I had left phone messages, sent handwritten letters & cards, and still hadn’t heard anything back from her. For the first few months I wasn’t concerned. With the exception of a brief time shortly after we met, she’s always been inconsistent in getting back to me, and is a complete Luddite when it comes to anything beyond phone or cards. It’s frustrating, but something I’ve learned to tolerate. It’s just who she is, and I don’t have much of a choice but to accept it.
I had spent 25 years of my life searching for my Birth Mother, not knowing if she was even alive, and with each year that passed growing more anxious. I would vividly imagine the first time we met only being able to lay flowers on her grave – so this, this was small.
Only a couple years before there were times she would call me out of the blue, just to check in, say hi – and eventually would always return a phone message. My first birthday after we had met, she sent five cards, each addressed & in their own envelope, and even though the frequency of our communication got less & less after that, she never failed to at least send a beautiful card for my birthday. In these she would fill me in on the latest in her life, and it was always the same thing. She worked in a hospital lab, came home, watched TV for a bit before bed, & on Sundays, usually went to a local restaurant, a place called Lauren’s in Boonville. She frequently closed the notes saying “I need to get a life!” Helpless to do anything about it, reading that always hurt.
It had been months since I’d heard anything from her. When my birthday came & went without a card, I started to get worried. The messages I left & cards I sent increasingly got more desperate, eventually flat out asking if she wanted me in her life anymore. Maybe this was all a mistake. Maybe she decided that she didn’t want to be reminded of that time in her life, being shipped from Colorado to San Diego to have me, away from the humiliation that a pregnant & unwed child would have brought to her family in the ‘60’s. Maybe… hell, I didn’t know what to think. I was terrified that after over half my life searching for & finding my Mother, I had again lost her.
Still no reply.
All I had were letters and phone messages to send, and nothing came of those. I thought about taking the train up there, but the station was much too far away. Bus, same thing. If she didn’t want me in her life anymore, I could somehow learn to live with that – but I needed to hear it from HER, I needed to know why before I could begin to accept it, to heal as well as I could. With each day that passed, each letter or card that went unanswered, my heart collapsed a little more. Did she leave me again? What’s wrong with me, why can’t I fix it, why can’t I see it? What did I do wrong this time? I just needed to know. I needed answers. Maybe with answers I could work on what’s wrong with me.
I had been journaling, trying to make sense of it. I posted some of what I wrote just to get it away from my mind, and people were nice, reached out in words of concern. They were appreciated, but words didn’t help anything.
Then, on one of my posts, a friend offered a ride. I figured it was a nice gesture, but more than likely wouldn’t happen. People say a lot of things, promise the world, but at the end of the day, seldom come through. I didn’t let myself get excited, but figured I’d at least play along.
If this happened, he would have to drive down from Sacramento, pick me up, and then drive the 2.5 hours to my Mother’s house so we could catch her after she got home from work at around 5:30 – then after surprising her by knocking on her door and figuring out what the HELL was going on, would have to do the whole trip back to Sac. I saw how absurd that was, and although I needed answers, him doing this – for *me* – was just ridiculous, and far too much to ask or hope for. It was constantly on my mind to cancel just for his sake – but Kitty never faltered, never gave a hint of reluctance. It was going to be more than a 400 mile round trip for him, and all he wanted was for me to get the answers I needed from my mother. He also said he liked the idea of “sand-bagging” her for answers, and even if it was a last-stand, at least what needed to be done could be done.
When he showed up at my door that Saturday after our planning, I decided that maybe it was time for me to accept that he was serious. This was happening.
With all the apprehension and anxiety I put myself through, it turned out to be surprisingly unapocalyptic. As I walked up to her door I could see her through the large living-room window, sitting in her chair & watching TV. I watch her as she walks over to the door, unable to see me yet.
“Ohhh, HI, Casey! What a surprise!”
She motions for me to come in.
“What the hell is going on? Have you gotten my letters? Messages?”
“Yes, I’m so sorry…”
“But you didn’t even take a minute to answer them? ANY of them? Not one?”
“I meant to, but…”
“But what, you couldn’t be bothered? Do you have the slightest idea what I’ve been going through? I think I made it pretty fucking clear in the letters.”
“I know, I kept meaning to, but it just got harder as time went on and…”
Looking at my Mother’s face, seeing *my* face in hers & seeing the regret and apology, the anger starts to subside but I’m not letting her off that easy. I still don’t know what I need to know.
“DO you want me in your life anymore? If not, I need to know why – what I’ve done or if it’s just your trip, if this is too much for you, do you still want me?”
“Of course I do. I’m so sorry, I… I’m just bad at it, bad at staying in contact. I promise I’ll try to get better Casey, I *do* love you and want you in my life, and I’m sorry I put you through that, I didn’t mean to…”
We’re both sitting now, the anger & dread nearly all washed from me, and I’m explaining to her like she’s a three year old what it did to me, what she did, how she made me feel. I know she understands, but I don’t want her to forget. I don’t want her to take this lightly, and especially don’t want her to ever do it again. Hoping I got my point across well enough, the conversation moves into seeing how she’s doing, how the hips that have both recently been replaced are feeling, and knowing Kitty & I need to get back on the road soon. I go outside & invite him in, and shortly after we’re back on the road, leaving my Mother to her grey, empty life & TV.
As we walk the short distance to his car I turn to see her sitting again, and vow to myself that somehow, I’ll figure out a way to get a car, get up here at least a couple times a month to either take her on small adventures or just stay the weekend and help her clean up the weeds in her back yard. I think of planting a garden for her, how nice that would be. She’s mentioned that she would really like to get a dog someday. So many things I could do for her, if only I could get up here.
What Kitty did for me that day, I will never forget.
I do what I can for people to try and help, but it’s frustrating being so limited. I can only do small things: take dog food down to the homeless kids & their dogs around Civic Center, give a few dollars here & there when I have it, drape coats that I don’t wear anymore over people trying to sleep on cold San Francisco nights – but it’s never enough. I know there is so much more I could do – but it requires a car. There’s no way around it.
That was a year and seven months ago. I haven’t been able to get up and see my Mother since.
A few months ago she ordered somey jewelry from me, and I still haven’t seen them on her. Small things like that…
On September 5th is my 50th birthday, and right now my greatest dream is to be able to go pick My Mother up and bring her back down to the City so I can spend it with her. Have a small gathering of friends so they can finally meet her, this beautiful and amazing woman, and she could meet them – get out of her house and finally enjoy life a little bit. She deserves to.
I have a campaign on GoFundMe to help me get a car, which would not only allow me to get a little adventure and excitement into my mother’s life but help me get to shows & events to vend my jewelry & grow my business – as well increase the quality of my life in every way I can imagine. I could help so many more people…
If you can, please donate to it, share it to your friends on Facebook, Twitter, emails, and anywhere you can think of. Click on the link below, and please – give what you can. I would appreciate it with all my heart – and if, with your help, I am able to get a car – if you ever need a ride somewhere, *anywhere* – you got it.