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Are You Who You Say You Are?

Updated on July 10, 2020
Gregory Floro profile image

Greg spent 10 years in the US as a foreign student, growing up during turbulent times and falling in love with the people and the country.

What does your birth certificate say about you?

Have you ever read the details of your birth certificate? I know it must seem like a ridiculous item for me to discuss at my age,now that I am retired from my job, but reading through my birth certificate was a revelation since the information entered was over sixty years old and should have been part of my self knowledge as I went through the years of my education and of my work. Happily enough, the revelation that I discovered while reading my birth certificate details was not shocking or terrifying in any way, it was simply an educational experience that brought back childhood memories of my conversations with my mother.

For all intents and purposes, my full name is Gregory Alejan Floro with initials GAF. My middle name, Alejan is based on my mother's maternal surname which follows our country's tradition of honoring our mothers and on following lineage traditions. In english it means Alex, and I have always thought it as a very cool name to carry on with and I have lived with my middle name all my life and used it extensively with all my legal documents including my credit cards. Imagine my surprise while going through a copy of my birth certificate that my name as documented is Gregory Allen Alejan Floro! Where did the "Allen" come from, I wondered? It took my mind several hours to go through sixty cloudy years of memories, and what came forth from my search was a story so sentimental and loving that every time it replays in my mind, I can hear my mother's voice from the past calling me:

I was only a child of eight or nine years of age and I was busily drawing on a sheet of paper in my parent's bedroom . It was a hot summer afternoon and I had spread myself over the cool wood floor while the noon sun had left curtained shadows of sepia and beige all over the walls.. My mom had entered the room to lay down in bed away from the glaring heat of the day. For a few minutes, she just watched me draw and after I had signed my name in my best childlike scribble she uttered a few words that changed my perception of my world and of myself:

"Your name is Gregory Allen Floro," she said in a motherly voice, accentuating the Allen and stretching it out, trying to draw my attention to her subtle correction.

"Oh Mom, what happened to the Alejan in the middle of my name? " I asked, a little upset that my drawing had been rendered imperfect by her comment but still a little intrigued by her words.

"Your father and I gave you the name Gregory Allen Alejan Floro when you were born," she replied,"so that your middle name would be Allen and that Alejan would be your maternal name."

Thoroughly confused by what I had heard, I went to her on the bed to show her my drawing and to ask her if I could use Alejan as my middle name. All I received was a smile and a pat on my head. She never corrected me again, in all our later discussions and in all those years leading to her death.

My memory loses focus from this point on, except to say I was henceforth Gregory Alejan Floro to everyone concerned, except to my mother and to myself, a little fragment of my history to be eventually forgotten even by myself over time were it not for my parent's entry in my birth certificate.

And who was Allen, and why I was named after him? I suppose I will have something to ask Mom when I next see her.

© 2018 Gregory Floro


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