– Allen Sherman
Fifty-one years ago, my mother was born.
I’ve called her on my birthday to say, “Thanks for birthing me.”
Tonight when I called her I said, “Thank you for being born.”
If you’ve ever read Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, you understand the weight of that statement. For thousands of years, the right person had to be born for me to be born.
She’s taught me many things in our time together. Here are the two most important.
“Remember who you are.”
I can’t remember an important moment of my life where my mother’s Edward R. Murrow sign-off as I was heading out the door wasn’t, “Remember who you are.”
And I have.
Every once in a while, there have been moments of decision where I’ve chosen poorly. In the wake of those choices, I’ve remembered who I am.
In my best moments as a person, I remember who I am. I stand before my classroom or the bathroom mirror and realize, “I got that right. I was me.”
It’s tricky. Anyone who’s ever lost sight of who they are will understand.
One more thing.
At some point, when I was small and my mom was heading to something I thought it to be important, I tried to give her a taste of her own medicine. She walked out the door, and I said, “Remember your name.”
It wasn’t quite what I meant. But, it was.
Somehow, that sentiment has lived on in the pantheon of our family’s oral history.
It’s why the final scene of The Crucible gets me so worked up.
For me to remember who I am, I must also remember my name. I must own who I am. I must be fully and completely me – at all times.
As a teacher and participant in the virtual world, I’ve many names. I’m Zac. I’m Mr. Chase. I’m “mister…mister…” I’m “hey.” In a pinch, I’m the litany of every person you’ve ever known who looks like me even if you can’t think of my name.
Beyond the verbalization, my name stands. And, like who I am, I remember it.