My given name is Elizabeth. It means “God’s Gift.” I wish I could say that I truly was God’s Gift to my parents, but I was not. I just couldn’t be anything other than contrary. No matter what they asked, told, or even begged me to do, I would “sull up” and just not do it. (“We have done those things we ought not to have done, and we have not done those things we ought to have done, and there is no help in us.”)
My teen years were tumultuous. I’m afraid I majored in “drinking and frat parties” the first 3 years I was in college. The best thing that ever happened to me was that I came down with a major case of infectious mononucleosis and I had to drop out of college for a year. By that time I was able to focus on school, and buckle down. I still have nightmares of that quarter when I had mono. I had skipped so many classes I had no idea when tests would be, and no idea where the final would be. In my dreams I still wander from building to building trying to find my final and then trying to make heads or tails of the questions when I hadn’t been to class all quarter!
It took me a lot of time before I finally got it through my head that I needed to be a human being. Momma used to say that the very day I turned 21, I turned into a different person. I was able to focus and to begin making the kinds of grades I was really capable of making. My grades continued to pull up in my Master’s program – despite losing 1/2 of a quarter to a raging kidney infection and having to retake one class.
I thank God that I did “turn around” and become the kind of person I was capable of becoming. I hope and pray that at the end of Momma’s life I was the “gift from God” that my name meant.