There are moments in life, not everyone’s mind you, when things come out of the blue that give you joy and anxiety and a host of other emotions all in one instant. You feel like laughing, crying and vomiting all at the same time. Finding new family members is one of those instances.
At this point most people know of my reunion with a son I gave birth to more than 40 years ago. The instant it happened the emotions were raw and I dare say violent. This has just happened to a dear friend of mine and I was the bearer of the news.
Adoption touches many more people than I realized. When you’re going through it yourself you think you and your immediate family are the only ones, it closes in around you. Finding my friend’s sister gave me a new perspective. I can also feel the weight of the emotions she’s carrying while a possible reunion is imminent.
We weave a tangled web, all of us. I’ve come to believe by the time you are entering old age you can reflect on your life and think “what a mess”. Some of us have opportunities to revisit some of those messes, they come full circle. Some of us are just encountering messes that were left by other family members that have encompassed us without our knowing for our entire lives.
, your WTF moment.
That’s how it feels and your life takes an unexpected turn. That’s how it felt when I typed “I found her” in the subject line of that email this morning. I was so happy to do it and yet I knew she was crossing a line of demarcation in her life. Wow.
I woke up this morning to the silence of a house without power. It wasn’t unexpected. Around 5:00 I decided to get up and stoke the wood stove, try to get things together for coffee without a coffee maker. As I walked down the stairs the lights came on, the furnace fired up and within minutes coffee was hot in my cup. Ahh, little gifts.
The anticipation of this holiday always keeps me awake the night before. It’s a throwback from childhood when family gathered at the house for food, fun and the Macy’s parade. Most of these relatives I only saw once or twice a year. I loved being surrounded by people who loved me, what child doesn’t?
While lying awake I considered all that I was thankful for, an exercise that I do fairly often. It keeps things in perspective. Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I try to look at everything as being a miracle.
The thing that continues to come into my head as both a miracle and something I am profoundly thankful for is my ongoing reunion with Scott. It’s been difficult to wrap my head around having a son that is back in my life. Left as an infant, returned as an adult. Bone of my bone flesh of my flesh. Someone who has been with me through most of my life’s journey in spirit yet I was the only one that knew it.
My daughters bringing him into the fold – slowly, cautiously at first then with open arms. They speak of him with love and amazement at the similarities only relatives have. My husband helping me work through the demons that have followed me from one lifetime to another. My friends that continually point out what an amazing story this all is. A miracle in many, many ways.
Look around you today, take notice of those miracles – those little gifts. The beauty of the snow, the birds that grace our feeders, the fox tracks through the yard. Look at the smiles on the faces of those you love. Treasure those messages from those unable to join you for the holiday. Remember those that have gone before you that made the traditions you celebrate now.
Everything is a miracle.
We spent the greater part of yesterday at a high school reunion. This one was a little different, the first 10 classes of Mohawk Trail Regional High School gathered at the Charlemont Fairgrounds for a festival of sorts. It felt like a small fair with the food vendors and class tents. Bands played from the past all day long, whisking us back to youth with the power only music has on one’s memory. There were activities, group photos, reminiscing along with a table of yearbooks and photographs that did and didn’t make the cut back in the day (how those survived 35+ years is beyond me).
This is the kind of thing that reminds you how close our communities are. As I have said in the past, each town that sent kids to this regional school was a small town. My class from Rowe consisted of four people (including me). In school you make your lifetime friends I believe but for those of us that grew up in such small communities our town friends become our family. Having the reunion encompass so many years, with my class right in the middle allowed us to not only visit with our classmates but reconnect with people we wouldn’t have otherwise.
In this age of social media we are fortunate to be able to stay connected with some of our favorite people with a touch of a few buttons. It is an amazing world. When I arrived at the reunion it was good to see so many of the people I talk to so often, it felt comfortable. Then there were a few of those OMG moments. Those occurred when I recognized someone I never thought I would see at an event like this.
Good moments, moments of recognition, hugs, warmth, familiarity. These were moments spent with the people I have known since I was 5 years old. Moments talking about age, family, life. It was a time, however brief, when I felt like I was surrounded by the best parts of my family. These are the people who know you so very well. The interesting thing is that many of them I have not seen in a decade. It’s the situation you find yourself in where you just pick up where you left off.
