Sunday, April 15, 2007

reva's daughter

The line, though well-rehearsed, never felt quite natural to me, no matter how many times I recited it over the course of the past week. Perhaps because it is a line I’ve not used much in recent years, perhaps because other lines have taken its place with the passage of time—for whatever the reason, though it always rolled easily off my tongue, it always sounded unfamiliar to my ear, as if I were introducing myself by another person’s name or speaking about myself in past tense. “Hi, I’m Lorie,” I would begin, smiling, my hand outstretched. “I’m Reva’s daughter.”

The response became downright comical after a while. “I knew you was Reva’s daughter,” each relative would reply, smiling back at me. “You look just like her.” “Yeah, I get that a lot,” I would chuckle in return. And I do—which is the funny part. Were we talking about my aunt and her daughter, this would not be nearly as amusing, because my cousin is the spitting image of her mother. But my mother and I—well, suffice it to say that even though she has gotten stopped more than once at the grocery store or the mall with, “You must be Lorie Kaufman’s mom—you look just like her,” we don’t really think we look much alike at all. But I played out my role, smiling, and nodding, all the while wondering what they saw that I did not.

And so it was that I found myself in this odd, bemused place—adult child of my mother, half in the present, half in the past—contemplating what it means to be Reva’s daughter, Jennie’s granddaughter, my husband’s wife, my daughter’s mother. Contemplating what it means to be so linked with another that this link becomes part of my identity. Contemplating what it means to bear the image or imprint of another. I’m not sure I’ve come to any conclusions, save this one:

As much as society tries to convince me that I am an “Army of One,” I cannot escape the fact that my smile is my mother’s, my eyes are my father’s, my outgoing nature is my granddad’s, and my I’m-gettin’-tired Kentucky drawl is my gram’s. The people I come from, the people I’ve united with, and the little people I’ve produced all contribute to the person I was, the person I am, and the person I am to become.

Though the only place I’m now known as Reva’s daughter is in the company of family, I do not cease to be that person once I return home, any more than I cease to be my daughter’s mother when I go to work or my husband’s wife when I leave for a weekend with the girls. And while we may not think we look much alike, I bear my mother’s image nonetheless, just as I do that of my father, and his mother, and so on. Mom’s interest in genealogy is not lost on me—we do not stand alone in a single point in time. I am not separate. I am a part of something beyond myself. I am a Rees. I am a Kaufman. I am an Endicott. I am a Hottle. I am a Baisden.

I am Reva’s daughter.

1 comment:

Julie Morrison said...

Thought provoking. A friend and I were just this weekend running the names of our identity. Iam inspired to write it out. ;)Wink. As usual, this was fab.