblings and herself that I was not wanted at the funeral and that I wasn’t family.  Which I found ironic – I was the only living namesake, the other had died when she was 38.

Every other funeral I’ve ever been to, including my father in law’s and mother in law’s, even if there was a family dispute, the dispute was put aside and all were welcome to mourn.  Not my family.  Stay away, I was told.  Don’t send flowers.  Don’t talk to us.  You’re not one of us.  Leave us alone. Blah blah blah.  Most other families put the “fun” in “dysfunctional,” they lived by the “dys.”

Now, I mentioned earlier that I was 36 weeks pregnant.  Well, in order to go to the funeral, I would have had to fly there.  In order to fly there, I had to get clearance from my doctor.  In order to get clearance from my doctor, I couldn’t be under any stress.  My doctor took one listen to what was going on and refused to certify me to fly.  He did not want me anywhere near that pit of vipers for fear I might have the baby early.  I called up my aunt in tears to tell her I wanted to be there but couldn’t and got the same refrain : don’t call us, ever, etc etc etc. So even if I wanted to go, I couldn’t.  I went into what was thought to be premature labour over the stress, but some IV fluids and a night’s rest in the hospital fixed that.  I was put on bed rest the rest of my pregnancy.

My granny was a nurse.  My aunt was a nurse.  I know granny would have understood why I couldn’t go to her funeral.  My granny also taught love, forgiveness and other Christian virtues and I know she would have wanted me there at least symbolically.  It was their loss.  I mourned for granny on my own way the day she died and again on the day she was buried.

If I had been allowed to be part of the funeral, even from afar, I would have made the great grand baby I was carrying her next namesake.  I wasn’t part of it so I didn’t.  My children weren’t even mentioned in the memorial notice either.

The irony is, 3 years later, I’ve found out that granny wanted me to be given something and they, my aunt, uncles and mother, have been farting around with excuses as to not contacting me.  It was the same cousin who told me too.  Now I want to view a copy of the will just to make sure they haven’t pulled a fast one.  I bet I’m going to get the cast offs no one else wants.  Figures, eh?   1117-09

I’m a bit confused as to how your presence, or lack thereof, at the funeral is the determining factor whether you’d name your baby after your grandmother.  It seems you think that not naming your newest child after your grandmother will somehow punish your family for not including you in the funeral.  The only persons hurt by your spitefulness are you, your child and your grandmother.  You harbor a bitterness that is so profound you are willing to entangle your good grandmother’s name up into the memory of a family dispute.   Your child forfeits the opportunity to carry on a name of a person you claimed to love and respect.  And finally, grandmother’s legacy of a good name being passed on to the next generation has been lost solely due to pettiness.

And Granny’s lessons on the Christian virtues of love and forgiveness were as much for you as the rest of your family. Honor Granny’s memory by not just having listened to her lessons but doing them.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Louise February 22, 2010, 12:08 pm

    I agree with Miss Jeanne; I don’t see why the family’s behaviour is a good reason not to carry on granny’s good name. If the family refuses to have contact with the letter writer, it’s not like they will be aware of the perceived slight anyway. The letter writer obviously puts great stock in the fact she bears her granny’s name. If the name is so important, pass it on!

    The tone of the submission struck me as a bit pious. I would love to know what broke this family apart from everyone’s point of view.

  • Squeaks February 22, 2010, 1:24 pm

    I actually agree with not naming the child after granny for several reasons.

    For one, if I was the baby, I would not be thrilled to be named for someone, and a link a family that I am cut off from. That to me would seem a painful life long reminder of a set of Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, etc. that doe not want me in their life. The story of how my namesake died just before I was born but mom was banned from the funeral would not make me feel warm and fuzzy and connected.

    I can also see it as being painful to the mother to use the name. We say often here naming of a child is the choice of the parents, and their reasoning is theirs alone and should be respected. No etiquette rule has been breached in choosing a different name as their was never a requirement to do so. Yes it is sweet and touching to use family names, but it is not an obligation, nor even a sign of disrespect not to. We also do not know if another name was chosen prior to the death. I read it more that she would have possibly changed her choice of name if she had attended, but as she was kept away, she decided rather to just stick to the original plan.

