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Alesya Opelt Is Not My Name

08/19/12

Larry and Cindy Opelt on their honeymoon in Bermuda, August 1972

My name isn’t Alesya Opelt anymore.  My married name is Alesya Macatol, but I continue to use Alesya Opelt professionally.  People always assume it’s for because I’m a feminist.  I just let them think that.

That’s not the real reason.

During the first day of my  sophomore high school English class imposing teacher Tom Pryor conducted roll call.  After each name he checked us off and quickly moved on.

“Alesya Opelt?”

I raised my hand.  Mr. Pryor paused and looked at me.  A 15-year-old’s worse nightmare – extra attention from a teacher.

“Opelt, Opelt, Opelt…” he repeated as he rubbed his chin in thought.  “Are you related to Cindy Opelt?”

“Yes,” I nodded trying to say as little as possible.

Mr. Pryor smiled, “And how are you related?”

“She’s my mother.” I responded.  The whole class laughed.  I wondered if I had something on my shirt.

“It doesn’t seem like Cindy is old enough to have someone your age.” Mr. Pryor questioned.  I shrugged.

After class I asked my friends Lisa and Susan, “Why did everyone laugh at me?”

“Normally, when you are asked you how you related to someone the answer is your aunt or cousin or something that.  It’s surprising that it was your mom,” Lisa explained.  Susan nodded in agreement.

“Oooohhhh,” I replied.  No wonder I didn’t get the joke.  It wasn’t surprising to me.

Cindy and Larry Opelt at a friend's wedding, May 1982

Growing up in a small town this happened all the time.  I had an unusual last name and only my immediate family lived within 100 miles.  Every time I’d introduce myself to an adult the response would always come back something like “Your father Larry and I play golf together,” or “Of course you are!  You talk just like Cindy,” or “Your dad and I have worked together for twenty years.”

Each time it happened I beamed.

Cindy and Larry Opelt in Adrian, Michigan - Christmas 2003

I was so proud when someone figured out I was my parent’s daughter.  My dad is smart, sharp and honest.   My mom is stylish, confident and shares my exact sense of humor.  They are both hard working and trustworthy with never hair out of place.  I’ve always felt like it gave me instant credibility when someone knew I was their daughter.

When I got married my only worry was that no one would realize I was the Opelt’s daughter anymore.  Silly, I know.  But I loved my last name.  Not because it signified that I was an my own person, but because it means I am Cindy and Larry’s person.  I use Opelt professionally because I never wanted to lose that distinction.  My parents are such good people.  It’s an honor to be associated with them.

Cindy and Larry Opelt in Gulf Shores, Alabama - March, 2007

Today is my parents 40th wedding anniversary.  In those forty years they’ve done a lot.  They had successful careers, earned degrees, built a house, traveled, raised two daughters and welcomed two granddaughters.  But their biggest accomplishment is having a happy marriage for the last four decades.  Growing up it gave me and my sister a solid base to navigate the trials of childhood.  Now it gives us a life to which we can aspire.

Living several states away from my hometown, no one asks me if I’m Larry and Cindy’s daughter when I introduce myself.  It doesn’t stop me from wishing that they would.  It’s now more likely that they ask me if I’m Maribelle or Dorothy’s mom.  And that’s pretty good too.

My parents with my daughters Maribelle Cynthia and Dorothy Lee

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!  I love you both very much. Thank you for being the ultimate role models. ~A

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17 Responses to “Alesya Opelt Is Not My Name”

  1. Kealy OPELT says:

    Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

    I agree, Mom and Dad are some of the best role models we could have ever had. 🙂

  2. Lisa OWEN Moore says:

    Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. Opelt! I feel the same way about my maiden name, even though I did give it up for simplicity. My parents celebrate 40 years next year, and you’re right, talk about inspiring!

    PS-How cool is it that I made the text if your blog?!

    • Alesya says:

      Thanks for the kind comments Lisa! Yes, you are in there. That memory of the 1st day of school in 10th grade feels like it was yesterday. Just one of those times. Glad you were there to help me through it.

  3. Cynthia Opelt says:

    What a beautiful tribute. Dad and I love all of you and are extremely proud. We feel blessed to have two daughters, grateful that Josh is our son-in-law and thrilled to be grandparents to Maribelle and Dorothy Lee. Forty years went faster than you think. I’d do it all again. I married the man I love and continue to cherish him more each day. Thanks for the anniversary card.We never expected such recognition. We only do the best we can because we love all of you. XXXXX

  4. Carolyn Feldkamp says:

    What a wonderful gift you have given your parents, Aleysa!It’s been 40 years that we have known your folks. Cindy and I began our teaching career in Adrian two weeks after their wedding. We’ve been friends since then and have wonderful memories of our families vacationing together as you, Kealy, Jamie and Michael grew up! We agree- Cindy and Larry have been great role models and friends through the years.
    Love, Carolyn and Jim

    • Alesya says:

      Carolyn and Jim – Yes, we have wonderful memories of our vacations too. We feel so lucky to have you Jim, Jamie and Michael in our lives for the last 40 years. Love, Alesya

  5. Rosanna Appelt says:

    awww — this is so sweet! thank you for sharing this with us!!

  6. “I was so proud when someone figured out I was my parent’s daughter.”

    I can’t remember the last time I read something that felt so powerful.

  7. How sweet! This post made me tear up. Happy 40th anniversary to your parents!!

  8. Alesya says:

    Thanks Katie! It makes me tear up too.

  9. Joy Caro says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your parents! Happy 40th Opelts!

  10. Carrie says:

    What a great tribute to your parents and a wonderful way to honor them by continuing to use their name in that way. As I get married soon, deciding what to do about my maiden name is a struggle for me, because I am my parents daughter and that makes me proud as well. And I have family in Adrian. I’ve only had the privilege to go there once, but it is a lovely small town.

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