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There's Always Hope

I was adopted when I was 3 months old, in the 1950s. I always wanted to know who my parents were, particularly my mother. I often looked at women passing by wondering if maybe "she" was my mother.

When I was 25 and had a 2 year old daughter, I just had to know who my parents were. I went to court to have my records opened to learn names and birthplaces. I learned my parents were married at the time of my birth. I went to the library, this before the days of the internet, and looked up their names in many, many phone books nationwide. Having no luck I decided to call the town halls in the towns where my parents were born, thinking maybe someone, especially in the small town where my father was born, might know them. I called my father's home town hall first. The woman I spoke to knew of my father as he was well known because of his successful career. It was then I learned of his death a couple years before. Keeping my secret as to why I was inquiring, knowing some people won't tell you anything in these situations, I asked if she knew of his first wife, and coincidentally she did; my mother was her child's nursery school teacher years before.

I wasn't able to find my mother through phone book searches or with information from her home town hall, so I decided to focus more on learning about my father since information and history was more available. I spoke to someone who worked with my father at a newspaper, one of his first jobs, and as it turned out, he happened to know of me, saying he saw my mother at a social function when I was 18 years old, and at this time she told him about me. He had her address and phone number at his home. I called him that evening for the information.

My mother seemed very happy to have me back in her life. Although we lived 500 miles away from each other, we got together a few times. We spoke on the phone and exchanged letters often. When I remarried a few years later she was my matron of honor.
My mother didn't tell her family about me, but she tell her friends and co-workers. During one visit she introduced me to her neighbors and co-workers. About five years after we met my younger daughter was born. I called my mother. She did not answer. After calling a few times I called her office and learned she was away. I left a message with the secretary that my mother had another granddaughter.
My mother got the message and called me with congratulations, but, she was also very upset with me. My mother said I shouldn't have left a message as not everyone knew about me. I didn't understand. I visited her at her office and she introduced me to several people, so why would I have thought it was an issue.

I learned at this time my mother's father was gravely ill, that she took leave from work, and traveled across the country to help her mother take care of him. After my grandfather died my mother told me she told her mother about me during the time she was helping to take care of her father. Her mother said to say nothing to her father about me that it would hurt him too much. Apparently my grandmother didn't want to have anything to do with me.

This was essentially the end of my relationship with my mother. For the next few years I continued to write to my mother, and she sent me cards with a few words and a gift for birthdays and holidays, but there was no longer any conversation. I am not one to have this kind of relationship with anyone, and especially not my mother, or someone I would think I should be close to, like family/friends. I finally told my mother I didn't appreciate this kind of relationship, so it stopped, for the most part.
I continued to write to my mother a couple times a year with family updates and photos, but I no longer heard from her. A couple years after I started the semi-annual updates a letter was returned to me, return to sender it said on the envelope, indicating she had moved. I had learned a little trick to find out the forwarding address and it worked. I found her again. I continued to write, and never heard from heard from her - I also never have had mail returned to me.

Time moved along...I wanted to know more. I decided it wasn't going to matter who I talked to at this point - I had nothing to lose, my mother wasn't talking to me anyway, but I potentially a lot to gain.

My parents remained married for 10 years. My father remarried twice, my mother not again until she was in her 60s. Neither ever had any other children. I had never been told what was said to friends as to what happened to me after I was born - I don't think family was aware of the pregnancy as they were not living close by at the time.

From what little information my mother gave me about her parents, brother, and his children, I was able to research, and through my grandfather's obituary, found the names of my 3 cousins.

I found the eldest cousin. My daughters and I met with him and his family. We had a great day, having a picnic, my kids and his played well together. I learned he and his sisters knew of me. We kept in contact for a short time, then I learned he told my mother of our meeting, and I didn't hear from him again.

Several years later I decided to see who I could find on my father's side. Again, because my father was well known, I was able to find the woman he was married to when he died. Fortunately she loved him so much, that 17 years after my father died she still had some of his belongings, those that were most important to me. Family and travel/work photo albums and papers, letters to him from his mother, an address book, etc. My existence was never known to her, but she did not doubt it because I looked just like him - and who else would care to find her with this story. This woman gave me everything of my father's, a very selfless act. This woman was still upset about my father's death, and ultimately knowing about me. I don't think she was ever able to get past it. She was quite a bit younger than my father and died a year ago - I think from a broken heart.

I am forever grateful to my father's widow for all she shared with me with things, and the sharing of the person he was day to day. My father's belongings are so important to me. The address book led me to my father's family - all of whom were happy to know me, all of whom I still communicate with.

Being who I am, I still wasn't satisfied with all those I had found, dead and alive. Then Facebook happened. I researched more. I am now "friends" with my 3 cousins on my mother's side. We don't really communicate, but we "like" or make a brief comment on a post of each other's once in a while. I'm satisfied with this - perhaps one day we'll share more.

My mother still didn't bother with me, but I continued to write and send a few photos of the kids, now with her great-grandchildren, a couple times a year, Mother's Day and her birthday in late December. A few years ago, and I'm not sure why, I think because I started having grandchildren and couldn't understand how someone could not want to share with them, I decided to send my mother flowers for her birthday. As it turned out, the flower shop owner I contacted 500 miles away, knew my mother, and was quite friendly with her. She also knew about me. She said my mother didn't share much about her personal life, that she was very private, but she did share that information with her some years ago.

Last fall my mother became very ill. She was in the hospital with cardiac problems and on a respirator. My younger cousin sent me a message on Facebook to let me know she was not likely to live. I was visiting my daughter and her family at the time, just 2 hours away from her. I wrote and thanked my cousin for telling me and told her I happened to be close by and that I was unsure as to what to do. I didn't want to intrude, antagonize, etc., that regardless of what I wanted I had to think of my mother first. My cousin said she'd support whatever decision I made. I thought long and hard but decided that because my mother didn't want to be part of my life, it wouldn't be right to visit her - regardless of what I wanted. I did not visit my mother. I wrote to my cousin and told her - she said she felt I made the right decision.

Although I hadn't ever spoken again to the flower shop owner, I decided to write to her to let her to make sure she knew my mother was very ill. She did know - and she and her family were taking care of her cat, and visiting her regularly. The flower shop owner said she'd keep me informed as to my mother's condition, and she did. She told my mother I contacted her and that I knew she was ill. My mother told her to tell me not to worry. Wow, I thought, my mother spoke to me - of course that's all there was to it.

My mother had a miraculous recovery. She went into a rehab center for a few weeks and is now apparently up and about, seemingly healthier and happier than ever - the flower shop owner keeps me informed.

My mother turned 80 years old in December. I ordered flowers for her. The flower shop owner said she'd make a very special bouquet of all my mother's favorites. She delivered them herself and said my mother was very surprised and happy to receive them.

I've still haven't heard from my mother - and I suspect I never will. All I can do is continue to write and send pictures twice a year, knowing I'm doing all I can - it is her choice to not have me be a part of her life. My mother does not send anything back to me, as in, return to sender, so I'd like to think she does want to hear from me, she just can't be a part of my life for whatever reasons. I don't understand, but we all have reasons for why we do, or don't do whatever it is. I am a mother and a grandmother and can't imagine not wanting to have a relationship with my daughters and grandchildren. Maybe I'm more sensitive because I'm adopted, but I don't think so. Maybe one day I'll understand my mother, by way of a letter she has saved for me?, or maybe she'll decide she wants us in her life - better late than never, or I'll just never know? I can only hope.

ejjokw ejjokw 56-60 Apr 10, 2012

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