I have to first apologize to my readers for the delay in posting this week. Life has become busy, as it generally can be. While I’m trying to stick to my weekly post, my weekends can fly by sometimes. In addition, I’ve become accustom to sitting at my PC to do this and, well, my home office is not an inviting work space at the moment. I removed a buffet that stored most of my office supplies, and put it in my kitchen. To do this, I had to unload the bookcase that sat on top of the buffet. The books are currently in a number of small boxes, to be repacked into a couple of larger boxes shortly. In addition, the office supplies are stacked wherever I could find open floor space. This being said, my home office is my next reno project and I hope to have all of this cleared up within the month. Please bear with me and I’ll be sure to post before and after photo in another blog.
OK, on to the topic for this week. Many families have names that have been passed down through generations and have strong and heartfelt meaning…mine…well, strong yes…angry heart…yes. Let me explain, because you know I’m going to.
My legal name is Merri Janette, but I’ve always gone by Jan and the use of the diminutive version of my name has caused a lot of grief through my life when dealing with legal documents or registration at school and such. I was told at various times that I was named after my Dad’s aunt, but I really didn’t know for sure, and I didn’t know why it was decided
to use the name Jan instead of my first name Merri (pronounced Mary). In later years I was told that my Dad didn’t like his aunt Mary Jane. Hmm….so why was I named after her? This is the story I’ve uncovered, so far.
It seems my Dad did have an Aunt Mary Jane. She was married to his Uncle Charles. He and his brothers enjoyed going to their farm and hanging out with his cousin, and that could be plural as in cousins, but he really didn’t like Aunt Mary. She wasn’t any fun, was very strict, worked the boys hard, and was quick to anger. Dad was at the farm one day with a couple of his brothers. I’ve been told they were suppose to be doing chores, but were being typical young boys and playing around in the barn and just having a fun time. Aunt Mary came out and was not pleased, to say the least. She started chasing them with a switch and the boys ran up the ladder into the hay loft. There Aunt Mary stood at the bottom of the ladder, yelling up for the boys to come down and get the chores done or they were going to feel that switch. Well, Dad decided she needed to cool down, and he proceeded to help her with the only liquid he had handy. Yup, he peed on her. To say this made her even more angry is to put things mildly. She turned on her heels and stormed into the house, sputtering and cursing and yelling back that she was sending Uncle George out to whip him good. I guess Uncle George had different thoughts. Sure, he came out carrying the switch but he couldn’t stop laughing long enough to do anything with it. He made the boys promise to say he’d done what was expected, but he seemed to get quite the kick out of how things were handled. Now remember folks, I got this story from my Dad, who claims to have no knowledge of my being named after her…more on that in a bit. Dad is now 86, in ill health and certainly has the memory issues that come along with age, but him telling me the story while driving home late at night from the family reunion a couple of years ago, those are the things memories are made of. I can see him sitting there, laughing and remembering the incident like it was yesterday. It was probably around 11:00 pm, the skies were clear but very dark out on those country roads. I can still remember how the smile on his face and the laughter as he told this story, just lit up the night.
Many, many years went by and there was a lot of friction in my parents marriage when Mom was pregnant with me. The exact details of that friction will be a part of my memoirs, but just know that both parents had their own perceived reasons for the anger. Dad was away a lot, being a sailor by trade, and he happened to be away when I was born. That left Mom to fill in the birth certificate and, whether she did this out of spite, or she just liked the name, I became Merri Janette. I’ve been told Dad refused to call me Merri, because of his dislike for his aunt, and so Jan it was.
When I asked Dad about this, in the car on that drive back from the reunion, I told him the story I’d heard; Mom was angry at him when I was born and so she named me after his aunt that he disliked. He looked at me, in that way he has, and said, “I don’t know what the hell she had to be angry about. If anyone should have been pissed, it should have been me!”
So there you have it, the history of my name, or what I’ve come to know as the origin. I’ve often thought of going by Merri, and plan to publish under that name. I’m finding out more about my own history and feel that Merri is who I really am, or maybe it’s who I was meant to be. Either way, Jan is who I am now and, while I like the person I’ve become, I think there are parts of who I’m meant to be still to be discovered. But really, when you think about it, it’s just a name.