    I do think it would be a bit odd to name a child a family name after a family that has disowned the mother and by default the child. It seems it almost stops being a name sake at a certain point of separation from the family. And as the family does not seem to care, it would not actually honor them or granny to use the name as, well they do not care nor see them as family. The motivation should be based on a name that they parents like and suits the child at this point. If they actually like granny’s name on its own, great, but if another name seems more fitting, especially in light of the fact that you are not longer a part of this “family” I just do not see the pettiness in moving on and using a new name. I also could well see the family that stirs up more drama if the submitter “stole” granny’s name.

  • VL February 22, 2010, 5:33 pm

    Miss Jeanne,

    With empathy I see the hurt this family is going through. A bigger honor to the memory of Granny is the healing and restoration this family needs. A namesake would just be a band-aid- if that.

  • Fox February 23, 2010, 4:46 am

    First off, I am very sorry that you were prevented from attending the funeral of a loved one by family drama. That said, since I don’t know what caused the break, perhaps the family decided that your presence would make the day about you and the family drama rather than about your grandmother, so they thought it better not to have you there. However, I do feel families should try to put aside differences for such matters, and they certainly could have at least been courteous to you and explained why they don’t want you there (especially the family members who are not involved in any dispute with you themselves).

    But.. you stress repeatedly that you are her namesake as though that should entitle you to a special place in the family. I’m guessing it was probably your *mother’s* decision to name you, and since your mother is the one who’s cut you off, it just seems a bit petty to be focusing on this issue. (Especially since we name kids upon birth, so it’s not as though you “earned” the name by being granny’s favourite, or the like.) You focus on this and neglect to mention any special relationship with your grandmother that might change the situation.. but it kind of sounds like you hadn’t had any recent contact with grandma (or you might have heard from her that she was sick). I don’t want to judge when I don’t have all the details, but your focus on being the namesake just seems like a very weird priority. And choosing what to name a child who will likely never meet any of these family members based on the actions of those family members seems petty and vindictive.

    In any case, hey: your grandmother doesn’t care that you weren’t at the funeral. Funerals are more for the survivors than the deceased. It doesn’t sound like you would have gotten any closure from those relatives anyway. In regards to the things your grandmother may have left you, the rest of the family needs to back off and act like adults. It was your grandmother’s decision who she left what to, and if she wanted to give you something, it’s none of the rest of the family’s business and they don’t get to determine whether you “deserve” it.

  • Molly March 10, 2010, 3:12 am

    Gotta disagree with Miss Jeanne on this one. The sender sounds like she tried repeatedly to love and forgive her family, only to be rebuffed. There’s a limit to how far that can go. And why stick a kid with a name that ties into such a messy affair, especially if granny was also refusing contact with the sender? Imagine telling the kid that story, and concluding with “and that’s why we named you Mary!”

  • JPeaslee April 6, 2010, 3:54 pm

    I don’t blame her for not naming her child after her own namesake…it’s clear that the OP felt really rejected and unloved by the whole thing, possibly even more so because she shared the name of her grandmother; she probably wouldn’t want her own child feeling the same way.

  • Maryann July 7, 2010, 7:44 am

    I agree with those who disagree with Miss Jeanne. Yes, Granny deserved the honor, that much is obvious. But no one would want to remind herself daily of the pain of being disowned from her family to the extent that she’s not even welcome at a funeral, and it’s certainly not a story with which she would care to burden her child.

    A middle name, perhaps, with the explanation of it being important because of Granny. It would be a way of honoring Granny while minimizing pain. But never a first name. It really wouldn’t be right for anyone.

    It would really be beautiful if people would save harsh criticism until they’ve thought things through from the point of view of the person wronged.

  • Tori January 17, 2011, 3:06 pm

    What happened that was so bad that your family didn’t want you there?

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