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8.20.2010

Dad's Last Name

I don't have my dad's last name.  The story is too complicated and convoluted to go into (and to be honest, I don't know if I even understand it completely) and my parents weren't married at that time, but my last name is that of my maternal family.  It seems wierd, but over time, you just get used to it.  There's always that awkward moment when someone refers to your parents as Mr. & Mrs. Maples, or that you have to explain that you're really a bastard child, but it just becomes a part of your identity.  And it really didn't matter because I've never known my dad's family.  He never went around them, so I was never around them.  I've met them maybe three times, at least that I can remember, and two of those were at his parents' funerals.  I grew up around my mom's family.  It's a large, but close, extended family.  It just always kinda made sense to me that I have their last name.

So I never really thought that much about it or was concerned with it until we were pregnant with Jackson, our oldest.  At that time, my "daddy issues" started to overflow.  And one of the more troublesome issues was that I didn't have his last name.  I still can't really say why it bothered me so bad.  Colleen didn't get it, but I think it's an issue that might really only matter to a man.  No woman I've ever talked to about it got what the big deal was. And I don't mean that to sound sexist, but given that so many wives take their husband's last name, I don't know that it is a big deal to them.

Even though my dad and I were not close while I was growing up, he was still my dad.  Even though our relationship was never especially warm until the last few years, I couldn't help but feel he had been wronged by my mom (and if Mom is reading this, don't get offended, I'm just psycho-analyzing here).  I felt like he had been cheated out of his lineage, even though at the time, he probably deserved a whole lot worse.  And that, in turn, made me feel cheated out of my lineage (although, from what I know of my paternal family, it wasn't a lineage to be particularly proud of).  And what grew out of that was me being pissed off at my dad for never claiming me and his lineage, which made me not want to have his last name (which was a good thing, because I didn't).

At the time, though, I put a lot of thought into changing my last name to his.  But the boat has sailed.  Too much life had happened for that to be a realistic option.  Everyone knew me by Maples.  I would have to re-teach everyone I had ever known what my last name was.  And I wasn't only changing my last name, but doing so would also require Colleen to change her last name.  Again.  And if you know my wife, you know you better get it right the first time.  Everything would just be a hot mess.  So I just finally moved on. 

But I've been thinking a lot about it again lately.  Obviously, changing my last name is even less of an option now as what it was five years ago.  But given the new closeness to my dad that his cancer brought us (God sure works in funny ways, huh?), I have a renewed interest in honoring his lineage.  I just can't come up with a way to do it.

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