If Tirzah Mae were forced to claim an ethnic heritage, the most honest answer would have to be “German”. The daughter of two mutts, she ends up 9/16ths German (more than her mother can claim!)
She has the blue eyes and fair complexion that testifies to her northern European heritage.
But three things bear witness to her small but significant Mediterranean heritage.
The most obvious to outsiders is the Garcia last name, passed down from a Spanish great-great grandfather (actually, it was his mother’s name, but immigration recorded it incorrectly so Garcia we are.)
The least obvious to outsiders is Great Grams’ spaghetti sauce. Tirzah Mae’s Italian great-great grandmother taught the recipe to her German daughter-in-law. Tirzah Mae’s German great-grandmother taught it to her own German daughter-in-law. And when Tirzah Mae’s mother (who is mostly a mutt, but 3/8ths German) married her father? He handed her his mother’s recipe for Great Grams’ spaghetti sauce. And at least once a month, we make up a pot, serving it (when the German mutt mother remembers) with Mediterranean green olives.
And right in the middle, there’s the bit of Tirzah Mae’s Mediterranean heritage that infuses our everyday life.
Daniel is papa, as was his father, as was his father. It makes sense. Papa is dad both in Spanish and Italian.
And since Daniel is papa, I am mama. It doesn’t make sense, you see, for Daniel to be papa and me mommy. Papa and mommy don’t go together.
So despite my protestations that Daniel and I, and our Tirzah Mae, are All-American and that, if anything, we are of Northern European stock, I am forced to admit that we are not uninfluenced by Daniel’s Southern heritage.
I am reminded, daily, as I try to decide whether to change the storybook’s words from “Mommy” to “Mama”. I am reminded when I can rule out half of the onesies in the store as being ineligible for purchase, since they declare the wearer “Mommy’s” or “Daddy’s” or “Mom’s” or “Dad’s” little girl.
Tirzah Mae hasn’t a mom or a dad. She has a mama and a papa.