Thursday, March 30, 2023

Mistaken identity and appreciating our differences

by CAROL SHIRK KNAPP Contributing Writer
| March 15, 2023 1:00 AM

Mistaken identity — I can now see how people believe someone did something because they saw someone, and that person looked just like another person.

Here is what happened between us and our daughter. Brenda arrived home this week from a month of giving nursing care at a Samaritan's Purse field hospital in Turkey — in one of its worst-hit earthquake areas. She experienced a 6.3 aftershock, telling us later that she could barely stand up and medical supplies flew everywhere.

When she first traveled in early March — with no communication — Terry and I sighed with relief to see her in a Samaritan's Purse video — in a yellow knit hat, headlamp strapped on — helping through the night set up the hospital. I took a screenshot and made it my Facebook profile photo.

Down the line, I had a two-sentence email — nothing on how she is doing or anything useful. Just, “Mom — that's not me in the video. That's funny.”

What! I don't know my own kid? Everybody in the family thought it was her. Closer examination revealed a possible mole she doesn't have — and maybe her dimples weren't as obvious. Was this person a little younger? I had to stretch thin to say this was not Brenda.

Today her dad happened across a televised news piece from a couple of weeks ago — CBN News in Jerusalem. They had filmed the work being done by Samaritan's Purse in Turkey. A 1,100-bed hospital incapacitated by the earthquake — more than Spokane's Sacred Heart and Deaconess combined — was “replaced” by a field hospital with 52 ward beds, eight emergency room beds, four intensive care beds, and two operating rooms. To date, they have cared for more than 3,600 patients since opening a month ago.

In the CBN News reel, there was a certain nurse dressed in blue scrubs and a red bandanna tying back her hair, gesturing vehemently and speaking to the Turkish language interpreter instructions for her patient. No sound — but the facial expressions and body language left little room for argument. This man better do exactly as he was directed.

And there she was — finally — our girl. Putting in 12-hour, round-the-clock shifts — sleeping in a tent — laying it on the line to help people get well. There was no doubt. We had her mannerisms to match her face — more of the story.

Once again I changed my FB profile photo. Certain this time it really was the child we raised — still having no idea who the “other” Brenda is. I'm about ready to believe that business about each person having a doppelganger — a double — somewhere on the planet.

Yet — even if that were true — there is so much more to a person than looking like another. Our mistaken identity flub has me appreciating the differences. There is no way this doppelganger person can be our Brenda — who loves loons — who is a firearms training instructor in Alaska — who isn't Jewish but celebrates its feasts — who can pull an all-nighter at the casino — who married a man twenty-two years older, and together they're raising five kids.

I've added a new thought to my thoughts. If only we — the human race — could learn to use our one-of-a-kind for good in each other.

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