My mother passed away almost 7 years ago. Today I was cleaning out the garage and found yet another note from my mom.
Who's Name? Mine?
By Ruthie written February 2, 1995
Until I was 65 years old I thought I was named after my God Father's wife, Ruth Morris, my mother's matron of honor and wife of my Dad's friend and best man, Governor Morris, the writer. She was an actress of some repute. My mother told me she was very beautiful. I didn't know my mother's younger sister had claimed the name Ruth for her middle name. For years I basked in the lime light of the talented actress, now I had to adjust to "You were named after me!" from my abstinent Aunt Aldine "Ruth" Henriques Young. I am glad I didn't know this until this stage of my life.
My birth certificate reads: Ruth Underwood Brown-- the Underwood after my Grandmother Brown's family and my father's middle name. Mother used to tell me my Grandmother Brown wanted me to be named after Great Aunt Matilda, but they didn't think "Tilly" was a suitable name for their daughter, but Ruthie stuck. Those who knew me well called me Ruthie--my Aunt Aurora called me Ruthie until the day she died at 91 years young.
I was Ruth Underwood Brown until I was a little past 2 when in the baptismal font in St Patrick's Church in San Jose I became Ruth Marie Brown. I remember the glow of the stained glass window and my Aunt Aurora holding me.
Somewhere in recent years I became just Ruth. Where Ruthie was a term of endearment, Ruth gives deference to my years and status of Great Grandmother.
I have always liked my name. It is easy to spell, easy to pronounce, holds some dignity, and rhymes with Truth.
So, Ruth Underwood Brown changed to Ruth Marie Brown in 1927. My named changed again in 1944 at the Navy Chapel in Corpus Christi, Texas to Ruth Marie Brown Byles. Then Ruth Marie Brown Byles Becker has been on my driver's license since 1980.
I read a tribute my God Father wrote for his Ruth when she died and felt proud to have been named for such a person. My Aunt Aldine lived to 91 years old with Ruth as her middle name. She was determined, stubborn and fought for her way throughout her life. According to the New Dictionary of the English Language (1925) the name Ruth, of biblical derivation means Beauty. The two people who held my name were examples of strength and beauty. My wish is somehow the legacy of "this" Ruth will have been to show the beauty around us in trivial and everyday things and people.
And she did!