On being named "Cordelia"

by Cordelia Mendoza
A woman in Arizona, Barbara, visited my store. I wasn't there the day she came in, but she emailed me  and told me her mother's name was Cordelia, said her mom would have loved my shop. She was disappointed as I am, that we didn't meet. It's funny, isn't it, what makes us feel connected to another person, a certain kinship, if you will. Barbara's email prompted me to revisit how I came to be named Cordelia. I thought I'd share it with you all and with Barbara.

I am my grandmother's namesake, Cordelia Susan Baker Scott, my dad's mother (photo right). When I was in my twenties my mom told me she originally didn't care for the name Cordelia. My older sister, the second born of us five kids, one year after Michael, was named Sally; my mom somehow got away with not having to name her 'Cordelia'; three years later came my brother, Jon, then another three and a half years Cathy and I, twins, were born (notice the wonderfully common names my siblings have??? - Mike, Sally, Jon, Cathy).  I had a congenital heart defect and my parents were told I wouldn't live long enough to leave the hospital. My mom named me Cordelia, the dying twin. She did grow to love my name, however. She informed me when I was very young that Cordelia was a character in the Shakespearean play, King Lear, the youngest of Lear's three daughters and the only one faithful to him. Mother would often quote the play, “her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman”. In Celtic mythology Cordelia means heart or jewel of the sea. I am drawn to the ocean, no doubt about that.

Growing up with a name like Cordelia meant having umpteen nicknames like DeeDee, Cord, CD, CeCe, Cordy, Corky, Delia (my family's nickname for me, which is the only nickname I liked), Dilly, Corkydelia, Cordelius, Cornelius, Cornelia, Corny, even Cornuts and Scotty, from my last name, Scott. I'm also called Claudia or Camellia a lot, very common mistake with my name. I have always, since I can remember, preferred being called simply by my name, unaltered. When I was in junior high I quietly envied girls with cute names like Tammy, Suzie, Candy, names like that. No one could ever butcher names like that.
I grew to truly like my name and appreciate being named after my grandmother, especially knowing how much it meant to my dad. Who knew I'd be in the antiques business with the bonus of having such an appropriate name? What's important to me today is that I've grown into my name, it suits me perfectly and I'm proud to have it.

I didn't meet another Cordelia until I was in my early thirties, and it was over the telephone. I now know a Cordelia who lives in Ocean Beach; she's always gone by DeeDee. She loves to say, very loudly when she sees me, "hello C-O-R-D-E-L-I-A!"

To Barbara, I hope we'll get the chance to meet one day!


Kristi said...

:-) So glad you shared this.
I have known this story for a years, and knew you were "sick" as a baby, but I don't think I realized that you had a congential heart defect. Do you mind me asking what?

On another note, I am hoping when Miss Gracie is better we can make a trip your way. :-) Selfishly, I am so glad that plans for your store's closure changed! It is giving us a second chance to get down there beforehand!

Cordelia of Cottage Antiques said...

Hi, Kristi
I had a valve problem and was not expected to make it out of the hospital as a newborn, then later was given possibly life expectancy of 15 years. (Fooled 'em all, eh?)
Anyway, my valves were separated, I'm fortunate to not have false valves. They operated on me by packing me in a large tub of ice to get my body temperature to 30 degrees without a heart lung machine. It arrived in San Diego a couple of months after my surgery. It's the same method still still used today in third world countries. My parents selected a wonderful surgeon. My medical past is one reason I volunteer for the hospital. I want to pay it forward. Over the years I've done a lot of fundraising and volunteerism for the Heart Assn., too.
I'm very fortunate.
We'd love to see you guys. Does your mom come down for Thanksgiving?
I hope Gracie's doing much better. You guys are incredible parents.