Tuesday, March 11, 2014

IBBY ITCH ~ March 11, 1912 ~ March 8, 1999

Elizabeth Rich was born the month before the sailing of the Titanic. She was the eldest of six (and four surviving) daughters. Had she been a man, I have no doubt she would have taken over the family business. (I find it ironic that the one sister, who hated the little village of Woolrich, ended up marrying a Harvard man, who eventually did run the company and had to live there, at least, part of the year.)

My Mother was known as Aunt Betty to Dad’s side of the family. At Holyoke she’d been Libby. For one of her graduations-- either at Mount Holyoke or Yale (or could it have been Dickinson Seminary?) -- she changed her name altogether. She had always wanted a middle name. She liked the name Virginia. But instead of adding a middle name, she just dropped the first. Her parents, looking in the program, wondered who was Virginia Rich and where was Elizabeth? To her grandchildren she was “Nai-Nai” in Mandarin from Sherry’s Taiwan days, or “Goggie,” her own Mother Julia’s sobriquet. In my twittier moments, I called her “Mater mei,” which I just realized sounds dangerously close to “Mother of God” (it’s only the Latin for “Mama mia.”)

But to most of her friends throughout her adult life in Pennsylvania, Mother was known as Ibby. In 1915, as a three year old, she was asked to introduce herself as Elizabeth Rich. She did the best that she could. Out came:“ Ibby Itch.”

At the end of her life she was Elizabeth again. I’m not convinced that was entirely her choice. But, after all, that
was her name. She would have been 101 years old today!


Mother with her parents and three younger sisters on the porch of their house in Woolrich, Pennsylvania.

An atypical photo of my Mother on the path leading from our cottage on Pine Island, Lake Winnepausaukee in New Hampshire taken more than fifty years ago. It captures a whimsical side of Mother... not always apparent.


Magdalena said...

Hi Rob! :-) There is an award waiting for you on my blog. This "Friendly Blogger" award shows the spirit of friendship with bloggers all over the world. All my best wishes to you! :-)

arcane illusion said...

Hey Rob
I have just started reading your blog . and I loved the picture and the words used in the article . BTW I am shifa.

Titian in the Frari (Venezia)