Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: What’s in a Name?

IMG_4046I have a name. It arrived in the mail last week. Bonney Lee Eva King.  That’s me. An official declaration by the Province of British Columbia on January 23, 2014. It was printed on one of those cheesy government certificates that are the same color as our fifty dollar bill. So it must be real.

Truth is, it feels surreal.  And ironic.

Surreal, because it’s been a long time coming. I was 24 when I learned I wasn’t who I thought I was. Some of you know this story from a previous blog post called, “What Happens in 204 Stays in 204 and the Fine Art of Secret Keeping.”  

The truth about my mistaken identity was revealed by the government of Canada when my ex-husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, and I decided to go to Europe. We mailed off our passport applications and within weeks he got his, no sweat. All I got was a letter from the government saying, essentially, that I didn’t exist.

Ridiculous. Preposterous. Insane. Impossible. Laughable if it wasn’t happening to me.

Little back story on the back story.

This is the conversation between me and Ma the night I called her to find out what the hell was going on. Taken from that original blog post, it went down something like this:

“Ma, a strange thing happened when I tried to get my passport.”

“What’s that dear?”

“I got this letter from the government saying I don’t exist.”

“That’s impossible.”

“Glo told me everything Ma.”

Silence followed. By a pregnant pause. By more silence.

“Ma why didn’t you just put The Old Man’s name on my birth certificate?”

“I didn’t know I could.”

So the truth was, I did exist. I just had a different last name than the one I had been using for 24 years. Legally it was same as my three older siblings. And appallingly, the same surname as their biological father, Ma’s infamous, and rarely spoken of, first husband.

Since Ma and The Old Man never married, I was their illegitimate child.  Isn’t that a quaint expression? I think all children are legitimate. And once born, belong here on earth. Precious and valued. Being a veritable product of the sixties, I like to think that I was their “Love Child.”  I can feel the earth in Northwestern Ontario rumble as the two of them roll over in their shared grave.

For decades I was crippled by an illogical fear that it would be intensely complicated, far too time consuming, and downright next to impossible to get my name legally changed. I viewed it as a colossal mess beyond anything I could handle, much less fix. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I was also intimidated by the  Big Government machine that declared me nonexistent at 24. This grew so epic in my mind that it prevented me from taking even the teeniest baby-steps towards change.

I was stuck.

Then something happened last summer that was a pain in the ass at the time. But turned out to be the proverbial kick in the ass I needed to transform my thinking. And take action.

I went to get my Drivers License renewed. No big deal. I do it every five years. Except this year, the Government of BC had implemented a new policy. Who knew? Not me. My bad.

Here’s my “Dummies” version. To provide better security, in a world of ever increasing fraud and deception, our Health Care Cards and our Drivers Licenses, or some other form of legal identification with a photo, are now connected. They’ll both be stored together like conjoined twins in one of those big bureaucratic organisms that is way beyond my comprehension. There’s also a hitch. Caveat. Proviso.

The names on both cards have to match.

And mine would have, had there not been an unfortunate typo on my Drivers License. I knew about the typo but it had been a non-issue until this new government policy was instated.

The plot thickens.

I also learned on that fateful summer day that if I didn’t have a connected Health Card Card/Drivers License I could be in big trouble in five years. The government health coverage, for which I have been paying up the yin-yang for years, will be compromised. Or worse. Null and void. I’m no Psychic but I see a hot mess on the horizon.

That was all it took. Scared the shit out me. Imagine a Canadian without health care. Unthinkable.

Long story short. 

I finally went through the process of changing my name. One small step at a time. In the end it was no big deal, cost a little over $300 and a bit of my time here and there. Worth every cent and every second.

Now for the ironic part.

IMG_4075It took over 20 years and a chunk of money to get divorced from my first husband. Remember him? The guy I was going to go to Europe with when I was 24. During that 20 years, E and I were living together, had a Love Child of our own and in 2011, after a painful year of litigation, were married on the top of the hill behind our home. The night before we got married we filled out the paperwork with our Pastor for the marriage license.

In the space for my name I wrote, Bonney Lee Eva King.

At the Vital Statistics Agency I learned that, in my particular case, the most expeditious way to change my name would be to use the one on my marriage license. It was a ground zero document and a good place to start.

That presented a disconcerting conundrum.

