This post is long overdo but as with everything else, I hardly have time to keep up with life… Let’s move back to when I was at University in the US shall we? I met T. and he told me his name. An avid genealogist and historian, I immediately wanted to know his origins. Where did the Sinclaires come from? He just shook his head and told me that it was too complicated and would I have dinner with him so he could explain? Sure. What I was told the next day was insane but true. After WWII, his dad, Jack Setterich, was stationed with the US Air Force up in Alaska. Having married during the war, without thinking it seems, just like a lot of other young people did, he had a bored wife with him, up there in the cold. I am guessing that her one and only hobby and work, was not possible. That of spending all his money and more. How many shops existed in post-war Alaska? How fun can it be to shop at the PX after the initial first times? His ex-wife, told me when we met, that every time they got stationed at a new place, she would check out which church was the closest situated to her house, and join it! Didn’t matter what religion really. Noone will ever know now, if that is what happened in Alaska when she joined the Kabbalarians. A sect now frequented by Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and the like. Maybe they have cleaned up their act nowadays? But back then, it seemed like they didn’t really know what they were all about. For those of you who know your Judaism, you know that Kabbalah is the mystic movement in that religion. It is so deep, that only a few are allowed to study it, because one can go nuts from the studies (as told to me by my Jewish professor in Religion History). I agree. I studied some Kabbalah at University when I took Judaism, and I understood nothing. I was ready to rip out my hair for the test when my professor just said, “don’t bother trying to understand, just memorize it!”. So I did and passed the course! It’s doubtful that my anti-Semite of a mother-in-law, understood that Kabbalah is Judaism! I don’t think that she would have joined the Kabbalarians then or? But she did and followed what she liked. And she liked the ideas they put forth, that one must have a first name with an A and then an E in it, as the only vowels, if one was going to have a happy life. So she dumped her own names Wanda and Jean (should have fitted them I would have thought?) and took the name Shelagh instead, and forced her husband, who had nothing to do with all this nonsense, to take the name Lance. But she was still not satisfied. They also had to change their surname and she picked Sinclaire so she could go around bragging that she had Scottish blood. My mother-in-law was not particularly clever you see. Oh yes. Sly as a fox. Personality of a snake. BUT she failed to check that the Scottish family are Sinclair without an e at the end. And the French family spells it St. Clair. Just because one wants to be of Scottish origin, does not make it so. She even went and looked at Clan things like tartans and the such! How sick is that?
What effects did the name change have? The Air Force got suspicious like the military always is. Always on the look out for irregularities. They were in the middle of the Cold War by then. McCarthy prosecuting people for suspected connections with communism. Jack, was a war hero that had bombed Japan numerous times. Why did he suddenly go and change his name? He was passed up for promotions. He who wanted to make the AF his career never reached higher than Lieutenant Colonel, which was a bitter pill for him to swallow. I think he regretted that marriage daily. When the sons were born, Kevan and Thane (note the name spellings), it became impossible to leave her. Until he found out that his AF retirement check could be signed over on her, and he could finally be free.
Jack’s siblings kept on calling him by his proper name. And in his heart I’m sure he always remained Jack Setterich, son of Jacob Setterich from Aachen, Germany and grandson of Matias Setterich. When T. had told me this sad story, he told me that his intention was to change his name to Setterich as soon as his mother died. That it was the only thing that felt right. How can one love a name that doesn’t mean anything? That has nothing but an insane background. A potty lady with too much time on her hands. When our wedding day approached and we were getting the license, T. blushed and said “My mother does not want you to take our name! She wants to be the ONLY Mrs. Sinclaire”. I got so furious that I insisted. But after a couple of years, when I had gone through hell with that woman on almost a daily basis, then I started to regret my decision. I was disgusted with her and everything about her. Why should I carry this ludicrous name? My mum thought it posh but not me! When we moved to Sweden, all people would ask us if we were related to the aristocratic Sinclairs here in Skane. How embarrassing was it then to tell them the truth? And when they asked about the castle out east that belong to the Sinclairs?
