Reclaiming My Name
I am reclaiming my name. I am Patty Brown. The Lamprinakos was added at marriage. But I am not a Lamprinakos. I am the fragments, good and bad, passed from my parents. I am the time and the patience they unconditionally gave me as a child and on my journey to adulthood. I have my dad’s eyes, my mother’s cheekbones, my father’s spirit, and my mother’s heart. I am not a Lamprinakos. I do not see myself in their expressions, nor do I live in their dark and angry world. I give my love to people without strings and expectations.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” — Mary Oliver
So for many years, I signed my name as Patty Brown Lamprinakos, but that was not who I am. From the Lamprinakos family members, I never received a kind word, an ounce of empathy for my struggles, a hug of joy for my successes, a moment of interest in my desires, or a scant security in their gazes. Their eyes only stabbed me with revenge for marrying their son, and ill will in the years that I tried to bear their name with honor. Their was no honor, there was a betrayal to who I am. As my son described them once as he looked at them in a photo, “Who are these people?” I ask the same. Who are they? They held values I do not recognize and resided in a darkness where I never wanted to live. So, to become my whole self, I reclaim my name. I take my mother’s maiden name, Rhodes…from her presence, my life was grounded in love. Her impact on me was undeniable. My father’s name, Brown…I reclaim the energy and justice it represented in my life, for my dad made his daughter a warrior.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.
I want my parents to be rightfully noted in the work I do, and in the legacy of my son. They created me; they molded me gently into a woman who respects the notion of love, who lives in their example of integrity, and wakes in the morning joyful in song. I will never be a Lamprinakos, and I never want to be. I am complete in who I am, and feel I betray myself with their name.
So as I begin the process of reclaiming my name, it feels like putting on an old favorite sweatshirt. The name hangs on me with a comfortable wear and coziness. The sound rolls off my tongue with familiarity. For all of my life to those that knew me, I was Patty Brown, not just Patty. It was a three syllable call name. Many never gave up the instant reply upon seeing me. So I return to that honesty of my personhood. It has nothing to do with feminism or disrespect of my husband — in fact, he supports me in this decision. It is an acknowledgment that he is the many fragments of his parents and their parents and so on, and I am made up with the expressions, energy, and souls of my parents and grandparents and so on. To be true to myself, to what they each gave me, it is only right that I reclaim my birth name. In all that I am and in all that I do, nothing can change who I am. I am Patty Rhodes Brown. It sounds like the person I am in the flesh.This was my “gift of darkness”, to finally realize and own my unique voice and to give honor and a gratefulness to my parents for allowing me to use and grow into it as a child into adulthood.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.