Do I take the last name of the man I just spent over 20 years extricating myself from because it’s the swiftest thing to do?  Do I take E’s last name because we are now legally married?  Or do I change it to something completely different like Zelda Zooey because it might be fun to reinvent myself as a borderline fool?

In the end, I chose the name on my marriage license. Not because it was the quickest and easiest way out of all this messy name business. But because I’ve spent more time with that name than any other. It’s become part of my identity. Without realizing it, I grew into the name. It’s me. Feels right. Resonates. When I see it on paper, I recognize it.

Besides, I love the nickname and writing handle that goes with it.

Boo King. That’s me too.

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: 101 Things I Regret.

My heart is full of regrets but it is also full of love.

When I was younger. “So much younger than today,” as the Beatles sang in Help, I boasted that I didn’t regret anything.  “It’s pointless, a huge time-waster that accomplishes nothing,” I declared self-assuredly.  “These are all the things that have made me who I am today. Or I did the very best I could with what I knew then,” my much younger self proclaimed with bold bravado. Like a war hero decorated in medals.  I thought I had it all figured out back then. I was so wise.  “But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured.  Now I find I’ve changed my mind,” and I’ve realized I do have regrets.

101 just for starters.

Regrets are different from mistakes.  True, you can learn from them.  Both inform and create the person you are thus far.

But for me there’s a big difference.  Inherent in every mistake is another opportunity.  To fix things.  To do better next time.  To get it right.  There’s built in resolve.  Doggedness.  Determination.  There’s the possibility of a second chance.  Ultimately a happy ending if you play your cards right.  A new and improved you may emerge.

None of this comes into play with regrets.  These are the things you can’t fix.  The one timers.  There isn’t a second chance.  No opportunity to do better next time.  You can’t repair the damage.  There’s a certain sadness to regret.  Sorrow.  Melancholy.  Mournfulness.  These are the residual feelings that linger and haunt.  So final.  Permanent. What’s done is done.  The best you can do is learn something of value and move on.  I don’t dwell.  But I don’t brush regret under the rug either.  I acknowledge and own. Take full responsibility.  Grateful for the refiners fire.  Pray for wisdom.

Now there are some things on this list that I may be able to scratch off one day. There’s still time to learn how to pickle, for example, even though I’ve missed my opportunity to learn this autumnal skill from Ma.  I may even learn how to swim, but that means I have to muster the courage to put on a bathing suit.  So for now they are on the list, amongst the items that I won’t ever be able to change, take back, do over, nor make go away.

Here’s the big kicker.  I think it’s okay to have regrets.  To feel remorse about something I did or said.  Although I can’t change the past, my regrets act as a barometer and guide for the things I do now.  The decisions I make.  The path that I follow.  They remind me that I am only human after all.  They humble me.  I seek grace.  Forgiveness.  Move forward with a far gentler hand and quieter step.

So here they are.  In no particular order.  Unedited.  From my regretful heart to yours.

