Brown: Who Are You? Titles And Identities

Bonnie Brown and the 2015 graduates of the Ole Miss Women’s Council (OMWC) scholarship program of which she was the Mentoring Coordinator

I retired last year, and am pleased to report that the transition has gone very well.  I have easily shifted from my part-time job (I retired from full-time employment in 2003) and began a new routine. Morning coffee and breakfast with my husband, then we each get on with doing whatever plans we have for the day which includes chores around the house, errands, and/or other tasks as we wish.   

It occurred to me that I no longer have a “title.”  I readily admit that titles have never meant much to me.  To many people, their title becomes their identity.  It makes sense that a person’s identity can be tied to their title and their occupation.  After all, when we first meet someone, one of the first questions is “What do you do?”  

It seems my titles through the years have been Coordinator this or Assistant that. When I began my part-time position, the HR specialist in the office asked me what my title was. I told her I didn’t have a title.  She then asked what I thought my title should be. Without missing a beat, I announced “Her Royal Highness.”  I have always loved the formalities of the Royals.  She snickered as she selected another title a little more in line with my duties but from that day forward referred to me as “HRH.”  Loved that lady!  

Although I thought to keep the HRH title, I felt it was time for a change. I should find a title more suitable for my new station in life. I didn’t want to embrace Roseanne Barr’s “Domestic Engineer” handle and certainly wanted to think of myself in more glamorous terms. I was reminded of the more sophisticated Martha Stewart; however, she was a lot more ambitious than I wished to be, given her television shows, her books, and then there’s her Martha Stewart Living magazine to which I subscribe.  

Brown with her husband Tom, son Dennis and his wife Lillie, their sons Bennett and Andrew; son Jeffrey with his wife Francie and their children Piper, Brynn, and Knox

The first thing I do when I get my magazine is to look at the calendar of Martha’s activities.  Who knew a person could intentionally have such a busy calendar!  I consider myself an organized individual but I honestly have never scheduled my activities in such detail. Who knew that one could spend a day cleaning, sharpening, and oiling one’s garden tools to be put away for the winter?  How many garden tools could Martha have?  And then there are those dinner parties, scheduled trips, hikes, and other exercise activities not to mention television appearances.  I actually tuned in once to the Today Show to see if she really was on there for her scheduled cooking segment.  Yep, she was!   

Brown and her granddaughters Piper and Brynn at Grandparents’ Day in the fall of 2016 at Tupelo Christian Preparatory School.

I continued to ponder the title conundrum and thought of “housewife” and “housekeeper,” but they sounded so ordinary. One that I seriously considered and even tried out was “Domestic Diva.”  Now that had a ring to it! But did I want that title to be my identity?  After more consideration, I was sure I had found the title that I would be most proud of and feel that it was the one I had most anticipated. It certainly was the one that made me feel majestic: Grandmother! This title surpassed all others when I consider how very blessed I am to have five beautiful grandchildren. And as they say, grandchildren complete the circle of love. What better title could I possibly have!

By Bonnie Brown, an Ole Miss employee since 1972. 

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