Titles of Distinction
Yesterday morning Dylan and I drove downtown to pick up groceries and run some errands. Our first stop was at the Co-op Grocery store, where Dylan is working for the summer. On our way in, we were met by a woman who greeted Dylan with a big smile, “Hello,” she said, “Not working today?”
“Nope,” Dylan replied, returning her smile with a warm one of his own, “It’s my day off.” He paused as he spoke to her rather than brush on past – giving her his time and attention.
“Oh, that’s nice! Have a good day.” Then she was on her way
Just inside the door we paused again for another warm customer greeting and exchange. The shopping experience progressed as it began, with many stops to chat with customer and co-workers. I felt like I was accompanying a celebrity. The genuineness and warmth of each exchange made my heart swell with pride and joy. In this environment my status as Dylan’s Mom is reason for high acclaim.
Leaving behind the grocery store, we made our way to the gas station to fuel up and refill our propane tank. The young women working at the pumps were both people Errol had worked there with. Just a bit before I had left the house, our Amazon Echo had displayed a photo of Errol with one of the girls who was working. In the photo, Errol had let his coworkers put his hair up in a bun, to match theirs. I shared the memory with the girl as I waited for my fuel and propane. She laughed, “Oh, that day! I will keep that picture on my phone always! It never fails to makes me smile.” Waiting there, I remembered many other times when I had visited the gas station when Errol had been working there. “Hi, Errol’s Mom!” had been my typical greeting. One day someone had objected, saying, “hey – she’s got her own name.” but I just smiled and told her that I didn’t mind at all. In fact, on many occasions Errol’s co-workers had shared with me how often he ‘bragged’ about me and Craig. In light of that, they were calling me “Errol’s Mom” as the person who Errol spoke about with pride and that made it a title of distinction.
There have been times in my life that I have been referred to by my role rather than as my unique self. Some of those times have limited, reduced and pigeon-holed me but sometimes being known as Craig’s wife by the individuals who live in the Home he manages, or as Dylan or Errol’s Mom by people who appreciate and admire the people they are, or as Paul and Esther’s daughter by people who respected them is something I wear as a title of distinction rather than feeling belittled, limited or reduced.
At these times, people are seeing me, plus they are seeing the contributions I have made in helping the people they know better, become the people they trust, admire and care about or they are seeing the parts of me that reflect the aspects of those who have shaped me. In this way, I am not made less but recognized as so much more.
When these titles of distinction carry on even when the individuals who spawned them have found their way beyond our perception, it is a powerful reminder that the impact we have, and the lives we shape have an endless rippling effect. What we do – who we are matters. The effects of the smallest things – even things that seem to go unnoticed at the time, reverberate along the strands that create the fabric of reality in ways deeper and broader than we can ever imagine.