Monday, September 9, 2013
In the South, family ties are very important. Everyone recognizes, identifies and acknowledges you in relation to your family. Everyone wants to know who your "kin" or your "people " are. In the past, when you were introduced to an older person, it was virtually assured and expected that the next thing you would hear would be the question: "Who are your people?" This was especially the case if you were being introduced as a new suitor, girlfriend or boyfriend. They felt that they needed to know, right away, if you came from good stock or from the right kind of "people". If by some remote chance a person was introduced and no one really knew who any of their "people" were, the customary question or more of a declaration was sure to follow: "You not from around here, are you?" And that was not necessarily seen as a very good thing. Of course, in a small town, that occurrence was very rare. In a small town, practically, everyone knew everyone and at least some of their "people".
Times have changed dramatically and there are many more outsiders, even in small towns. But, even now, when we are trying to "place" someone and figure out who they are ? We often ask who their people are or who their mother or father is. Most of my childhood, my first name was not required or deemed important or necessary at all, it seems.
I was always introduced as Dr. Neely's daughter ...or Brian Neely's sister.
It didn't bother me at all. it was just the way things were. I am still often introduced as Dr. Neely's daughter when someone is trying to place the face after many years of not seeing me in the town.
When we moved back to Tupelo, my husband soon found out that his name/title/identity, to many people, was/is Dr. Neely's son -in law. Only during the years that I was in college in Boston and afterwards living in Memphis did I become accustomed to being primarily addressed by my given name.
Now, that I have written two books and have a regular schedule of speaking engagements, I hear myself introduced repeatedly by my full name. I must admit that it has a very nice ring to it ....Patricia Neely-Dorsey (smile) But, for a whole segment of older generation residents who knew me growing up, I am still very much ...and only ...Dr. Neely's daughter. And, for a whole new group of acquaintances, who mostly only know me through my son, I am addressed as Henry's Mom !
It's OK...Really ...'cause I love my "people" !