As allays I cut from you both the beginning and the end. This one you really do lose a lot from not getting the beginning and end… sorry.
To those who only met me in these last few years, those of work, school and professionalism I am Kate.
“You can’t change your name this late in life.” My sister tells me. She lays across the couch like the Queen of the house her long legs propped up on the arm rest.
“It’s just for professional purposes,” I speak in vain. “I think maybe people will take a Kate more seriously…”
Some new people call me Katie too. It’s as though they saw the freckles through the makeup or noticed the broken nails and chipped polish on my fingers. Maybe we can’t help who we are as much as we can’t help what we are made of.
Katherine means by definition; pure, white, innocent maybe. I accept that as I am rather pale. In particular this name comes from my crazy grandpa’s sister. The old man who I never really knew and yet for years after his death I aided in cleaning the house he nearly suffocated with hoarding. Like sifting through sand for gold I dug through countless boxes of junk that he had held precious and priceless. Stacks of newspapers and empty cereal boxes reached near to the ceiling creating a chaotic city of rubbish. And did you know he had a sister? How appropriate to be named after her. This Katherine was a smart woman who lived to be 96 If I’m not mistaken. I recall visiting her in at the old folk’s home in Florida. A small room featuring one window open to a view of the tropical garden. Stacks of books in large print spines cracked and torn from the rough love of reading. Books full of crosswords and various paper puzzles lay in a wicker basket by her bed. And did I mention Katherine was always happy to see us? Did I mention that she spelled her name K-A-T-H-Y-R-N? Thus provoking the spelling of Katy to end with a Y. Why indeed because my mother put K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E on my birth certificate so according to the government that is my name.
Lucille is from my Grandmother on my fathers side. Another grandparent who exists only in hazy memories, like a song in which you remember the tune but forget the lyrics. I know stories of her but have only one of my own to hold. Most of the time I keep it buried in my pocket, maybe afraid it might run away if I let it out. A chilly but fresh green Easter morning I wore a silly dress and an itchy pink straw hat. Hunting for eggs in the tall jungle grasses of her backyard. I was small enough to keep spilling all the eggs I’d collected which my sister then grabbed up without a second thought. Somewhere behind us is a wooden fence half knocked down and beyond that are trees twisted knotted and tangled over a littered urban soil. Beyond that is the highway providing a steady sound track of hums, whoosh and screeches.
“Go check by the trash can I hid some over there.” My Grandmother says. Her voice is warm and encouraging. Off we go my sister and I wading through that sea of green. It may have been something of a race to get there first and if it was I’m sure she was winning. “Raaa!” Out my Father jumps from the basement doors which laid flat as board on the ground next to those rusty old trash cans. I remember a heart pounding rapid fire of adrenaline that sent my clumsy little feet pitter patter flying in the other direction. I only realized upon looking back that I’d dropped the basket and left my sister far behind. My Grandmother who had orchestrated the entire event is roaring with laughter. She has to hold her side from stiches. The stories go that she was a wild mountain girl in Kentucky when my grandfather met her. Always barefoot she’d shoot a squirrel and eat it all including the brains. In a rich catalogue of fables she is the ultimate trickster like Loki, Pan, or Anansi.
Did I mention that her real name was Lucy not Lucille? My mother had assumed Lucy was shorted from a full name and so according to the government I am not really named after anyone.
I used to talk about legally changing the spelling of my name. Kathyrn Lucy Isaacs as I should be. I’d like to be a Kathyrn, I’d love to be a Lucy.