What’s in a Name?

Lillian Mae Gruenwald. My full name before marriage. Lillian after my maternal grandmother, and by happenstance, my father’s twin sister. Mae after a beloved great-aunt. I hated it. The name; not my relatives. Cousins called me Lilly Mae or Little Mae. To everyone else I was Lillian.

In high school I was the skinny girl on the cheerleader squad. The only one chosen because of acrobatic abilities. I was also the only girl on the debate team. I dared to carry long metal boxes of index cards filled with researched “evidence.” I argued aggressively with boys, at tournaments all over the state of Illinois. To me, Lillian Gruenwald was a never-would-vote-for-homecoming-queen kind of name. And I was right. At homecoming, I was left leading the crowd in cheers for our Bulldogs while the Gail Shorts and Kay Savels left to change clothes. I watched as they sedately rode around the field at half-time, draped over new-model convertibles, donated for the occasion by the local Oldsmobile dealer.

So when my folks readied to leave me at college on that fateful day in early Autumn 1965, a crisp, cool, fresh day, I fidgeted. I willed them to leave before anyone came up to greet us. They finally did, after dutifully giving their Lillian lots of parental advice and enough hugs to smother me. I stood on the curb by the dorm, finally alone. Poised for a new life. On the brink of a new beginning. And then some newbie freshmen came up to greet me. I don’t remember who they were. Or how many there were. But I distinctly remember grinning, holding out my hand to shake their hands, and saying confidently, “Hi, I’m Lill.

sugar maple tree
dwarfed in surrounding green leaves
claims fall glory with crimson red

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Toni is hosting Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. The theme today is KOMOREEI…a Japanese terms that literally means the light filtered between leaves, usually occurring in spring and fall…that in-between season. We’re asked to write about something that has occurred in between seasons.  Haibun: 2 or 3 tightly written paragraphs of prose, not fiction; followed by a haiku. In true Japanese form, the haiku is not beholden to the syllabic count, rather must be about nature and include a “season” word. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Photo in Boston’s Public Garden, Fall 2016. PS:  I’m happy being called Lill or Lillian these days….with age comes a knowledge that we are who we are, regardless of the name.