My "New" New Year’s Resolutions

Submitted into Contest #231 in response to: Write a story in the form of a list of New Year's resolutions.... view prompt



I, Marjorie Dunlop Baines-Rutherford, do hereby resolve that this year I will:

1. Change my name.

I’ve always disliked Marjorie, which my father chose. He named me after his deceased, sainted grandmother, with whom I was frequently compared and found wanting. Even Mama, my only advocate, could not dissuade him. She was a gentle buffer against my father’s harsh disapproval till her death when I was five.

My nickname is even worse, rhyming as it does with “large” and “barge.” Given my plumpness as a teenager, my classmates referred to me as “large Marge” and “Marge the barge.” That was decades ago, but the wounds never really heal, do they? My legal name change can’t come fast enough.

Surprisingly, my new name came to me almost immediately—just popped into my head! I’ve always admired Amelia Earhart, the woman who “went where no woman had gone before.” Imagine, flying solo across the Atlantic, back when aviation was still so young. Amelia Earhart was one feisty lady. I’m nowhere near her ideal, but I am working on feisty. Since Amelia’s a little too formal for me, I’ll go by Amy, which means “beloved.” So long, large Marge! And for my new last name, I’m ditching Dunlop for Windsor. It’ll make people think tiaras rather than tires. Dear Marcus disapproved of both outspoken women and the monarchy, which makes my new names all the sweeter.

2. Sell Shadowcrest.

My historic family home, magnificent though it is. I grew up in its stately rooms and sipped tea in its lush gardens, a child of privilege, wanting for nothing. The estate has been in the Dunlop family for generations. I never moved out; Father married me off soon after I brought the family’s good name into disrepute by having a baby out of wedlock. I remained in that house under his disapproving eye, like a chastened child. I gave birth to a sweet little boy who was quietly swept out of my life and replaced with a husband when I became Mrs. Marcus Baines-Rutherford. Marcus was Father’s prize employee, a young man who was definitely going places. My father saw in him a son who could keep the family business going, so our marriage was really more of an adoption ceremony than a wedding. Baby adopted out and husband adopted in.

Though Marcus genuinely idolized my father, he had only disdain for me, never quite letting me forget that I was damaged goods. I was simply a means to an end, a way to become Father’s son and heir. They were two peas in a pod, Marcus and Father. Both figured I was too stupid to do anything but produce heirs, as I’d at least proven myself in the fertility department. Marcus Rutherford was the son my father never had. He wanted to impress the old man so badly that he added his middle name to his last to make him Marcus Baines-Rutherford, a member of the hyphenated aristocracy. It wasn't all bad. Eventually, I gave birth to little Eric, the joy of my life. What a sweet, happy child he was, so unlike his stuck-up, distant father and mean, judgmental grandfather.

I moved out of Shadowcrest three months ago, when Marcus died. After Father's death a decade ago, I continued to feel his icy presence. Now, it’s as though Marcus has joined him in haunting that cheerless house; it's simply impossible to think a positive thought within those walls. Father would be rolling in his grave if he knew I was selling the place, though I’d be lying if I said that bothered me in the least. And I think that somewhere, Mother is smiling.

3. Move to New Zealand.

I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country, and I’m such a Lord of the Rings fan—the films as well as the books. Marcus thought I was ridiculous, reading such drivel when I could be bettering my dull self. His idea of humour was giving me Organizing for Dummies for my birthday, along with a reading schedule. “Otherwise, you may not get to it at all, my little airhead!” he hooted.

Can’t say I’ll miss the snow, and this is a new start, isn’t it? Eric used to urge me to try new things. “Mum,” he’d say, “Why not take a trip somewhere? Get Dad to take you away; it’s not like he can’t afford it.” Dear Eric, he was the only one in my corner. So unlike his father and grandfather. The only time I ever stood up to Marcus and Father was when they threatened to disown him for deciding to study education. He wanted to help kids and felt he had a gift for teaching. I think Marcus and dear old Dad were so taken aback to hear mousy Marge roar that they relented, convinced that Eric would eventually tire of the idea anyway and invest in a career with a real future.

There’s a photo of the two of us at his graduation, Eric in his cap and gown, his arm around my waist; and me, grinning like the proud mama I was. His father and grandfather boycotted the ceremony to communicate their disapproval. A few days before he was to leave to teach at an inner-city school across the country, Eric tripped at the top of the staircase in our front hall and hit his head on the marble banister. He never regained consciousness, and we lost him two days later. I don’t know how I survived that loss. Well, Eric, you’d be proud of me now. Go big or go home, you always said. I’m about to embark on my biggest adventure ever, and I’m never going home again.

4. Reunite with Barry.

He’s my main reason for choosing New Zealand as my new home. Barry reached out to me a few years back, but, coward that I was, I stuffed his letter into a drawer and never told Marcus. The letter explained that he’d been adopted by a loving family that had emigrated to New Zealand when he was a toddler. I’d always wondered about my first son. Had he been treated well? Was he happy? Barry wrote that he’d had a good life, and that brought some healing to my soul. And now he wanted to meet his birth mother. I can’t count the number of times I read and reread that letter.

I’ve made arrangements with a realtor in New Zealand who’s found me the dearest little place on the outskirts of Wellington, not far from Barry. Since Marcus’ death, I’ve spoken to my boy several times online, and even met his adoptive parents. I’ve assured them I’m not coming to steal their son. No, I’ll be busy catching up on life. I’ve got big plans; after all, I’ll have a whole new country to discover. Maybe I’ll even learn to fly.

January 05, 2024 20:59

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Martha Sanipe
15:43 Jan 12, 2024

Thanks for reading and for the good wishes, Karen!


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Karen Kinley
02:04 Jan 11, 2024

This story is so sad yet so full of hope. Poor Marge (soon to be Amy) to have lost first one son and then another, only to have the first come back into her life. She sounds like a very courageous woman to have survived all that life handed her. Good luck!


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