“It’s spelled M-a-r-i-A-N because I’m a girl.”
“What? Marion’s a boy’s name?”
“Yep. It’s John Wayne’s real first name as a matter of fact.”
For millennials I should name Suge Knight, founder of Death Row Records. For the evangelicals I could name Pat Robertson, whose given name is Marion. Most male Marions are from two to three generations before myself like Mr. Robertson and Mr. Wayne.
What I leave out is that modern day preference for spelling seems to be “O-N” no matter one’s gender.
So goes my usual explanation of my name.
Marian is an adjective that stands for all things relating to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Raised a Roman Catholic, my name could have inspired me to Marian Devotions but, alas, my prayer life
is more spontaneous conversations in my head or pleading for answers or outcomes while attending mass. I wish I could have stuck with the rosary. I said many decades and visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio several times while waiting for the birth parents of both my children to select Adam and I as parents. I got the children, but raising them often means needing stress relief—something the rosary recitation could bring. I’m not a
believer in miracles per se, but I believe the more petitions one sends heavenward, whether personally or intercessory, leads to what our predominantly secular society deems as “good karma” happening.
As for following in the footsteps of the Virgin Mary, I fall way short. If, at 14ish, God had told me to bear his son, I’d say Yes out of fear of lifelong reparations for a negative response rather than faith. The trip to Bethlehem literally carrying Jesus on a donkey would have resulted in poor Joseph spending the trip home a victim of passive aggressiveness. If my adolescent son had stayed back at the Temple in Jerusalem while I commenced traveling on quite a way home
to Nazareth…. I would have been visibly fuming mad even after he told me he was doing his father’s work. Jesus would get an ear full all the way home. It would have been all about my feelings rather than his awakening to his call. I think, the closest I’d come to Mary is at the Wedding in Cana… I’d definitely request his miraculous powers to refill the pitchers with wine; I’d think of how much money the guests spent on gifts and not want to disappoint. I don’t
know how she bore witnessing her son’s crucifixion. That would break me. No, I don’t think being named Marian inspired me to be anything close to Mary.
I know my dad wanted me named after his mother. I have many qualities in common with my Nana. But my mother only relented to my name because it actually was her aunt’s name too, and she got Carroll as my middle name—another nod to her family lineage. I never knew my great aunt well, but I knew of her. She was the polar opposite of her sister, my grandmother. And, the most we have in common is similar tensions between sisters.
Are name choices really reflections of parents whims more than what we become? I liked that my name made me unique in my generation. There was never another Marian in my class—
possibly none in any of my many schools. My first job at the local nursing home serving up pureed food on trays was the first institution that had FOUR Marians including my boss and myself. Marian was so old fashion, it worked as labels often do. That is, I tended to appreciate learning from the past and having old fashion values. I was never in a rush to take on most fads, quite content with what life had given me.
When the Atari craze broke in the 80’s, I played maybe three games of asteroids, found it utterly confounding, moved to pong, found it utterly mind numbing, and crawled back up on the couch with a book under an afghan crocheted by my Nana. She’d given me a historical novel based on the life of Sacajawea. I savored all 1000 plus pages of details, especially when ask to dust. To my mother’s disdain, I’d point out the fact that Native Americans found white
settlers obsession with cleaning absurd. “Dust returns.”
Despite being a buser, I’d choose to walk home from school in the two weeks at the start of school and end of the school year. (Those being the only two one wasn’t risking dying of frost bite in Vermont.) When given the chance to exercise, one should always keep mind and body sound. The worst word I ever used in my house was “sucks.” My mother relentlessly tried to rid me of this vulgar habit. We said “number one” or “number two” in our house if we needed to discuss our bathroom feats. My physics teacher was forever unable to praise my knowledge of his subject area, but in the class of nearly all smart aleck boys, he said he really admired that I never resorted to coarse language; I used witty zingers to deflect their verbal exasperation at my mindless questions or ignorant guesses at his questions directed at my eyes lower, hand not raised personae. Coarse language is a sign of a lack of vocabulary development was my mantra.
When it was time to drive at age 16, I bid my time making sure I mastered hill starts, two point turns, and lane changing on that one major highway 10 miles up Mill Hill from our village. I was to be a proficient Vermont driver, not an eager one. I was a bit naive. When I still hadn’t bought my first beer two months after turning 18, I huffed at my neighbor’s exasperation, carefully drove down to the convenience store with his money, bought a six pack, handed him
his change, the beer, and sent him on his way home. “Now can you just leave me alone?” I proclaimed before doing what was more important in life. I probably went back to studying for my finals for some time before I realized he didn’t turn 18 until November.
Uniquely Marian or not, you’re more than just your name.