Connections

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I was determined to take some time to catch up on reading for pleasure over the holidays.  I looked at the titles of books I want to read or reread trying to decide what to start today.   I was drawn to a book I “read” last year.  When I first downloaded the book to my Kindle, I didn’t take the time to really read and focus on the book.  I skimmed some and read some.  It wasn’t that the book wasn’t good; it was that the book hit too close to home.   I needed to really invest myself in reading this story.   I decided to start “Peace and Freedom are My Names” by Irene Frances.

I “met” Irene on the internet last year.  I read her blog and knew this was someone I wanted to get to know.  I connected with her in reading that first post and made contact through the blog and facebook.  I was excited to find that she, like I, at our delicate ages were both going to college.  I am doing undergraduate work, while she is attending the Brisbaine School of Theology in her home country of Australia.   I have loved watching her posts about studying Hebrew and taking tests.  She has encouraged me when I felt overwhelmed at times.  You can see her faith and genuineness in her smile.

I also connected with her in other ways.  She is a survivor of an abusive childhood and learned to live with mental health issues, all while maintaining a strong and steadfast faith in God.   We have both had our challenges with religion and church, but God has never given up on us.  Her faith and journey have been an inspiration to me.

As I began to read her book again,  I was reminded in the first paragraphs of the similarities in our stories.  Many facts are different, but the feelings and ways of surviving were much the same.  This passage pulled me in today:  I was a nothing and a nobody.  Nobody wanted me; I didn’t even have my own name. And I was worth nothing.  It was a pitiable start to life of hell and torment that would eventually send me into a pit of madness from which it would take a lifetime to claw my way out.

Nobody wanted me.  I felt that way much of my life.  I didn’t even have my own name.  I was reminded of that just this past week. A while back, I wrote a post about my name being changed a couple times in my childhood.  You can read it here.    My parents named me Carolyn Ann, but at the age of four my grandparents changed it to Cathy (Catherine Ann) when they adopted me.  Just a short time before my mother died, she told me that while my name was Carolyn Ann, but they called me Lynn.   I wasn’t sure if that was true or the imaging of an old woman.   In the blog post above, I shared about finding my old shot records listing my name as Carolyn Ann and (Lynn) listed on one page.   I also realized that I lived in Flat Top, W. Va. at my grandparents farm for a couple of years.

Last weekend, Jan and I were working on genealogy sites when I decided to try something to find an old newspaper article I remembered.  The article was in the newspaper in W. Va.  and featured a picture of my brother and I when I returned to W. Va. to visit when I was 8 years old.  Imagine my surprise, when the article appeared in a site with filmstrip from old newspapers.  I quickly signed up for the week long free trial and printed the article.

I decided to do a bit more searching when I discovered an article from 1952 about a meeting of the Flat Top Farm Women’s Club.  After a brief description of the meeting and food served, the meeting attendees were listed.   I froze when I read these names: Mrs. Grady Keaton (that’s my grandmother), Mrs. Joe Keaton (that’s my mother) and her daughter Lynn.  LYNN…there it was in black and white…proof that my mother’s memory was intact, and that I was indeed called Lynn for the first 3 to 4 years of my life.

This has been on my mind ever since I found the article.  I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t let it go.   And, then I starting reading Irene’s story again.  In her book, she explains changing her name after her marriage.  I am thinking about reclaiming my birth name of Keaton when I finalize my divorce, and  I am now thinking about adding Lynn to that name in  some way.

I know this will not make sense to many of you and that’s OK.   You see, somehow, just seeing that name makes a connection to the childhood that was taken from me.  I now know the truth about many things, in spite of all efforts by some to keep it from me.   JanF. told me that my life was life a huge mosaic puzzle.  I had the easy pieces in place; I had the outer edges.   I would continue to add pieces as they were revealed, and one day I would see one of God’s  most beautiful works of art.  I asked her what piece of art that would be, and she replied, “Why, your life of course. “

For more information  on Irene Frances and her book available on Amazon, please check out her page on Peace and Freedom are My Names.

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5 thoughts on “Connections

  1. Cathy, I am honored that you have read and commented upon my story. We have both been on an incredible journey, one we would never have chosen for ourselves but, for me, one that has been almost a privilege for the lessons learned, the strength, courage and resilience that has come, and for coming to know my God as my real Father – the One who is utterly trustworthy, who knows us through and through and understands us completely. You are an inspiration, Cathy!

  2. And now I have a new book on my reading list!! Yea me! :)

    I was struck by your comment about changing your name, “I know this will not make sense to many of you and that’s OK. You see, somehow, just seeing that name makes a connection to the childhood that was taken from me.” This actually makes perfect sense to me. When I was young my family called me Tammy, but as I got older I asked them to stop, and they did. However, every now and then my Grandmother would slip up and I found that those slip ups made me feel loved and protected. I miss them now, miss her now. I will never be Tammy again, never have that feeling of hearing that name said by someone who knew me and loved me from the very beginning. So I can completely understand how learning of your “other” name, the name used by your mom when you were young can have such an impact that you want to keep it, to hold it close to you. I say do it, change your name to Peanut Buttercup if it makes you happy and who cares what anyone else thinks!! ;)

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