I read somewhere a long time ago that people who know each other from their youth always see each other as they were when they were young. A trick of the mind. So all of that graying hair, weight gain or loss, baldness falls away as the conversation begins – you are really seeing their soul in some respect, their essence. You see them as you know them and always have.
For me, that’s the amazing thing about these reunions. While part of it always serves to remind me how quickly time passes I am quickly reminded that even with the passage of time we all are essentially still teenagers in our minds.
For as many years as eBay has been in existence I have been bidding on and purchasing old process photographs with children and dogs. In recent years these have become a little too pricey for me to win often. The photograph above is one I recently purchased for a very decent price. It’s an ambrotype in a pristine Union case. In the case was a slip of paper that read Myrta Hill and Mrs. R. E. Smith, woohoo! For me this is the holy grail of photography finds. I can match the photograph with a family. After a brief search on Ancestry I found Myrta’s family and was able to contact the owner of their family tree and send them a copy of the photograph.
I love it when that happens. I love the investigative work that goes into this and I am all too familiar with the feeling of seeing new old photographs of relatives. Being online with the genealogy community has given me so many opportunities to communicate with relatives that I had no idea existed. They all are similar minded and very open to sharing what they have. There have been instances where I have met long-lost cousins with photographs in hand and others that have emailed me diary transcripts from the mid to late 1800’s.
In the past few months, with online connections, I have seen photographs of my father as a baby and my grandparents that I have never seen before. It’s really a wonderful experience. With this photograph arriving in the mail I was able to share that experience with a total stranger and that is something that makes searching these little treasures out worthwhile. I often wonder when I buy one of these what happened to the photograph’s family, especially when there isn’t any identifying information with or on the photo. Because of the time period of my collection we are going back a few generations and in my mind I know that someone’s estate was cleared out and things put up for auction. Either there were no family members left, they didn’t realize what was in the auctioned items or they didn’t care. Sad.
I have been the “keeper” of family photographs forever. Someone’s household is cleaned out the photographs come to me. I scan them, put them in chronological order and file the originals away. I currently have thousands of photographs from all branches of my family as well as Bill’s. The beauty of this is in the sharing. Being able to show other family members the photographs they have never seen. Sharing is a little gift on my part but very often it seems like a big gift to the receiver. I know, being on the receiving end is wonderful.
Posting will be a bit sporadic for another couple of weeks. I will be packing up all those photographs and moving them to Rowe (hopefully their final home). No small feat because moving them can be a real distraction. I have to just move them and not look at them until I have time. I expect regular postings to resume once I’m there. Send positive thoughts for a smooth transition!
I’ve just come from a reunion of sorts, of living and dead. Rowe’s oldest resident passed away earlier in the week and I went to her simple service to pay my respects and offer what comfort I could to those she’d left behind.
Her gravesite is at the far rear corner of the cemetery and I walked past the graves of people who have been a part of my life in one way or another. Headstone by headstone I read the names. By the time I reached the service site I was thinking, “Wow, I know everyone here”.
The weather was beautiful, the service poignant. She will be missed, not only by her family but by the townspeople, we all had our stories.
These are the occasions where I really feel my age – I don’t feel older but figure I must be because everyone around me has aged considerably. I visited with someone who was once my neighbor, we figured it’s been over 35 years since we had talked to one another. During our conversation we talked about growing up in a small town and how we carry all these people around with us for a lifetime. They are stopped in time until we meet face to face only to have to come to terms with our own aging and mortality. Kids are grown and have gone to begin their own lives and families – in our minds they are forever 6 years old.
The other amazing thing is the ease with which we converse with those we have not seen in years, like it’s only been a few months, at most a couple of years. We talked about the foundation we were given in childhood that has allowed us to have respect for ourselves and for others. How we grew up knowing that we could always count on our neighbors for a helping hand in an emergency. We grew up with community.
Jim was there with his grandson – he had dug her grave. I think Jim has buried everyone I know that has passed away in Rowe. He is a kind, hard working, respectful man. Seeing his grandson with him gave me comfort in knowing that he is grooming another generation in the way he has always done business. It will not be lost.
Spending time after the service at her house reminiscing with her family I realized how we all pass on our little gifts. We ate food from her recipes, talked of dogs long gone and settled into the hospitality that her daughters and grandchildren had inherited from her. They are probably unaware at how much they are their mother, I don’t think we ever see that in ourselves. It’s good for those of us saying goodbye to one generation to see them in their children.