A 48 year old secret that I want to tell you…

As this Sunday dawns. I stand at the threshold of my 48th year….and it’s time that I revealed the secret burden that I’ve been hiding from you the last few months.

This may divert from my usual “gee, this past year kinda sucked but was kinda OK” birthday post.

Because this last year was freaking AMAZING.

The kind of year of my life that I had always dreamed and hoped for.

It wasn’t perfect.  But it was jaw-dropping at times…in all the best ways.

And a 47 year old mystery dissolved in a matter of minutes and a lifelong burden lifted.

Some of you may know that I was adopted when I was six weeks old.  For some adoptees, myself included, this comes with a wagonload of questions, issues, etc.

Speaking for myself, I spent most of my life feeling unwanted and out of place, even with my own family and those closest to me.   At home, at work, it didn’t matter.  Apparently it’s quite common among adoptees, and I empathize with those among us who fought that battle in their life.

I always knew that I was adopted.  It was never a secret, my parents told me from the moment that I was able to comprehend the concept.

And as kids are wont to do, I used that in shitty ways.  I remember my mom being mad at me for something and my reply was “Well I’m gonna go find my REAL parents” (Sorry Mom) or words to that effect.

Of course I never did.

Until this past March.

The law preventing adoptees from accessing their original birth certificate was quietly changed in Missouri a couple of years ago and as of January 1, 2018 adoptees can now request their original birth records…so I did.

Unless you have no idea what your biological roots are, you may not have any idea how powerful the concept of not knowing who you are or where you came from can be.  Now I did a DNA study a couple of years ago, which answered a few questions and you can find a post about it on this blog.

After sending in my requests, the months of agonizing wait ensued until a chilly Friday in March, when a nondescript envelope was waiting for me when I got home from work.

I’m pretty sure that I was weeping before the envelope was fully opened.  Nope.  I’m positive that I was.  In fact, I pretty well cried that whole weekend and freaked the shite out of my kids who I kept trying to reassure between bouts of tears that I really was okay.

I called my sister before I even left the mailbox.  She’s also adopted (from a different family) and would understand better than anyone what I was going through.  We cried together on the phone and I promised to keep her informed as to anything I found out.

Here’s what I found out:

My birth name was Robert John.

This surprised me because I had fully expected to see “Baby Boy Jones” or something along those lines.

And it also listed my birth mother’s name but no father’s name.  Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, in literally 5 minutes, I located a likely individual matching the name, approximate age and profession (my parents had always told me that my birth mother was a nurse.)

I studied her Facebook profile, poring over her photos and wondered…could this be she?

Then I pondered what to do for several days.  I realized that I was opening a 47 year old can of worms and possibly disrupting a peaceful life for her which was nothing that I took lightly.  I did not want this to be a negative experience for anyone.  I’m not that selfish.

The following Wednesday, I wrote a carefully worded letter and mailed it to the address that I had found with no expectations.  In the letter, I expressed my thought that she could POSSIBLY be my birth mother and if she she was indeed my birth mother, I would understand if she could not respond to this letter, for whatever reason.

A few days later, I was elbow deep in replacing the rear brakes on my girlfriend’s car when my cell phone rang.  I saw the area code and knew instantly who it was.  I grabbed my phone and hustled to my car to have some privacy for this moment.

For the first time ever in my 47 years, I heard my birth mother’s voice.

Her voice was soft and kind as she confirmed that she was indeed my birth mother.  She told me my birth father’s name and gave me a bit of the history of what happened.

I tried to keep it together and keep the conversation from getting too emotional.  We ended the conversation after about 20 minutes agreeing to keep the line of communication open.

The feelings that followed are hard to put into words.

All I can say is I have a sense of peace about who I am and where I came from.

And a tremendous sense of relief.  I had a host of fears about this contact.  None of them came true.

I have creeped on my biological father’s Facebook page.  My birth mother told me that he looks like Mark Twain.  She’s not very far off.  But I’ve taken no steps to communicate with him.  I just have this gut feeling that it won’t go well.  Knowing who he is is enough for me now.

And for the first time in my life, I am celebrating my birthday knowing exactly what had escaped me for all my years prior.

