I was headed to Cleveland for a convention last month, and took advantage by first flying to Pennsylvania to visit my family. I had enough frequent flyer miles that it was a great no-cost decision! There are six kids spread all over this beautiful country, but one brother, a sister, and my ninety-two year old parents still live in the town where I grew up.
I hoped to find some quiet time to talk with my Dad about my very unusual first name – Geraldine. My Mother told me that when I was born, she had picked out either Patricia or Elizabeth, but my Father had asked her to name me after his cousin in New York. I never met this cousin and mom was not very informative; maybe she was annoyed for not getting to pick my name.
Geraldine isn’t ‘cute’ like Patricia or Elizabeth. Most people call me by my nickname Gerri, but Geraldine is a stately name, don’t you think? Geraldine Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential nominee in 1984. Charlie Chaplin named his daughter Geraldine – she was nominated for several Golden Globes, including her role as Tonya in Dr. Zhivago. Perhaps I inherited my zany sense of humor from that silly Flip Wilson character, Geraldine Jones and her famous line, “The devil made me do it.”
I found some quiet time with Dad on Sunday. We talked a little about his health and living at the Easton House ALF. When the conversation dwindled, I summoned my nerve and asked the question; “Dad, I’ve always wondered about my name. I know that you had a cousin named Geraldine. I wondered what was so special about her that you wanted me to be named after her.”
At first he just looked at me, curious I suppose about why I wanted to know. He paused for a bit, perhaps struggling with his memory but then smiled as he slowly began to speak.
Dad told me that he and his cousin Geraldine were born on the same day. Living in different states, they did not see one another very often, but as she grew, my father thought that his cousin was not only beautiful but also very smart. He told me that he thought that any girl named after his cousin would also probably do alright in life. He concluded his story by saying, “And you turned out good, so I was right!”
Wow, Dad thought I’d done okay. He used to tease me, saying that I was a ‘Jack of all trades, but a master at none’. I don’t think he meant that as a compliment but the way I saw it, knowing a little bit about a lot of things has served me well in life.
I left there feeling so special. My namesake was beautiful and smart and dad thinks I’m also beautiful and smart, something I can’t recall him ever telling me. It was a great day.
It’s been two weeks since that nice visit with my Dad. He’s always been quiet, but perhaps with six children, it was hard for him to get a word in edgewise! I’m heading back to PA the last week in October. Maybe Dad may have some more good stories to share with me. I hope so.