The “SSO” Story: An Annual Retelling

June 2014 067This is a story about my mom and the day she first became a grandmother.

I was in the hospital having my first child and apparently my own mom was very nervous about this, so she called the hospital to check on me.

One of the things that happens when you’re very nervous, I guess, is that you forget things, like your daughter’s married name, so my mom was delighted with herself that she remembered to ask for me by my correct last name.

(Don’t be too impressed, apparently she had called in a few times already and gotten nowhere because she asked for me by my maiden name.)

Okay, first obstacle overcome. Here’s where it got tricky. The nurse was NOT going to give out information that easily. No, my mom was going to have to work for it.

“Are you SSO?” the nurse asked.

My mom started to sweat. What is an SSO? She was quite willing to lie and identify herself as an SSO if that meant she could have information about me. But what if being an SSO was a bad thing and got her kicked off the phone with no information at all?

Oh, she agonized about the right thing to do.

Finally, she decided honesty is the best policy, and she admitted, “I don’t know what an SSO is.”

The nurse on the other end of the phone was probably very pleasant, but she sounds more and more like Lily Tomlin as the nasal telephone operator every time I tell this story.

“I am spelling your daughter’s name, Ma’am,” she said.

Relieved, my mom confirmed, R-U-S-S-O is, indeed, the correct way to spell my last name.


Kristin and Elsie June 1993

The baby is now a college graduate. She’s spending her birthday in Italy this year, touring art galleries and eating gelato and doing all the things I had hoped for her on the day she and I first met.




My mom is now grandmother to fourteen Mom and Elsiegrandchildren, and she knows how to spell all of their last names.