Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chapter 6: HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

     I went to bed.  I'll make the call tomorrow.  No big deal.  What's another twenty four hours?
One sheep, two sheep, three....  It'll be Monday when I call, so there's less chance of her being surrounded by her family.  Four sheep, five, six.... Yeah that would be weird.  What if one of her children answered the phone and I asked for her and then she would have the challenge of talking to someone that she gave birth to twenty four years ago while her family- who may or may not know about me- listened on.  Thirty five, thirty six,  thirty sev...  I mean, how is she supposed to handle that?  All those loving eyes watching her as she tries to keep the shock from her face and answers my questions with one word answers so as not to give away what she's talking about.  She tries to veil the panic by plastering on the sort of smile that none of her loved ones have ever seen her express, confusion ensues among them.  "Who is this American woman?  Why is she talking to our mother and causing her face to do that?  That is definitely not a Mother's Day face".  One hundred and thirty eight, one hundred and thirty nine, one hundred an...  When I count sheep I don't count a flock of beige sheep standing in a paddock.  I tried that.  Inevitably the sheep start moving around and changing their formation- though still huddled together.  Sheep have no personal boundaries. It becomes impossible to count them efficiently.  Heaven forbid I double count any of them.  How is one supposed to get an accurate count of these sheep?  My sheep jump one by one over a fence.  Each one is hued a different vivid cartoonish color and the object is to "out jump" the previous sheep by doing some sort of flourish or trick move.  It's a sheep jump hot dogging battle. 

Digression is my enemy.

     One in the morning.  Wide awake.  Adrenaline rushing through my body.  What I have discovered here is that the longer one has to ruminate over the possibility of a life long awaited event, the crazier one becomes.  There was absolutely no chance of getting one wink of sleep until I had completed this task (as it were).  Screw it.  I'm doing it.  It is what it is (whatever that means).

     I dialed the number.  Brrr brrrr.  The familiar double ring of the australian ring tone- as opposed to the american single Brrrrrrrrrr sound.  What am I doing?  Suddenly.  
"Hullo?" (that pleasing lilting tone- common in australian women.  So polite and welcoming)
"Hi. I'm calling for Lynette?"
"Yes?"
"Is that you?"
"That's me"
"Ok. (gulp. Breathe.) My name is Julie and I have some personal questions to ask you.  If this is a bad time I can call back whenever is good for you..."
"No.  You can ask me now"
"Ok. Well.  Did you have a baby on April 7th, 1965?"
"Yes. Yes I did."
"Did you place her for adoption?"
"I did."
"Well.  I am that baby......Happy Mother's Day?"
Silence.   Then...
"Well.  This is lovely.  I'm so happy you found me"
Heart racing.  Hallelujah chorus playing in my head.  Can't breath.  Laughing.

Full disclosure- I can't recall the exact conversation that followed (it was twenty four years ago!) but it was open and warm and I felt that she was thrilled to talk to me.  There was laughter and joy and random questions and it was all good.  At one point she told me that she thought that I had found her because she had opened the door by sharing her story.  A few days earlier, on May 8, her daughter Ann-Maree had had her first baby.  It was a long and difficult labor- and Lynette had been there throughout the process.  It was emotional and , at times, harrowing.  The experience had brought back memories of Lynette's first experience with child-birth.  It had been something that she had mostly kept to herself- but this time, she had felt the need to vent.  She sat down with a dear friend and shared her story from twenty four years earlier.  She disclosed to me that, though her husband was very aware of the story, she had shared it with very few others- including her other children.  Her mother and one of her sisters and her then fiancee had been aware of the situation, and helped her through it.  Her father- and other siblings, had not been privy to the information.  So, when she finally opened up to her friend the week before, it had been an outpouring of pent up feelings and she had felt a weight lift from her shoulders to have finally released this information.  She said that the fact that I had found her so soon after was proof that the universe listens and provides for the truths that need to be told.  A door had been opened.  As one who is not a stranger to so-called coincidence, this made (and makes) perfect sense to me.

     As our conversation continued, she told me that she had received a call from her father  several hours earlier telling her that he had given her number to someone who had been inquiring after her- an american.  Though Lynn had been dumb-founded about what this may be about, her husband John, a charming Irish gentleman, had immediately exclaimed "It's that daughter of yours- she's come looking for ya".  John is quite perceptive.  Lynn told me that she had met John while she was already pregnant with me.  He had been supportive of whatever choice she made about the life of this unborn child.  They had become engaged during the pregnancy and married soon after the delivery.  Yes, they had waffled back and forth about whether to give me up or keep me as their own and had ultimately chosen the outcome that we are all aware of.  Lynn disclosed that it had taken her more time than expected to conceive her next child (my brother Noel) and she had felt that God was punishing her for giving up her first baby.  How heart-breaking.  I remember assuring her that she had made the right decision and I harbored no resentment for what she had chosen to do.

     All in all, we spoke for close to two hours.  She told me about my half-siblings (two brothers and a sister) and how she would have some explaining to do.  She also told me about her five siblings (only one of whom had known about me- my Auntie Val).  And, she told me about her wonderful parents, Noel and Margaret Price.  While Noel was still alive (though not yet aware of my existence), Margaret had passed away in 1978.  Margaret (or Maxie) was the other person who had helped and supported Lynn during her pregnancy with me, and it was bittersweet that she never got to know about what had happened to me- and even more so that I had never gotten to know her.

     We finished our conversation with a promise to keep in touch and send photos to each other immediately.  It was truly a fairy tale outcome.  It couldn't have gone better.  After hanging up the phone my head was spinning.  It was a culmination of emotions that I wasn't sure what to do with. Honestly, it's a blur.  The next memory I have is noticing that the sun was coming up and it was Mother's Day.  I was exhausted.  I went to my parents bedroom and crawled in next to my Mom.  I put my arms around her and cried myself to sleep.  I don't know if I was crying out of guilt or joy or confusion.  I just knew that my life had changed.  And I knew that I wanted my mom to know that I loved her.

     This was just the beginning of the next twenty five years of questions, intrigue, and ultimate answers.  To get closure, one must have all of the pieces in place.  To say some of those pieces were harder to uncover is an understatement.