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My Name

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In English my name means fiery. Americans deign it as simply a flashback to the heritage of a person’s ancestors. The Irish pressed into the name a passion, a heated intensity that burns just below the surface. It stands for the determination to succeed, to be accepted. A dark blue, the shade of the ocean when deep in thought, of the night sky when the moon is swollen in its pale luster. It is the seemingly bland beef-and-potato hashes my mother makes, plain to the eye with a treasure of stimuli waiting within.

It is my grandmother’s family within six small letters. The Isles left their imprint deeply upon them, as deep as the ocean blue tattoos of their Celtic ancestors. My ancestors. The grandma I never knew, her flaming hair remembered in her daughter’s hair, in my name. The family I’ve never known, I may never know. Their determination and confidence running through my veins with the drive of a powerful Gaelic hymn, the sort my mother plays on the nights she cannot sleep, a lullaby of aching happiness and sorrow.

I wish I had known the woman who so greatly influenced my mother. I only have the stories of the fire-haired woman from the Irish family, her temper a match for her over-worked husband. Not his first wife, not his last, but his favorite and most important. The mother of the children, in a way the reason I am alive. I wonder if she would be proud.
Everybody struggles with my name at first. They say it as if it is slippery glue, easy at first with a clumsy finish, leaving a woolen feeling in your mouth. But at home, amongst my kin, it becomes a graceful dance, a remembrance of ages past. It is the depressed optimist, the jubilant pessimist. It is brimming with the wisdom of youth, the ignorance of age, as shallow as the sea, and as deep as a drought. It is the Gemini, never alone yet always searching for the one made to be by its side, connected at the soul. I am none and all of these; never myself but always true to form. And I am always Keegan.





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