1. Hurting anyone, even if it was unintentional.
2. Complaining and whining rather than helping and changing.
3. Not respecting The Old Man’s right to choose what he put into his body. He was diabetic not an idiot.
4. Being impatient with my children when they were young and my parents when they were elderly.
5. Not saying yes more often.
6. Hurting or humiliating someone with unkind words, especially those most dear to me.
7. Taking dance lessons instead of piano lessons when I was given the choice.
8. Ever starting to dye my hair.
9. Squeezing pimples on my face when I was a teenager.
10. Taking my oldest daughter to see Purple Rain when she was six.
11. Giving up my teaching career.  Summer’s off would be nice about now.
12. Sleeping with men who didn’t give a crap about me, even when I knew better.
13. Smoking, especially in front of my two oldest kids.
14. Gossiping about anyone.
15. Criticizing people just because it’s so easy.
16. Not appreciating my youth when I had it.
17. Not going to Europe after University.
18. Not saving or doing any financial planning.
19. Not practicing my guitar, my flute, my clarinet.
20. Criticizing The Old Man for eating too much sugar then over indulging myself.
21. Being rude.
22. Not mending fences with one of my brothers after Ma died.
23. Not being with my parents to hold their hands when they died, especially Ma.
24. Being a Groupie instead of the leader of the band.
25. Waiting 20 years to get a divorce.
26. Waiting 20 years to marry E.
27. Not taking my son to sporting events when he was a kid.
28. All the times the words “I’m sorry” got stuck in my throat.
29. Letting my ego and pride get in the way.
30. All the nights I lost sleep over things that didn’t matter.
31. All the times I was small and petty instead of large and magnanimous.
32. Holding grudges far too long.
33. For speaking before thinking.
34. Over thinking things that in the end were really quite simple.
35. All the opportunities I deliberately ignored.
36. Not doing what was right regardless of how uncomfortable it made me feel.
37. Not playing fair.
38. Not going to social events when I said I would.
39. Breaking promises, especially to my kids.
40. Not playing more games with my kids.
41. Not listening.
42. Being a smart aleck and thinking I was so clever and witty when I wasn’t.
43. Bragging and being boastful.
44. Not grabbing on harder to all the small beautiful things in life.
45. Going to bed angry and waking up angrier.
46. Living a timid life.
47. Let fear rule far too often.
48. Not letting go of resentment, especially towards my ex-husband.
49. The years spent watching useless television.
50. The time and energy spent thinking about Jennifer Aniston’s hair.
51. Not speaking up in defense of someone because I was afraid.
52. Not learning to swim.
53. Never having asked for a raise.
54. Raising my voice at my kids, especially when they were little.
55. Saying no to all the nice boys who asked me to dance in hopes that a bad boy would.
56. That I never learned how to make pickles from Ma.
57. The first time I got drunk on Ruby Rouge when I was sixteen.
58. All the money I spent at McDonald’s on those Quarter Pounder with Cheese meals.
59. Not spending enough time with my grand daughter.
60. Not taking Andy to another vet for a second opinion sooner.
61. Being selfish and self-centered.
62.Wanting my own way even when I knew it wasn’t good for me.
63. Blaming my bad moods on hormones.
64. Letting good people slip away from my life because I was too lazy to work at keeping them.
65. Not showing up more in the lives of the people I love.
66. All the excessive sun tanning I did before 40.
67. Not letting The Old Man teach me how to speak Finnish.
68. Not going to see Mumford and Sons at the Vogue.
69. Not taking better care of my feet.
70. Eating when I wasn’t hungry.
71. All the years I wore high heels with pointy toes to work.
72. Not getting Ma back home before she died.
73. Not spending more time with The Old Man when he was in “the home.”
74. The horrible fight I had with my ex-husband in front of our daughter when she was six.
75. Not saving for my kids college and university education.
76. Being ashamed and embarrassed by what The Old Man did for a living.
77. Not walking out of Eyes Wide Shut. A total waste of 159 minutes.
78. Not watching hockey on Saturday nights with The Old Man.
79. Not focusing on one thing and getting good at it.
80. Not paying attention in class, especially the last two years of high school.
81. All the years I didn’t even trying to see The Old Man’s point of view.
82. Pretending the panhandlers were invisible.
83. Not putting my hand up and asking why.
84. Trying out for things in high school that interested my friends instead of the things that interested me.
85. Holding back my smile in my wedding photos because I was self-conscious in front of the camera.
86. Losing it shamefully the Thursday before our wedding because the forecast called for more rain on our day.
87. Crying all those times when I was actually angry.
88. Not asking that guy if he was married before accepting his invitation to dinner.
89. Causing my children to worry about me.
90. Not taking better care of my knees and feet.
91. Interrupting.
92. Spending time cleaning my house when I could have been spending time with my kids.
93. Ever wearing horizontal stripes.
94. Ever wearing palazzo pants and platform shoes.
95. Eating liver.
96. Not resisting the fateful caramel that destroyed my fragile back molar permanently.
97. Every wearing barefoot running shoes on concrete sidewalks.
98. Not being a better mother to my oldest daughter when she was a teenager.
99. All the days I complained about the weather as if that could change things.
100. Not being involved in my kids’ schools and not attending any PAC meetings. Three kids and not even one.
101. Ever taking off the rose colored glasses.

So there you have it. 101 things I regret. There are also many things I don’t regret. Opening my heart to love. Being vulnerable.  Tender hearted. Having three beautiful kids. Marrying E. Having the courage to tell the stories of my life with as much raw honesty as possible in the hope that they will help at least one other person feel less alone.

And most importantly, I absolutely do not regret being The Breadman’s Daughter.