Thursday, September 4, 2008

Theresa Lillian Matthai

Just realized that my cousin Cathy submitted a new comment on a previous blog entry of mine which I wrote this past birthday. Noticing that I had referred to my mother as Theresa Lillian Matthai, Cathy stated she never knew her name was Theresa and asked why she had always been called "Lilly." My Uncle George, Cathy's father and my mother's brother, had also mentioned to me sometime back that he would like to see me write more about my mother since he felt he hardly knew her, at least in those early years of our lives as he was away in the Navy and she was so much older than he. It also occurred to me that perhaps Uncle George did not know my mother's first name was actually Theresa, so let me explain.

Indeed, mom had always been called Lil or Lilly, and for most of her life believed her first name to be Lillian and her middle name to be Theresa. That is what she had always been told and, of course, had no reason to doubt it. The story went, as she related it, that my grandmother loved the name "Lillian," but my grandfather, Karl, wanted mom to be named after his mother, Teresa, still in Germany. They couldn't agree so, mom was told, settled on the name "Lillian Theresa" (spelled with the "h").

Mom had always hated the name "Lillian;" and, in fact, while growing up and particularly in high school and her early adult years, refused to be called Lillian at all. She went by her "middle" name and all of her friends called her "Terry," short for Theresa, but not nearly as pretty. Somewhere along the way, she dropped the "Terry," and went back to Lillian, as I do not ever remember my father, grandmother, or aunt or uncle calling her anything but Lil or Lilly. Perhaps she outgrew the novelty of it all. (In my youth, I changed the spelling of my name from R-o-b-i-n to R-o-b-y-n because I thought it was cuter.....but, I digress.)

So, mom was Lillian to most of us and certainly to Grandma. Here's the twist: After Grandma passed away in 1977, mom found her own original birth certifiate among other of Grandma's important papers and personal effects. Apparently, mom had never had occasion to look at her birth certificate before because she was certainly surprised to find that her name was listed as "Theresa Lillian Matthai" on the birth certificate, not vice versa. It seems Grandpa Karl had had his way after all! Mom was a bit perturbed to say the least, as she spent all those years remaking herself into "Terry" when she was "Terry" all along.

I personally can't picture her as "Terry," or "Theresa" for that matter. She just seems like a Lillian to me. I miss her.

As an aside....did you know that Aunt Loraine was always adamant that her name was misspelled as well? I believe her name is "Lorraine Roselle Matthai." She always insisted that "Loraine" should be spelled "Lorain" (one (1) "r;" no "e"), but to compromise, she kept the "e" at the end of her name, although she refused to keep the two (2) "r's." Uncle George, did you happen to find HER birth certificate among all the paperwork you recently had to sort through?????????

Have a blessed day.

1 comment:

Junosmom said...

Now that you mention it, I DO remember you telling me at some point that she was called Terry as a girl. But I guess I had forgotten that Theresa was part of her name. Thank you for the account. I think it is interesting to hear that Grandma and Grandpa couldn't agree on that. We don't know much about their relationship, or at least, I don't.