Saturday, January 9, 2016

Meeting My Mother

Originally published on February 15, 2008...

Background: 

When I was 3 years old, my parents divorced. Somehow, my father got custody of me. Unheard of in the very early 1960’s. Well, he left me with his mother (for 5 years until he remarried) and prevented my mother from having any further contact with me. When I was 18, I asked him for some data on her so I could find her – like a birthdate. He told me he “did not remember”. I still remember my ex-husband’s birthdate, but perhaps he was “just being a guy” in not remembering birthdates. Finally, when I was about 26, my mother contacted him (again). He relented and gave her my address.

On to Meeting my Mother:

In September 1985, I was in the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany (my second tour). One afternoon, I received a letter. I did not recognize the name and did not think I knew anyone living in Austin, Texas. So, I opened the letter and quickly looked at the bottom of the letter where I read “I have always loved you, your mother xxxxx”. (I am leaving out her name so as to preserve privacy).

I am afraid that I screamed and began to shake and cry. In fact, just remembering this moment brings tears to my eyes. I had long wanted to find my mother and here she had contacted me! My fellow platoon members came running to see what was wrong. I was holding the letter in one hand and the photo she sent in my other hand. I could not speak, I just stood there shaking and crying. Finally, someone (probably my platoon sergeant) got me to sit down and I was able to read the letter.

She had included her phone number and my platoon sergeant gave me permission to go home and call her. I went straight home and did just that. There was no way I was going to merely write her and wait for a reply. I had to talk to her.

On the phone, we both cried with joy. I have had moments of joy in my life but none to compare with this event. We decided that we would write some letters and record some voice tapes so we could catch up on each other’s lives. Shortly thereafter, we made arrangements for me to get leave and come to Austin to meet her.

So, in Feb 1986, I met my mother for the first time since age 3. We got along so very well. We had so much in common. I loved various arts and crafts and so did she. And we both loved cats. I had finally found out where I got some of my personality traits – from her and from her mother. I am a talker – I got criticized quite a bit as a child for being a “chatterbox”. Although my mother is more shy and quiet than I, her mother was a talker like me. I finally felt that I belonged.

As time went by, in more letters and voice tapes, I learned more about my early years. Some of the information she gave me was very helpful when I later underwent psycho-therapy. I so admire and respect my mother for having the courage to tell me the unvarnished truth of those early years. I am so very grateful to have her in my life.

My mother is married to an absolutely wonderful man. Retired from 34 years in the Air Force, he does not put up with much BS and is focused on the “bottom line”. However, he is very compassionate and expresses it quite well. He is in the medical field and sometimes I think he would do it for free. He seems to sincerely love helping people. He has treated me as if I were his own daughter from the first day we met. He has become my “Dad” in every way.

I jumped into my story at this point for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to present a happy ending before I get into the less pleasant parts of my story. Remembering this happy ending will sustain me when I write of that other stuff. Also, my memories of my early years (birth to 3 years) are understandably dim. I wanted to lay the foundation of where I get the rest of the story – my mother’s recounting of what she remembers.

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