Saloma Miller Furlong's Blog
A Cultural Heritage
Several blog posts ago, I mentioned our sons, Paul and Tim, which prompted these questions from Pamela:
Question, you don’t mention your sons all that often and I assume its to protect their privacy, but I am wondering how they feel about your move? Also, while I am on the subject I have often wondered how they feel about their Amish heritage. Do they embrace it, or are they disconnected from it? Do they see it as something that is a part of who you are, but not necessarily part of them?
I replied that I would ask my sons these questions and allow them to answer for themselves. I have done that. I have to make a correction to the question of how they feel about us moving to Virginia. Paul said he was happy for us. Tim was upset for a while, but he’s come around to recognizing that this is a good decision for us, and therefore he is also happy for us.
Then I asked each of them if they mind being the subject of my blog at times, and I received two very different answers. Paul doesn’t mind if I write about him, but Tim had a very strong reaction, and clearly does not want that to happen. This is why I will be writing about Paul’s responses to Pamela’s questions, but also why I will honor Tim’s wishes and not include him. I don’t think he’ll mind if I include this photo of Mem holding him when he was a toddler. In a rare moment, Mem actually allowed David to snap this photo. Tim looks a little worried.
Paul’s response to the question of how he feels about his Amish heritage was. “It’s complicated, but I certainly don’t feel shame. Mostly, I feel proud.” He said he likes that the Amish have such strong work ethics, and he also likes their connection to the earth. He also said he does feel like the Amish heritage is a part of who he his, and that the connection he feels was passed down through me.
I wasn’t too surprised to hear Paul say that his feelings about his Amish heritage are complicated. My relationship to my heritage has been evolving for years, so he has likely picked up on my complicated feelings about my background. When he was born, I has still bitter about it because I’d not yet done the healing work that I would do later, starting when he was five years old. He likely also sensed this was a source of sorrow for me during my therapy years. It’s only been in his adult years that I’ve come around to accepting and even embracing my Amishness.
I don’t know if Paul had already planned this before our conversation, but he ended up dressing up as an Amish man and shaved off his mustache, leaving an Amish-looking beard for a Halloween party he attended. I asked if I could take photos of him, and he was fine with that. Here is one:
I think Paul looks pretty convincingly Amish. The suspenders are a bit wide, but other than that, I think he looks like any of several of my cousins when they were young.
Paul had worn an Amish hat before. When he was a little tyke, David and I attended my brother Simon’s wedding. Mem wanted to see what Paul looked like in an Amish hat. We couldn’t figure out how to fit his Furlong ears under the hat, so they’re bent over. It looks so comical to me. David took this photo in the yard outside my parents’ house.
Paul at 10 months
Speaking of comical, I wish I could go back and comb my hair before this picture was taken. And oh my, those glasses would have to go, too. I wouldn’t mind going back to that figure I had, though.
Seeing the homestead in the background with that lighting brings back so many memories. I so often felt stuck and even trapped when I was still living at home. It is a reminder that I always want to be grateful for my freedom and not take it for granted. I hope this is also part of the legacy I’m leaving for my sons, along with an appreciation for their heritage.