Hearing my name

One of the things that struck my somewhat sleep-deprived and overwhelmed mind during the Mass MoCA/Tupelo Press residency/workshop was that I had not heard people call me by name in such concentrated fashion for a very long time.

I am most often in settings where the group is so small and familiar that it is obvious that someone is speaking to me without their having to use my name. I also spent a lot of years answering to Mom, a title that I love, but it does cut down on the use of my given name, as people often referred to me as “Mom” rather than Joanne when my children were present.

During the conference, when people addressed me as Joanne, it reminded me of who I am as an individual, aside from my societal/family role. When I looked down at my nametag, which I kept joking I had to wear to remind myself who I was, or when I showed it to our visiting poets when they were signing book dedications for me so that they could have the correct spelling of my name, I was thinking even more about my name.

I thought I’d share again a poem that I wrote for the Silver Birch Press “All About My Name” series prompt.  It appeared there on June 29, 2015.

Becoming Joanne
 – by Joanne Corey

If my grandfather Giovanni
had not fled the Old Country
before the Great War,
I might have been Giovanna
or piccola Giovanina.
Born in 1960s New England,
I was Joanne —
one word —
small a —
with an e —
to avoid confusion with four classmates
who answered to that common name.

When I was eighteen,
my Latin teacher derived and gave
meaning to my name:
Joanne —
feminine of John —
from Hebrew –
variously translated as
God is gracious- —
Gift of God —
God’s gracious gift.
A daunting aspiration
as I began adulthood.

After decades of striving
to fulfill the promise,
to be worthy of my name,
in my sixth decade,
wisdom dawns.
God freely gifts grace.
I AM,
have always been,
will always be
Joanne —
God’s gracious gift —
living out a universal call.

Mother’s Day

image

Today, I am celebrating Mother’s Day 5,000 miles from home.

For the first time in a number of years, I won’t be spending Mother’s Day with my mom and mother-in-law. They, along with my dad, however, enjoyed a special brunch together at GSV, the senior community where they live.

Even if you haven’t been following along on my previous travel posts, you may have guessed from the picture above that I am in Hawai’i. The orchid lei I am wearing was presented to me for Mother’s Day by my Honolulu resident daughter and son-in-law, right before we went in to St. Patrick’s Church, their neighborhood parish where we celebrated the wedding in November 2012. They sing in the choir for 8:30 Mass. Sometimes, Larry plays organ, but it wasn’t his turn this week. Beth did cantor, which was nice to hear, as we did so often in our home parish.

It was Good Shepherd Sunday, which was a happy co-incidence for Mother’s Day, as the care and concern of a shepherd mirror the care and concern of a mother for her children. We also got to sing some hymns that I don’t often get to sing, such as “This Is the Feast” and “Hail Thee, Festival Day.” Before the dismissal, there was a lovely blessing for mothers of all generations and varieties, including foster mothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be.

I am happy that, for the first time in a number of years, I am able to celebrate with both of my daughters and, for the first time ever, with my son-in-law, who made Filipino food for Mother’s Day dinner. That’s another first, as I had never had Filipino food before. Dinner was so delicious! We had pork adobo, which was pork marinated in soy sauce and vinegar, chicken afritada, which is a tomato-based stew, pancit, which was thin noodles with vegetables, including snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and baby corn, and rice, because all Filipino meals must have rice!

Despite all the firsts, the constant has been my husband of almost 32 years, without whom I would not be a mom. Thanks, Brent, for your love and support that have made it possible for me to be the best mom I could manage to be for the last 28 years.

%d bloggers like this: