This is Mom: Joy Agnes Carr (Joy A. Carr)
Joy reduced her middle name, Agnes, to a simple ‘A’, which she placed between Joy and Carr when signing her name. Mom loathed Agnes. Whenever anyone would ask her what the ‘A’ stood for she’d say, “Oh, my dear, it’s too dreadful to utter.”
When I was in Junior High, her signature became an intimate part of our relationship. I practiced it daily. The spine of her J, straight and stern; A, for the dreaded Agnes, round and supple and at Carr’s end, two rrs that trailed off as if an afterthought.
A below-average student, I excelled at cursive and was thrilled to finally be able to use my talents by signing Joy’s name on my absence slips and report cards. (Sample of a report card from Van Nuys Jr. High I’d forged)
I started bragging to other students how well I copied Mom’s signature and before long they were coming to me with samples of their parents’ signatures to perfect. Finally I was sought after and waved to in the hall or across the cafeteria.
When my run as superior signature copier came to an abrupt end, I found myself in the counselor’s office with Mom as she went through all my absent slips and report cards, one by one, separating her signature from mine. With the exception of a few, she could barely tell the difference.
“Uncanny,” she said and looked at me as if she didn’t know who I was.
I am you, I wanted to say.
The counselor told Mom I was a bad influence on the other students and I was being expelled.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” she said, walking me out that day, my last at Van Nuys High School.