Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hawaii Story 4

I have green eyes. Kind of amazing considering that my dad is known to be mostly Hawaiian, and my Granny Silva was considered pure Hawaiian. There aren't many of them left. My father was adopted by Grandpa Silva, and we never found out who is natural father was, Granny's secret. My father thinks he was from Makawao, a paniolo, a Hawaiian cowboy. So, when I was born, it sort of answered a few questions. Somewhere in the family tree, a great-great-great grandmother knew a guy, maybe a sailor, with green eyes. Hawaiians tend to do everything from the heart, so casual sex was not considered dishonorable. But a bond of love was important. There are reports of Hawaiian women pursuing caucasian men out of a desire to have light eyed children. If that was true of an ancient ancestor, she would have had to wait a very long time to see her light-eyed descendent.

In fact, very few things about me look Hawaiian. As I was growing up, it was often remarked how different I was. For one, I tanned differently. I didn't have the rich taupe tan that my siblings had (a couple of them stay tan all of the time), with a lavender skin tone or the high cheekbones, either. My hair bleached blonde and my skin went into a golden tan instead. Later in the '80's when it was the rage among women to know their "season", I could never tell. My skin has bluish green veins--blue was considered "cool" season and green was "warm". My eyes have flecks of gold and my skin has a gold tone. One of my sisters is a feminine replica of our dad with her eyes, facial structure as well as body structure. When I watch the hula videos, I see resemblences between the dancers and members of my family. I don't see anyone looking like me. I expect not to.

This was tough for a long time. First, I have an uncommon first name. An "ethnic" last name before marriage. Once, on a first day of school, the teacher did the first roll call of the year and when she came to my name, she thought I made a mistake when I raised my hand. It happened every fall I went to a new school, there would be confusion between my appearence and my name. They were looking for a brown skinned girl, not the golden skinned green-eyed girl with the sun kissed hair from spending the whole summer swimming or biking. My siblings had none of these problems.

After awhile, it became too important to me to stress my hawaiian blood. I was proud of it, but it wouldn't have been noticed unless I said something. While still living at home, in a small town, everybody knew us, so no one had to be told what I was. They could just look at my family, which weren't easy to miss. After I left home to be in college, this was tough.

A friend in college pointed out that I held on to this identity issue too hard. She didn't realize that I was afraid of forgetting where I came from. I didn't want to cut off all ties to family, as independent I tended to be, I never thought of myself as completely caucasian. And truth be told, didn't want to be. I struggled with this until I learned to thank my Maker, who created me to be who I am. I've finally come to terms that I look like my beautiful mother so much so that when I see old photographs of her, I have to look twice to realize it isn't me.

Things started to change before I graduated and accepted that I was just passing through this world and I was going to live much longer in the next. That no matter where I went, God created me and knew me and that my identity was wrapped up in being His daughter. I was ready to face the world that knew nothing about me and liable to put labels on me that could never contain the real me. I am not the summation of my ancestory, personality, appearence or gifts, I am more than that through Christ because through His blood, I belong to Him by adoption.

"But there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him." The Message, Philippians 3: 2-17

So, with a French last name, I'm glad God showed me not to be hung up on bloodline or last names before. When people sometimes tell me I don't look French, I laugh. Neither does my husband. And who cares?

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