Wilde times

Yesterday I was reminded of a line from The Importance of Being Ernest. As previously noted, earlier this year I lost my grandmother, or more specifically, my step-grandmother, Jane. Last night I came home to find a letter from an Dublin solicitor regarding the loss of my paternal grandmother, my namesake*, Margaret McDonnell. I must be getting careless.
I have wonderful memories of Ireland. I remember looking into my Aunt Bernice’s eyes for the first time when I was 19, and seeing my own eyes looking back. I remember eye-wateringly strong Irish coffee before bed on chilly winter nights. I remember hours of singing and laughing at Nick’s, my grandparents’ local. I remember taking the long way home to avoid the Garda road blocks!
It was in Ireland that Dr. T bought me a ring, and got down on one knee on a sidewalk and proposed.
When my father, Brian, died in 1998, I got a phone call from my uncle in Dublin, who let me know. That call, as per my father’s request, was made after the funeral. I have not been back to Ireland since, and I often wonder, if I had been given the opportunity to be part of the family then, by which I mean, had I been invited to the funeral, would I have stayed in touch with my grandparents and my aunts and their families?
For my part, I hide behind the excuse that I am angry with my father. I feel that he deliberately excluded me from his life and death – which, given his track record, is not altogether surprising, but that doesn’t make it right. Part of me is very hurt, though, that no one – not a single aunt, cousin, uncle, or grandparent – ever tried to get in touch with me.
I was sad to hear that Madge died, and sadder still that I heard it from a complete stranger. I remember her very fondly – she was tiny but full to overflowing with life and love and laughter.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again
*I’m not convinced that namesake is the right word here, as it implies she was named for me, which obviously is not the case. The closest “right” word I can think of is eponym, but I think that’s usually reserved for things, not people. Anyone have a better word?

2 Replies to “Wilde times”

  1. Interestingly, I had always understood namesake to mean the other way around, which seems both more consistent English *and* a more useful concept.
    (In other words, to my understanding of the word, “She is my namesake” was an idiomatic shortened form of “she is my name’s sake” synonymous with “she is the reason for my name”.)
    However, most etymologists seem to disagree with me, but — the good news — most dictionaries allow the use of the word to mean anything with the same name, regardless of direction or reason.
    So she’s your namesake, if you want to call her that. Otherwise… well, someone on Wikipedia suggests “namegiver”.

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