Raised By Wolves

I’m not special. Life came to me bearing no great fortune of intellect or pedigree. I was drawn to earth by the light of a moonbeam and crashed onto the shore with the full force of nature. Formed and informed by what was put in front of me. Just like everyone else.

I was not any particular brand of poor. Not destitute, not white trash. I was not born in a barn. My husband once asked what kind of name my surname is. My reply? American. That is the extent of what matters to me about my heritage. I know what I know and show what I show. It’s that simple.

People who have great anthologies of the heroes and villains of their ancestry are interesting to me. Connecting to the past through their stories of desperation and determination strengthens us all to give this life everything we’ve got.

I know a man who can weave a story about his family being bootleggers as if they were royalty. He is not one bit embarrassed about them making moonshine, outrunning the law or being skinny and barefoot most of his life. I know a woman who had her children taken away by the state. She worried herself to death not knowing if they were safe or hungry. Before she died, she made sure someone wrote down their given names in case anyone ever took the time to find out what happened to them. I know families who worked in fields owned by someone else to make enough to pay the light bill. They ate peas and cornbread for dinner almost every night and never said a cross word to anyone.

I know boredom and blind luck. I know the fearless and careless. I know the oblivious, who damaged people they brought into this life and the courageous whose sheer will to do better made all the difference. There is much I do not know, more I will never know, and I’m okay with that because I know this life is a gift. It is ephemeral and it is now what it always has been, whatever we choose to make of it.

My husband says, “I love who you are,” and I provoke him with, “What does that mean? I don’t know what that means. You love who I am? Who am I?”

He says with a smile, “You’re American.”

14 thoughts on “Raised By Wolves

  1. You are what you are. I love the title. When I was a child one of my mom’s friends insisted I must have been raised by wolves before she had me. So there is my ancestral line for you.

  2. Some of the toughest, smartest, most wonderful people I know in this country are from “humble” beginnings, whatever that means. My family doesn’t have any bootleggers or pirates or anything, although my grandfather almost got deported before he even arrived in the US–he was in a stiletto fight with another passenger on the ship en route from Sicily to New York. I’ve managed to trace back my lineage to early 19th-century Sicily and Ireland, but don’t know as many stories about my family as I’d like. We’re all originals, though, aren’t we. A lot of people around the world aren’t especially fond of us Americans, but I still think we’re an interesting and earnest bunch.

  3. I was adopted at birth. My genealogy was always a question sometimes because my questionable heritage was used against me and other times because I had a rich imagination to carry me off. Now I know, where I come from I am though more a product of my own life than anything or anyone. I am, like you an American I am more though.

  4. A few years back I went to a family reunion for the first time and encountered the genealogist in the family for the first time. He gave me his research from family Bibles and I took a stab at expanding on it and looking at other branches online. My brother did not even want to know what I found because he insists that we are mutts – we are Americans. I think he’s right about that and the truth is that although I know when and where we stepped onto the continent, nothing past my own experience and the experiences told to me by my parents and grandparents really have any effect on my life. It’s interesting trivia.

    1. I like that…mutts. Too funny. You’re right, it’s interesting trivia, but I bet I could make up something just as interesting as anything nut that fell out of my family tree.

      1. When my brother’s oldest married we passed our family Bible on to him – it had not been updated at all so I did that. I also added the trees from my mom’s family and my nana’s – I want to add his mom’s too. It was interesting information and now he can be the keeper of it. One thing I did learn that shocked me was that my mom’s father had his surname changed after his father got into trouble with the law – I think it’s odd that my mom lived her whole life and had no idea that her real surname was not Smith – but then again, what difference would it have made?

        1. Probably none. When my husband’s grandmother was 72, she received a letter informing her of a sister, still living, she never knew she had. Evidently her mother had gone away for a period of time, after my husband’s grandmother was born, and had another child, but gave it up for adoption. The wife of the adopting couple died unexpectedly and the husband put the child up for adoption AGAIN. Well, of course all this was verified and my husband’s family welcomed this woman, his grandmother’s younger sister, with open arms. The similarities were uncanny, down to the woman’s penmanship. Very interesting…and I didn’t make it up.

          1. Wow – how wonderful that they got to reconnect. It makes you wonder about nature vs nurture. I see my nana in my niece in her posture and her sense of humor and adventure, but they never met. Did she pick it up from her dad or me or was it just born in her?

  5. Very good! And I just happened to be watching a news segment this morning on a couple that literally lived among a pack of wolves for two years, so your title caught my eye and seemed especially appropriate.

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