Today’s prompt asks whether I am named after someone in my family tree. My name was always Katherine Ann. Maybe it was growing up in the 60s and 70s, but I hated my name. It just didn’t seem to fit me. There were a lot of Kathys/Cathys/Kathies in school. I had a friend in elementary school whose parents were divorced. Somehow, she has 2 sets of names. Depending on how she felt, she could be Jill or Tina. I was so envious. And it was sanctioned by her parents. She was free to be whoever she wanted to and whenever. When my adoption was revealed, I looked at this naturalization certificate and noticed immediately that my name is really Kathrine. Flip it over and there is a little square noting my name change at adoption from Kathrine Shoji to my adoptive parent’s surname. Yes, you can legally change your name and you people will get used to calling you by whatever you answer to.
Is the name you chose the same as the name you were given? Did my Japanese mother walk around with me in her small framed body for 9 months, give birth in a house with a midwife and name me Kathrine Ann? Doesn’t sound very likely. When I found my brothers I also found a registry of names kept in the town our mother was born in. (Japan is highly efficient like that.) Both boys were given Japanese names that were changed to American names by their adoptive parents.
Does knowing the name your mother reserved for you matter? Does it change who you are? Mostly no, but if I am going to hear the thousand voices behind me that sent me here, shouldn’t I know the name they are calling to?
Odds are that I will never know. Something tells me when I hear my name, I will know it’s mine.
Saturday is the celebration of Obon (or Bon) in the Buddhist tradition. It’s a time to honor ancestors that have gone before us. It may be a little like sending an unaddressed envelope through the mail. I’ll just have to make sure I put a return address. And wait.
- Explore ancestor worship custom all over the world (vnkfg95.wordpress.com)