My name is Mrs. Wilson. period. Then we can go from there. If you are my niece or nephew, I am more than happy to hear you call me Aunt Daleen. If you are one of our God-children or friends’ children, you may certainly call me Miss Daleen. Lots of people call me Miss Daleen. My husband has co-workers who call me Miss Daleen, the man who tuned my piano, the children in Sunday school classes as well as Daffodil Princesses I chaperoned called me Miss Daleen. There are Rainbow girls from the past and lots of my customers call me Miss Daleen. Once I am a bit more comfortable with the people, I say, please call me Miss Daleen.
However, when an envelope comes in the mail addressed to Daleen Wilson, before I even open the piece of mail, you are instantly on my “poor manners list”. No, I would never be so crass as to tell you, I will just feel sorry for you, somehow you have forgotten those manners that were taught to you. When you try to pronounce my first name and you are trying to sell me something over the telephone, sorry Charlie, you don’t get my money.
I am proud to be called Mrs. Wilson. I earn that right every single day. I treat people with respect and kindness. Quite honestly, I appreciate the respect of being addressed as Mrs. Wilson. I have been married for over 30 years. I bring my own unique twist to the family that I married into. It was never even a question if I would honor my husband’s family by taking his name. It is a tradition that I for one am willing to respect and hold fast to. I remember daily that it is a privilege to have this name and I work at earing that privilege every single day of my life.
When I hear people complain about “today’s youth” I am sad. We need to start somewhere. A good place to start is with respect and show that respect through using a proper name. No matter how difficult, Miss Duntermann was my first grade teacher and we all called her such. No one dared to call her Miss D. Heck I don’t even know her first name to this day! Our teachers, neighbors, mentors, advisors all were named Mr. or Mrs. and sometimes Miss. We never used Miz Wilson, when their proper name was Mrs. Wilson. To this day, when old friends of my parents or former neighbors, say oh please, call me “Mary”. I can’t. I just can’t. Mrs. Megan will always be Mrs. Megan. Mrs. Archer will always be Mrs. Archer. If my mother ever found out I was disrespectful even today, I would have some behavior to answer for. I can feel it in my bones. I just know my mother would be disappointed in me.
When we lived in the southern part of the country, every child, shop keeper, banker, dry cleaner, worker who came to our home called me Ma’am. I was a bit younger and it took some getting used to. However, I had to get used to it. It came naturally to those children as they were raised with the idea of respecting others. Today, when I visit the military base, the first moment I pause at the gate, the military gate guard calls me Ma’am. The person who holds the door for me to the commissary, calls me Ma’am. People I encounter never fail to call me Ma’am. I in turn feel the need to treat them with respect and kindness and to exchange pleasantries.
Some US presidents I have voted for and liked, others not so much. I would still address every one of them as Mr. President. It makes me cringe just a little when I hear people or reporters casually refer to the leader of the free world as “Obama”. If for no other reason, the office deserves our respect.
Of course if you are my family or friend that I have known for years and years, I love that you call me by my first name. I value our relationship enough, that some of those people have been in my life for so long they even call me by a nick name. It makes it feel special. When other people had to call my brother-in-law, SGT. Major, I secretly knew I was special. At the dinner table, out to dinner or just watching a hockey game, I got to call him John.
If you are reading this and you are say 50 years old or older, you are nodding your head and thinking yes, that is true. Yes, we need to somehow find our way back to basic good manners. If you are under 40, you might be thinking to yourself “what’s the big deal, boy she is uptight”? It is a BIG deal. When you send me an invitation, announcement, formal piece of mail, resume cover letter, and you start the whole thing with my first name, I already have decided not to take you too seriously. You have already conveyed to me that you have no respect for me and you just want something from me.
It is of importance. It is a lesson we all need to remember. I think starting with young children is easy. The trick will be to teach teenagers and young adults how much it means to others to use their proper and given names. When you have to call someone Mrs. Klein, you might be less likely to hurl nasty remarks at her while she sits alone in a bus seat.
We have to start somewhere. father to son: “All I have to give you is my good name. Keep it safe and pass it on.”
Today, I am grateful for: 160. Grace freely given 161. oatmeal almost every morning 162. good manners 163. a good joke 164. the library 165. fresh strawberries on oatmeal 166. friends who are in our corner when it counts 167. true compassion 168. kindness 169. humor 170. hot pink drinking straw