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Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016

What's in a name?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I have been going through a tough time lately. I have not been able to remember the name of a person I consider a friend. She is someone I worked closely with for several years. We knew each other's families. We still keep in touch from time to time. But recently I was telling an incident that involved my friend, and I couldn't remember her name. It worried me so much that I began to poll other friends to get her name. My condition must be contagious because other people were coming up blank also.

Last night when I was almost asleep, her name popped into my head. I said it aloud and my husband instantly knew what I was doing. He hadn't remembered it either. This morning I still remember her name and feel very happy about our friendship.

I began to think of other friends from the past or present whose names I have known. I got a note pad and wrote down conservative estimates of how many people I have known by name for even a short period of time.

I started with relatives: my present birth family, my in-laws, the families of my in-laws, the generation of my parents, Lester's relatives that I know or have known and of course our own children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, their relatives and in-laws, and even the pets we have had or that our relatives have had that we knew well.

Then I began to think of my childhood associates, both in Washington, D.C., and here in Vernon County. This included my own friends, my parents' and siblings' friends, neighbors and business people.

Next I began thinking about schoolmates in elementary, junior high, high school and two different colleges. Sometimes that also included the families of those friends.

With marriage, came people we knew in different places where we lived including 10 different congregations including some Interim Appointments Lester had in retirement.

I also have had several different types of employment during the years. Many of these positions involved working with other groups, other churches, a different segment of the population than I usually encountered, as well as the actual staff I worked with. This also includes an average of 35 people in each of 10-14 Elderhostels in the past ten years.

Then, last but not least are the folks I have known through organizations such as Soroptomist, AAUW, United Methodist Women beyond the local church, clubs I have belonged to, and those I meet while attending events such as CCPA productions, Bushwhacker Days, or even those I meet while traveling.

When I added all these names up I came to the total of 5,500 people whose names I have once known. I feel much better now. With this many names running around in my head, is it any wonder that once in a while I draw a blank on the name of someone who really is very special?

Middle Age Plus years should not be bothered with details.

There are too many good memories about all those people to remember, even if we can't remember their names.

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus