Who are you ?
Sometimes I’m asked, “Who are you?” and I’m tempted to reply that I’m lots of Ethels, and which one do you mean?
The name Ethel Bradford, only means I belong to a family of Bradfords and ‘labeled’, so people can tell me apart from others. And that Ethel has been daughter, wife, lover. mother, grandmother, and twice a great-grandmother.
But you know, as I do, that all those ‘names’ are actually only labels, tags you might say, explaining what role I played or play in some one else’s life.
None of them relates to the Ethel who responds, or hangs up, on those who try to beguile or fill me with fear in order to get me to vote for the one who is paying them to make the calls.
And still different from that Ethel who tries to explain to another phone-voice, that I never buy or give money to those who ask by phone. And you wouldn’t want to know that Ethel who was once told, (in today’s explicit words) to perform some anatomically impossible act. Yes, I knew the words. but was shocked to hear them aimed at me. I was tempted to respond in the same lingo. I didn’t. but that too, is another Ethel.
To some I’m a Teacher, and there I smile, for I always learn more than I teach, because the teacher must ‘dig’ for more information than ever used, while all the students have to do is listen, doze, or not even attend.
I’m a different Ethel when met with anger or resentment, than with arms of love. Yes, and there are Ethels that I don’t especially like, but, at times we all play such roles, too.
I remember back when I was my Dad’s Flicka, his little Svenska girl, and though I didn’t know what those words meant, I knew it was an Ethel I liked being.
I’m not sure who I was to my mother, for she could not accept the Ethel who could not unquestionably follow her steps. I was a different Ethel than what she wanted, expected, and sadness came to us both. It caused me to try to give my sons deep character training, but also the freedom to use those values in whatever System they chose. And that my love for them would not vary an iota.
And sometime who we are is a puzzle. as with me to the one I’ve called Gram. She was my husband’s mother, so I was not her daughter, and yet she said I was her true daughter. It’s an Ethel I loved being, and am glad I was given that role to fill.
And then there’s the Ethel who is a student, for that Ethel keeps me forever stepping through doors that, with just a touch, prove not to be doors at all, but new territory to explore and widen my mind. This has become my favorite Ethel, for she points the way to the Ethel I am becoming as I eagerly step through those false doors with open eyes and mind.
To my surprise, and I wish I could tell every older person, but as I get older, I’m finding an entirely new Ethel. I eagerly reach to her with surprise and ask, where have you been all this time? And I’ve found that I had to wait until years of living, and stepping through those wide-open ‘closed doors’, would be needed to give me the bravery, joy, and wisdom to dare be the Ethel I never before was ready to be.
And the best part of it all, is to find that I, by the roles I play today, am also choosing who and what I will be tomorrow. And to know that this is not a ‘new’ Ethel, but one who’s always been with me, waiting to be discovered.
I’ve caught glimpses of that Ethel peeking out from behind the thousands of roles I’ve taken, but slowly found that no matter what name or camouflage I assume, IT is the real, never changing ‘me’. And, shiver, shiver, shiver, like you, It’s who I Am, always was and always will be. Yes, the names given me will vary but the real, final Role will always be the Ethel who is One with The Source of all. And some day, I hope we’ll meet each other there.