Rowland/Roland – I Will Write A More Appropriate About Page Later.
PARC HOSPITAL (ASYLUM)
I knock the door; a nurse peers through the wired glass; she fiddles with keys, the door unlocks. The nurse asked who was I there to see. ‘Mrs Hughes,’ I said, ‘my grandmother.’
‘There she is, by the window, enjoying the sunshine,’ I followed her to Nan.
‘He’s for you, Mary Catherine; your grandson is here to see you.’
She raised her head and called out my name, ‘Rowland Hughes, his name is Rowland Hughes; do you remember?’
The nurse smiled as she walked towards the door and opened it for another visitor. I was thrilled she recognized me.
‘Of course I remember Nan,’ I said, cupping both her hands in mine. She would never let me forget. When I stayed with her as a child, she took me to my new school. It is a memory I will always cherish.
…..‘His name is Rowland Hughes,’ she proudly announced to the headmistress. ‘He was named after my maiden name, Rowlands.’
The head pointed to my name on the register. ‘Yes Mrs Hughes, I have his name here.’ It was neatly printed half way down the page. Nan screwed up her eyes to examine it.
‘I thought as much,’ she said, ‘You’ve spelt his name wrong, there’s no ‘W’, you’ve forgotten the ‘W’, it’s Rowland, after my maiden name Rowlands, there has to be a W.’
The headmistress was polite but definite; Nan was polite but defiant. ‘No, no, I’m sorry but you’re wrong, there has to be a ‘W’ in his name.’ She waived her finger at the ceiling, ‘Rowland Hughes with a ‘W’, that’s his name. I helped him come into this world, the midwife was much too young, no shape on her; I named him Rowland, with a ‘W of course, that was the whole point, I wouldn’t have it any other way; isn’t that right Rowland.’ I nodded my head, recalling my mother’s warning not to let her know that my name was spelt without the ‘W’. Apparently, it was the midwife who suggested it; ‘Leave out the ‘W’, it’s much nicer. I didn’t know who, or what a midwife was; only that she caused these problems with my name.
…..The nurse tapped my shoulder, ‘How do you find her today Love?’
‘Good,’ I replied, ‘she knows me.’
‘That’s nice for you Love. We’ll have to change her pad shortly, little accidents happen; can’t be very comfortable for her.’ She pulled a screen around Nan, and called to another nurse for help.
…..The headmistress drew a line through my name and re-printed, Rowland Hughes, with a ‘W.’ She apologized for the mistake.
Nan turned to me. ‘Well, Rowland Hughes, your name is important isn’t It.?
…..The screen was folded back. They’ll be having their dinner soon Love, you can feed her if you like, that’ll be a big help. Don’t mind doing that for us do you Love?’
Feeding her was like feeding a baby; it made me feel protective; I wanted to tell everybody in the room, she wasn’t really like this. Food dribbled from the side of her mouth; I scooped it back with the oversized spoon and remembered how she would do the same when she’d given me a spoonful of medicine.
…..‘He can start tomorrow, but can have his milk today.’ The headmistress said with a smile. ‘Show him around, Mrs Hughes, there’s a new rocking-horse in the hall. Do you like rocking-horses… Rowland?
‘Yes Miss,’ I replied nervously.
‘Yes,’ Nan said, ‘I’ll show him around, come on, Rowland Hughes.’
…..‘I think she’s eaten enough,’ the nurse remarked. ‘She’s getting tired now; she’s had an eventful day, haven’t you Mary Catherine?’
Nan’s head drooped forward; she was fast asleep.
‘Bless her; every man that’s come in today she’s called Rowland Hughes. ‘Sign the visitor’s book before you leave Love.’
I printed, in large capital letters; MY NAME IS ROWLAND HUGHES.
She died some weeks later. At her funeral, her younger sister, Maggie, remarked about my name. ‘Now tell me?’ she asked, ‘There’s no W in your name, is there? Our Mary always believed there was.’
‘Yes, there is,’ I lied, ‘Rowland with a W, that’s my name.
When I returned to my hometown school, I became Roland and back to my grandmother’s Rowland again. I never really got confused; it was as if I became a different child, from a dark violent place to a place filled with light.
My Mother died in 1974, she always wrote my name as Roland on birthday cards. Some years later, my father started sending me cards, writing my name as Rowland. My brother and sister also write Rowland. I mentioned it to them and they always thought it was Rowland with the ‘W.’ That’s great by me.
So, when someone asks me, how do I spell my name, I say, that depends.