One morning during a routine phone conversation about the weather, the kids, and the state of life in general, my mom casually mentioned that I might find some interesting information “in those old papers you have from Mama [my Grandmother Arline].”
“You’ll probably find my name change.”
“The papers to change my name.”
“Your name change? What was your name? Isn’t your name Suzanne?”
“That’s what Mom called me. But my real name was ‘Mercy.’ Mercy Winsor Brown.”
By the time I learned that the woman I had known as ‘Suzanne’ had been born, baptised, and lived for over TWO decades under another name, I already knew that Mercy was a very old family name passed down through at least four generations. And, I had been wondering where and how that name had fallen off the family tree. Now, it seemed that it never did, fall off. It was there all the time.
The story of Mom’s moniker is one of my favorite blog posts, written as a birthday surprise only months before she unexpectedly passed away — Another Party! It’s Mom’s 77th Birthday Today. But, how her name came to be Suzanne, Rebecca Sue, and eventually Susie is only one of the surprises I’ve discovered as I learn more about her life.
Today, on her birthday, I do miss picking up the phone to ask Mom question about someone mentioned in one of Grandma’s letters, or sending her an mystery photo by email for a quick identity check. And I miss the funny stories that seemed to come back to her at the oddest moments.Birthdays always prompted recollections of a party with her childhood friend Princess Usha, the Maharani of Indore, India. Mom loved stories about the Princess, and the blog posts she helped write remain among the most popular articles at The Family Curator blog:
Mom loved birthdays. Any birthday for any one. She was the original Party Maven when it came to throwing wonderful birthday parties for her two daughters, and my sister and I always knew that August was Birthday Month. I especially remember a surprise Sweet Sixteen party with a formal dinner served to a gaggle of giggling teenage girls.
Mom clearly loved plotting and scheming, so I should have been prepared for The Big One she pulled with footnoteMaven at Shades of the Departed for Twice Told Tuesday: A Birthday Story. But, truly, do you expect your mother to conspire with your genealogy friends?
I would love to wish you, Mom, a Happy Birthday, in person once again. And, oh how I’d love to ask you to clear up a few more family history mysteries, or take us on a tour of your twenty four (or was it twenty three) childhood homes?
Happy Birthday, Mercy Winsor Suzanne
Note: Updated and refreshed, this encore post is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it, too.