Over the past fifty years, numerous people have asked how I got the name “Melda.” Did my mother pull a name out of a hat? Nope. Was I named after my Grandmother? No. Was it a family name? Sort of.
Long before I was born, one of Mom’s cousins gave birth to a baby girl and named her Melda Madeline. However, the family chose to call her by her second name — Madeline. Mom always wished they had called her Melda. From that time forward, she decided that if she ever had a baby girl, she would name her Melda.
And that, gentle readers, is the short version of how I got my name.
There are advantages and disadvantages of having an unusual name. For example, if I am in a sea of strangers at the mall and someone calls out “Melda,” I know they are looking for me. If it happens on a good hair day, I may choose to respond. If on the other hand, I have greasy hair and decided to wear pajamas under my coat, I can pretend not to hear. I look in the opposite direction and keep on trucking. I do not want anyone I know to see me like that.
One thing is guaranteed. Unusual names will be mispronounced and misspelled on a regular basis. Lots of people called me something similar to Melda. My mother did not take kindly to anyone who called me “Melba” and “Nelda.” Although this drove her crazy, there was one worse transgression. My meek little mother went ballistic if anyone shortened my name to “Mel.” There was no pardon for that sin.
After all these years, I have developed an effective system to use when someone asks how to spell my name or requests my email. You may have to read it more than once. It goes like this:
A VERY long time ago, I attended a ladies’ group and the leader always got my name wrong. Every week, Mrs. Rogers called me Donelda. I failed to understand any connection between Melda and Donelda, but it must have made sense in her head. Perhaps it had something to do with her husband’s name —Donald. Hey, we could have been twins, Donald and Donelda. And there was Melva, Milda, Hilda, Mathilda, Mildred, Zelda, Esmeralda…
Prior to our move to Bobcaygeon in 2004, I worked for the Northumberland Child Development Centre. I visited families of children with special needs throughout Northumberland County.
It was during this time I acquired the absolute weirdest version of Melda. Even if I gave you a million hints, you would never guess it. One afternoon, I arrived at a home to meet with a child and her mother. The child’s mother spotted me as I approached the house. She hollered to the little girl who was playing in the basement,“Come upstairs. Muldoon is here.”
Muldoon? How, pray tell, did Melda morph into Muldoon? To the mother’s credit, they both began with “M” and had “L” as the third letter. At least Melba, Nelda, Zelda and Donelda bear some resemblance to Melda.
In all your years, have you ever met someone named Muldoon? No? That is what I thought. I decided to investigate a little further and discovered that Muldoon is an Irish surname. Coincidentally, I am of Irish heritage, but you cannot tell by looking at me. I lack the red curly hair, freckles and green eyes of a true Colleen.
During a brief Google search, I found three prominent individuals bearing the last name Muldoon. I had never heard of any of them. However, I uncovered a number of interesting similarities.
First, Sir Robert Muldoon was the former Prime Minister of New Zealand. He was born in 1921, the same year as my Dad. Neither one had a particularly distinguished academic record.
Second, Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet and professor of poetry. He is an editor, critic, and translator as well. He has written several books of poetry. His most recent collection is called 1000 Things Worth Knowing. Dad wrote hundreds of poems during his 91 years of living. I feel confident he knew at least a thousand things worth knowing.
Third, Patrick Muldoon is an American actor and singer of Irish heritage. He is one handsome dude. I learned we share September 27th birthdays.
Based on this information, it would appear my mother should have named me Muldoon. I confess I am forever grateful she did not have this information. I much prefer Melda. To be honest, I would take Melba, Nelda, Melva, Milda, Hilda, Mathilda, Mildred, Zelda, Donelda or Esmeralda over Muldoon.
So now you know why my name is Melda. It would be wonderful if you would take a moment and tell us the story of your name. Even better, tell us about your middle name.
Dare you! Double dare! Triple-dog-dare!