Join me as I raise my glass to 48, Daniel Gerard/Robert John.  Thanks to all of your for being a part of the journey.  If 48 is anything like 47, I’m in for a hell of good year!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The unexpected magic of an ancient cat…

minka2

Allow me to introduce you to Minka… she’s 21 years old (101 human years old, according to Cat World)… she’s a tiny little lady, with a soft rusty purr and and a crabby sounding meow.  She’d rough-looking and graying but carries herself with the never-ending pride of cat attitude.  She’s fighting the ailments of any geriatric cat and she lives at a local animal clinic that was going to be closed over the holiday weekend.  And I got roped into cat-sitting her.

I had no idea how happy she would make me.

This little lady gave me such a warm sense of the holiday… it’s hard to put into words.

She spend the holiday weekend in the warm carpeted confines of my son’s closet, which she took to immediately.  She got lots of attention and love, mainly from my boy who was happy to volunteer his room for her guest room.

For some unusual reason, the knowledge that there’s a good chance that this would be her last Christmas gave me a tremendous sense of purpose.  If the cat gods call her home before next December 25, I will have the satisfaction of knowing that her final Christmas was not spent alone in a steel cage, but taking naps with a teenager curled up on the floor next to her… gentle face rubs and lots of friendly words.

Sometimes, I would sneak away from the family activities to run upstairs and lay on the floor.  She’d rouse herself from her soft, warm bed to come greet me, get a few pats and issue a gravelly meow and then head back to her bed to relax.

And that was enough to put me back into a great holiday spirit.

An act of kindness towards someone (or something) that can never repay you is an exquisite feeling.  It’s indescribable.  It’s as if you’re making a deposit back into that Bank of the Universe that has shown you the occasional kindness or stroke of good fortune.  And it allows you to feel grateful for all the good things that you enjoy in your life.

The beauty of magic (especially Christmas magic) is that you can’t predict the source or timing… but even an ancient cat can be the gateway for a little magic of your own.

This won’t be a lengthy post.  Just enough to say thank you to Minka.  Thank you for spending the holiday with us.  Thanks for the rusty purrs as you got your face rubbed.  Thanks for helping Christmas feel like Christmas again.   And if you’re still with us next Christmas, you’ve got a standing reservation at my place and the welcome mat is out.

And to you, dear readers, may 2018 bring you magic, happiness and peace.

47 years and counting…

A few years ago, I wrote a post on my birthday called Reflections on 44. It remains one the most popular posts I’ve ever written.

I know that many, if not most posts I write are dark. I don’t know why that is, other than for some strange reason, the darkness rouses the Muse and words flow more freely. In case you were wondering, I don’t spend my days in some sort of gothic state of depression. Quite the contrary, I am happy most of the time. But it isn’t those moments when I am driven to the keyboard.

So today, on this auspicious 47th anniversary of my entering this world, I decided to reflect on the good in my life.

The first thing that I want to mention is you. Knowing that you take precious time out of your day to scan these words brings me hope…hope that one day, I might turn this habit of verbal doodling might become my life’s work. That’s there still value in these thoughts that bubble up in my brain. That one day, I may truly become a writer, complete with paycheck. Thank you for your presence, the words of encouragement that you leave me and for the gift of your time.

I thank the gods for my friends. You know who you are. The trials of the past year would have been unbearable without you.

Happiness is not a state of being, I’ve come to realize. Happiness is in enjoying the moments that fill our every day and being fully present within them. My own are the simplest: that first cup of coffee in the morning quiet of my front porch, smoking and watching the hummingbirds zip and dive around my neighbor’s feeder. When my newly adopted cat jumps up on the couch and onto my lap, hesitantly craning her neck out to touch her nose to mine. When I have my kids on the couch next to me, their presence (even though they are enraptured by their phones/tablets) brings me peace and joy.
Singing along (badly) with a favorite song while I drive. Flopping down and watching an episode of “Longmire” at the end of a long day. An unexpected message from someone. Watching the sun go down. Listening to the night sounds while I smoke the last cigarette of the day before bed.

That is happiness to me. And my days are filled with those moments.

Surprisingly, these days I have an abundance of hope. I can’t explain why, but I have a concrete sense that no matter what, everything will turn out ok.

Cheers to 47 years. I don’t know if I have 47 more, but I will make the most of those I do have. I plan on making changes for the better in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Thank you for your birthday wishes. Thank you for continuing to read. Thank you for being you. My wish for you is health, happiness and hope in the coming year.

What you think about, you bring about. Never forget that.

“Walk tall, kick ass and take no guff from those swine.” – HST