3 years ago, Johannes went on a mission to Germany. He and I had then discussed the name over and over again and how he wanted to take my maiden name Tilly. That he did not want to explain his grandmother’s pottiness anymore. How embarrassing it is for us who don’t even believe in those things, to be associated with Kabbalah and how they give every letter a number and count together letters to get new meanings… But his new passport was in the name of Sinclaire and he therefor had to send in his papers to go on a mission, with that name on them. But once he got to Germany, he couldn’t stand it anymore. Everyone assuming he was American with that name, and thereby treating him poorly. And he refused to tell them how we got the name. He said it was way too embarrassing. My mother-in-law died two years ago. Alright, I said to T. What are we waiting for? Let’s do it! You promised all those years ago! But now he had grown chicken. Someone at work had said that “You will not be able to get a job with the name of Setterich. Sounds too foreign”. So he got cold feet. I waited a year. Feeling positively ill for having been lied to. Being promised something and then, the promise being broken. I felt more and more that I needed to go back to Tilly as well. Why ever did I turn my back on MY history? My family? Women in this country carried their surnames through their lives, without changing them, up till the 1900s. Taking the husband’s name is a modern invention here. And perhaps that is why it’s become so common that a couple nowadays look at his name, her name, and take the one they like best, for family name. OR if they hate them both, make a new name.
Last year, when T. took me (on wobbly legs), to see where our daughter Serena Rose would be buried, in the ash grove at the cemetery, I walked by this tomb stone on the way from the parking lot. I stopped in shock. My grandfather was born 1905 in Höllviken but his father was born in our village. And the oldest children were born around here too, after the wedding, in the neighbour village. When my grandfather was born, the growing family, had moved down to where my great-great-grandparents lived, my grandfather’s mother’s family. My grandfather was named Algot Ferdinand REINHOLD. Unusual names. Not in the family before. Especially the last one of his first names is very unusual. 4 years later, another Reinhold was born and he is buried here in the village of my grandfather’s father! And with the same surname: Tilly! We are related but how? In my sorrow over my loss of little Serena Rose, I also felt comforted and happy. She is not laying alone in that big cold place. She has family just around the corner. In my mind I felt that Reinhold is close, he looks after my little girl. Like the rest of my passed ancestors do. She is safe and loved. I just can’t begin to describe how safe it feels to have a Tilly over there with her and I made the decision that MY daughter is not going to lay over there with a foreign, weird name that belongs to noone but an evil, wicked woman, that did not even want grandchildren. I told T. that Serena Rose’s surname would be Tilly and that I would take back my own name again. I will not wait till hell freezes over for him to take back Setterich. It will never happen. He doesn’t dare to. And he is too conservative to take mine. The children are all in shock and can not make up their minds what to do themselves. More and more want to put Tilly in before their other surname. Time will tell what they will do. But I felt ill for a year after Serena Rose’s death. I felt that there was something I had to do. I felt ill over calling myself Sinclaire and pretend to be something and someone I am not. Every time I walked in through the cemetery gate, I walked by Reinhold and whispered “Hello relative of mine! Who are you? We are the same you and I! Serena Rose is right over here too!”. We buried Serena Rose as late as July last year and not until January could we afford to buy the plaque for her. But the plaque has the right name on it. Serena Rose Tilly, my daughter. When it was time to renew my driver’s license I confronted T. and he still could not make up his mind. So I sent for the papers, sent the name change in, and I have now been Camilla Tilly officially for over 3 months.
Yes, it feels very strange to not have the same surname as my children do, except Serena Rose. Yes, it feels weird that people will from now on think that we live in sin and are not married. On the other hand, Johannes might soon follow suit. He has always been of the same opinion as me, when it comes to the name Sinclaire. Now it will be smoother for him to change, if he decides to do it. And finally I do not feel ill anymore. I am connected to my past again. I am connected to MY family and free of HER. My wonderful ancestors, not having to be connected with a weirdo. Connected to mysterious Reinhold. And Serena Rose is part of our little group now. In a way, it doesn’t really change a thing BUT it gives peace of mind. I’m back where I belong! T. did not want to go there with me, which is disappointing, but I always knew he would be too scared to. And the teenagers need time to think because they never thought I would do what I said I would do. T. wants to be in limbo. Then the nastiness might go away on it’s own. He’s always been an ostrich sticking his head in the sand. But this thing needs action. You have to make a decision and then DO it. It will not do itself!