There is so much soulless clutter on social media, that when I saw Yoko Ono’s Project honoring mothers I felt compelled to join in by honoring my own mother. The project is entitled “My Mommy is Beautiful” — anyone can post a picture and write a sentiment about her mother. The online albums are beautiful collections of photos and writings. Perhaps this project touched me because I have been contemplating writing about conversations that I have recently been having with my mother . . .
The Girl with Her Father’s Name
My mommy is beautiful because she has a unique name. She is named after her father, Burnice, (pronounced Burn-us, not Bur-niece)—her name is one that I have never heard anywhere else. I wonder how she came to be named after her father… Thanks to Google, I discovered that Burnice was among the top 1000 names for boys and girls between 1907 and 1925; although my mother was born in 1931 apparently she was chosen to carry the legacy of this unusual name and to be connected in this special way to her father. The name is virtually absent today: in 2012 fewer than 5 boys and 5 girls were given this name. I sometimes refer to my mother as Berniece when talking to someone who does not know her because her name is so unusual. I feel guilty about my laziness and not making a point to honor her unique name. I wonder what it was like for her, as a girl, to have her father’s first name.
My mommy is beautiful because she remembers things about me that I have forgotten to remember about myself. We were sitting at her kitchen table one evening talking about this and that. I don’t know how the subject came up, but she said, “That was really nice, what you did for that girl. I always wondered why you did it.” She was talking about my senior year in high school when there were two of us, Connie and me, with the same GPA, tied to be honored as Valedictorian of our small graduating class. I do recall that it was a bit of an issue that needed to be resolved (I don’t know why having more than one Valedictorian as not within the imagination of the school at the time). I decided to step aside and let Connie have the top honor. I told my mother, “I remember thinking that it was more important to her than it was to me, so she could have it.” I had forgotten about this experience, I have never told anyone about it that I can remember. Yes, I did a generous thing as a young girl. My mommy is beautiful because she reminds me of who I am.