“It’s All in a Name?”—Who Really Cares?

dad's graveston with Mom off to side***Please note:  While Colleen Kelly Mellor completes her book Patient Witness, documenting her lifetime experience with the health care industry (it’s ‘wicked interesting’ as they say in Rhode Island), she’ll post to biddybytes on Mondays, only…..


Here’s the way the military does it, on gravestones–list the wife’s name, off to the side and lower, as if she’s a subtext. My father’s name’s prominent across the top, his rank, and pertinent dates. How does her info begin?  ‘His Wife’ first…then ‘Doris E.’ (like she’s an appendage.)

“Taking Your Man’s Name at Marriage?”

My grandmother used to say it:  “I don’t care what you call me, as long as you don’t call me late for dinner.”  We’d all generously laugh as if it were the wittiest thing ever…

When I got older, I knew what she meant.

In a way, at times, I felt like performer Jonathan Winters who had so many comedic personas, that he sometimes forgot which one he was, at any given moment. The last time that happened, they carted him off to a mental institution.

When I got old enough to understand, I felt bad for Winters.  Being in his mind with its rapid-fire, rat-a-tat-tat explosiveness must have been hard. I know, for I often can’t quiet my mind, and I don’t have nearly as much stuff percolating, as he did.

I feel the same about Robin Williams, another genius of the multiple-personality genre who morphs from one character into another, in seconds (“Good Morning Viet Nam” was his brilliant cinematic forte, in my humble opinion.)

My multiple marriages and need to take some man’s name did that to me, in a way….

According to my Facebook page, I’m Colleen Kelly, Allen, Mellor but I could list O’Connor and Gates, too.  Bob O’Connor was my fiancée who died the same month we planned to marry and Paul Gates is my mate of 21 years.

Now, I don’t list all the surnames to be some kind of skewed braggart (of what??? I might add)…It’s more a way of connecting with students I’ve had over many years, who recall Miss Kelly…Mrs. Allen…Mrs. Mellor.

In other words, because I’m an  M&M (Multiple Marry-er) or into S&M (Serial Monagamy,) I’ve got many identities. It’s not my fault.  There weren’t a lot of divorces…Only one (and that was tough enough, since it took me three years to get, in an era when contested marriages weren’t even heard, by Family Court.)

That husband said he contested the divorce, ‘on principle,’ while I said ‘it was the only principle he ever had.’  No matter—the court wouldn’t hear our case, ‘til we settled on terms. 

I got the child; he got all our worldly goods (I wasn’t too savvy in the day.)

What happened the rest of my life? Next husband died (our 8-year marriage was eclipsed by a two year Death Watch, following his terminal illness diagnosis).  Next, my fiancée died of heart attack (we’d bought a house together and were to marry that month).  My current, 21-year partner tried to die (I jest), after he was hit on a mountain road, in Weaverville, 3 years ago.

I forced him back from the brink, saying:  “Oh, no you don’t; I’ll not be the sad heroine of my own Greek drama…again.”

With renewed vigor, he survived…..

But I get a kick out of feminists’ railing against women taking on a man’s name. Why? 

A woman by any other name (isn’t that a part of a poem?) is still her Father’s Daughter…and some lucky man/woman’s wife (God, this gets confusing.)

To me, the surname doesn’t matter.  You see…I’ll be a compendium of those names if they represent my life.

These days, too, I know many women who’ve had similar multiple marital situations…The longer one lives (if she’s a woman and takes on husbands’ last names), the more that’s possible.

But what I do object to is the practice by the Armed Forces of putting “Wife of …..(then man’s name) the military person buried at Veterans’ Cemeteries…

It’s just sexist, as in “Woman is a mere extension of her husband.” Unless rule applies similarly to  female veterans’ husbands who are buried, as in:  “John”…Husband to Staff Sergeant Jo-lene Smith. I guess that would be OK.

No matter—Women today are back to taking on husband’s (or husbands’) names, as this link demonstrates.  They’re not even hyphenating…After all, someone has to give in, and as I said, I could never figure out the big deal…They were ALL men’s surnames, at one point…

Besides, can you imagine my names on my headstone? Colleen Kelly Allen Mellor O’Connor Gates.  ‘Twould make for a great story!  I think I’ll do that—write the story of my life, that is.  Oh, wait…I already have.  Now, it just remains as to when I’ll publish.  Stay tuned…

Can you believe they have a Groupon for this service that walks you, stress-free-through the name change business? Not a bad idea, in case you’re marrying soon.  This’ll help you keep everything straight:  https://www.missnowmrs.com/

And men–Note how much easier is your life if/when you marry and don’t have the legal name-changing problem.

A timely example–This just came across the wire:  A woman bends the Hawaii’s official ID card format to her will, ‘because her king-sized name won’t fit.’ She refused to shorten her husband’s (and her) traditional Hawaiian name.

Check out all the above and then tell us what you did about the name business….Keep your own (a man’s?) Take on the man’s? Hyphenate names? List serial names? ….What?

Just got answer to my query–appeared on my Facebook page…

Click on above to learn whether military is sexist, compliments of FB friend….

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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