I am Rosemary’s Granddaughter/
The spitting image of my father/
Jessica Andrews, Who I am
I sing along when that song when it comes on the radio. I love what it talks about, I am clueless and clumsy, and I do have friends who love me.
Still, there’s always a part that’s missing.
I am the spitting image of my father. I cut my hair short and left it curly a few months ago and the stepsister I have not seen in 28 years stared back at me in the mirror.
This isn’t the best place to start, and I’m sorry. I’m bad for that. May I plead exhaustion from last week?
My Uncle David recognized me right away. I was in grade school the last time he saw me. Just a little girl with straight, mousy brown hair. I came around the corner and he was standing in line, and our eyes met, and I knew him and I knew he knew me.
I haven’t seen my Uncle David in years, at least 20 and maybe more that that. We just aren’t that kind of family. I wished it was so, particularly after my father died. I yearned for that connection with him, I wanted someone to explain him to me. I wanted to be connected to someone.
There was so much gone when he was gone, so many things, so many chances, so many opportunities. There I was, 20 years old, a mother who hated my father. No one talked about him. No one told me stories. No one told me who my father really was. I remember him, but I remember him as a child, and somewhere in that child’s memories is the need for an adult to piece together what can be pieced together. To re-examine what happened, take the good with the bad. To add in a few more pieces, to understand what was in a new light, a light that carries into the very idea of what is.
My uncle told me that I got the families’ work ethic. I kind of knew that, and yet, in that moment, there was a connection to my father. A connection to something larger than just me. And not just my father, an entire side of the family. I kept their name and now I felt just a bit more included.
I looked at a picture on his iPhone, of my great-grandparent’s tombstone. I saw my last name. I sat in a crowded downtown restaurant, and just stared at the photo. My name, my people, where I come from and who I am.
It isn’t what I thought it would be, it never quite is. With time came the understanding that I will never quite understand my father. I will never understand the choices he made and those he didn’t make. Some where in my late 20’s, I realized, we can’t ever understand the choices other people make because we aren’t them. We make our peace with the way they affect us, and that’s really all we can do.
So, downtown restaurant on Sunday, looking at my uncle. He has some of my father’s mannerisms. I stared at a photo of my great-great-grandparent’s tombstone.
I am the spitting image of my father.