Don't I wish...

When I was eight, I found a book of names and their meanings.  Tina’s proper name is Christina.  It means “Christ-like or anointed one.”  And she was born on Good Friday! “Friday’s child is loving and giving.” I took great stock in old time poetry that made predictions about the future and people’s character without knowing a thing about them.  Tina was destined for a sanctified and charmed life.

Lisa, a variation of Elizabeth, means “consecrated to God.” She was born on a Monday and a national holiday.  “Monday’s child is fair of face.” She was fated to be beautiful and sacred.

Superstitious by nature and for theatrical effect, I believed The Hand of God guided us into the world. We were Catholic.  Both my sisters arrived on days when everybody was on vacation.  They could be honored good and proper because they were sent to Earth for some Divine Purpose and maybe to become movie stars.

What plans did God have for me? What did He whisper into my mother’s ear to make pick “Lorna?” I flipped to the L’s” with great expectations.  Lorna means “alone” and is the Old English word for “lost.”  Lee is the Old English word for “meadow.”  What?

I was born on a Thursday in mid-November. No holiday on my birthday. “Thursday’s child has far to go.”


No wonder I felt trivial. I was predestined to be wandering aimlessly in a field somewhere—lost and alone.

I launched a name-change campaign—I picked Angelique, which means “like an angel.”  With a first name like that, I didn’t even need a middle name.

My sisters treated my name-change crusade with a level of disrespect generally reserved for substitute teachers.  Mom ignored this “phase.”  I eventually accepted my given name and associated fate.  To the world, I was Lorna the Lost, but Angelique lingered in that bruised “if only” place inside the celestially short-changed.

Tina was special, and not just because she was born first.  She almost died and that’s a hard act to follow.  She was almost dying for five years, so she was kind of hard to miss.  I, being reliably healthy, was easy to overlook.  After
her operation and recovery, her talent was not dying.  She got her very own black and white TV set because she wasn’t dead. I wasn’t dead, but I didn’t get any special presents.

Lisa was special because she was the youngest. Her talent was being last. I couldn’t top that. She was also abnormally artistic.  By the time she could hold a crayon, she could draw things that were actually identifiable.  Her artistic genius was widely celebrated and unnecessarily encouraged.  She, too, had health problems.  Lucky Lisa had chronic ronchitis.  Her fevers and window-rattling coughs kept her in neck-and-neck competition with Tina’s mysterious disease.

Mom was so busy worrying if Tina and Lisa would live to be teenagers; I could have joined the circus in the morning and wouldn’t be missed until dinner. Would they even think to look for Angelique?