Saturday, January 22, 2005

Mike Names Mike

My family is off to the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia – apple country – next month as a sort of rolling memorial service for my mother. She was the far too logical reason for my being a Michael Ball.

She died a few months ago in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she lived the last third of her 80 years. I delivered the eulogy to family and friends there last month. Now for those who knew her best for the first third of her life, including many relatives, we’ take to the hills.

She was known in her West Virginia youth as Mike. Her maiden name was Michael. She was small and slender, but not weak or timid. She played tackle football with her brother and his friends through her teens. So Mike it was to her friends.

Of course, Ball was my father'’s last name, and my middle name, Robert, was his Christian name. Perhaps more than a Junior, III or IV, I am more or less made up. Mother'’s maiden name/father'’s first name/father’'s surname and here I am.

I find that amusing but my mother apologized for it. She said the military OB had to wrest me from her with forceps. So they gave her a whiff of anesthetic. Then in true Army fashion, they insisted that she name the newborn on the spot. “"I was drugged,"” she said. The first name that came to mind when she found she had a son was that combination.

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