On June 17th I received a voicemail message that my biological mother was taken off life support and in hospice. This came as a surprise as I didn’t even know she was in the hospital. On June 18th she passed away. When she brought me into this world I never had a chance to say hello and she left this world and I never had the chance to say goodbye.
In the 1960’s adoption was an uneasy subject and not really talked about. Today it is a subject of daily life. I am not sure if the transition is easier for the child being adopted, or the adoptive parents. The one who suffers is the mother who has to give her child away. The decision she has to make to put her child in the hands of the unknown must be excruciating.
As for the child brought into this new family there is, and always will be, unanswered questions that leave one feeling incomplete. An empty feeling like something is missing from their life. Not wanting to feel ungrateful the adoptee withholds these feelings, but the missing link lingers on; grows stronger with each passing day. There comes a time for the child to reach out and find the part of us that has been lost.
Mine started at a very young age. I always asked a lot of questions and found out I was adopted around the age of 6, maybe younger. It was one of those subjects no one really wanted to talk about. As I grew older and asked more questions, the more my Dad would act like I was crazy. Teasing me that I was never adopted. My mother on the other hand took a different approach and began to tell me stories about my adoption; stories that would later be confirmed.
In 1999 we moved into our home and in 2001, after my second attempt to find my biological mother, I was sitting in her apartment talking with her. She had lived in Cleves, OH her entire life. She lived a hard life. She was raised by her grandmother and step sisters. She too felt as if she never fit in. Married three different times and producing two sons with different fathers she worked in at a Indiana distillery. She also ran the local bar.
One night while at the bar she became friendly with a married man. The next time Rip Van Winkle came back into the bar to have a drink, my biological mother was telling him she was pregnant. He left and she never heard from him again. He would later die in a trucking accident. I have only one picture of him.
My biological mother was born April 14, 1926 and was 41 years old when she gave birth to me. She decided it be best if she gave me up for adoption. While she was working in the bar, her belly getting bigger and bigger, there was never a mention of having a baby. Not even my step brothers asked her about me.
While giving birth she made the decision not to touch me. Before she left the hospital she had also made the decision to tell everyone I had died at birth. For 33 years she never thought of me. Until one Saturday in August 2001 when she received a call from her son in Florida; an investigator had found him and wanted to know if he knew anything about having a sister. She told him to give her all the information and she would call him back.
One hour later, I was talking to my biological mother on the other end of the line. She cried a lot. We agreed to meet at her apartment in Cleves, OH (just 15 minutes away) the very next day. I was nervous, but more nervous for her. I didn’t want anything. I didn’t expect anything. I had no ill intentions to make her life more difficult. I was ok with just a picture and to hear a little bit about my health history. She had told me my oldest step brother had passed away from stomach cancer about 4 months before we met.
We would spend the next 12 years getting to know one another, if that is what you want to call it. She told me the same stories over and over. She talked about her son’s and her family, but never really asked about my life. She never really talked about me or to me. I assumed it was just hard for her to do since in her mind, body and soul I had died 45 years ago. I have always felt like a Ghost in her presence. It hurt at times, but for the most part I had learned to take the good with the bad.
She spent Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family and John’s. She loved my husband the most; often saying on many occasions, if she were younger she would marry him. For the most part she tolerated my boys, but never really had any vested interest in them.
She was a heavy two a pack day smoker, but gave up drinking a long time ago. She was full of spunk. Cursed like a sailor, was prejudice, and didn’t really have faith. She would go to church now and then, but thought it was all a bunch of bull.
When she took her last breath on June 18, 2013 I could not be there with her. She decided to move to Florida to live with her son a year ago. She was not happy there and often called me and said she wanted to come home. I hate to think she was alone in her last minutes of life and it saddens me to think she most likely was.
I can never really say I have seen God within her, but I know she had witness God within me. I would have loved to whispered the “Lord’s Prayer” into her ears. I would have loved to have held her hand and stroked her head to let her know I was there and she was not alone. But just as she came into my life not touching me, or holding me, she leaves the same way. I am no longer her ‘Ghost in the room’, but I am still her daughter.