Originally, I was to be named Julianne Marie after a nun from Holy Redeemer parish in North Portland where my parents attended. The week I was due, my dad was in Alaska at a church sponsored Cursillo retreat. My mom, together with my grandma was managing the house with six kids who were coming off a case of the chicken pox. Nice timing dad.
So with my dad away, a one-year-old with a severe case of the chicken pox and five other kids who demanded attention, a nine month pregnant with her seventh mom did what any good catholic would do, she prayed. She prayed to Mother Mary Rose, the Foundress of the Congregation of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. She prayed that if she could just hold off going into labor until my dad returned and that if she had a girl, she would name the baby after her. Now that’s a lot of “ifs” and knowing my mom would not mess with the Foundress of the Congregation of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary she prayed and her prayers were answered. My dad arrived home and two days later I was born. Just one problem in the promise to Mother Mary Rose—my older sister was named Mary. Not a problem for my mom, she flipped the names and I was christened Rosemary. And for my entire life, it has been important to my mom that my name not be shortened and that I never be called Rose.
Today, I received my Chinese name. You are given a Chinese name to use on your business card and when filing papers with varying bureaus you will do business with while living in Shanghai. And again today, I was faced with making a change to the original offering.
The email stated “NIKE admin has given you a temporary Chinese name to file the papers with the bureau. It’s 玛丽 (Ma Li) which sounds similar to Mary. Should you be happy with this name, we’ll continue using it, if you have a name you would prefer we’ll make the change.”
This caused me to pause. No offense to my sister Mary, but I’ve been explaining the Mary vs. Rosemary naming my entire life. I’ve been mistaken for Mary on one occasion that involved a long, uncomfortable hug, which if you know me, know I’m not really a hugger and in contrast, Mary is someone you would go to if you ever needed a hug.
I sent back an email requesting to use the name Rose. Note to mom – I know. It’s not ideal, but what was I to do?
And so, while doing business and completing official documents with varying bureaus within China I will go by 玫瑰 (Lu Si). Although my mom and I may not be comfortable with the shortening of my name to Rose, I do like the idea of being called Lucy. Imagine all the fun Lucy will have while spending the next few years in China. Now, who will be my Ethel?