Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

31 12 2009

Hours away now from a new year and I sit here pondering resolutions, but I know fate delivered my resolutions to me over the past month and it is my duty to continue following through on the work that has already been laid out.

At 16, my mother ran away from home and I strived every day to write her for two years, hoping to convince her to come back to my father and I as she should, or at least as I felt she should.  In retrospect, I don’t know if she did us all a favour or not.  What I do know is that her actions cannot be changed and they laid the foundation for the choices in my own life.  If she had not left I would not have moved thousands of miles away from home to live with relatives and eventually meet my husband, get married, have my children and begin my own life as a mother.  I’m certain I would have set my feet on that path at some point, but would I have learned from the same experiences, had the same children, the same joys and pains?  Likely not.

As I entered motherhood I remember trying in vain to reach out to her, as a daughter becoming a mother.  It was not until after my second child was borne and my father had passed away that she finally extended her hand back to me.  And it was a timid extension.  Within a few years, I grew to trust her and try to envelop her into our lives.  She dashed that trust to pieces by running away again, this time with my children in tow.

After finally getting them back from her, I broke all contact.

That was six years ago.

Last October I began building our family tree and for some reason in December I decided to bind all of the information together into a book and send it to her as a gift.  I sat on it for days, hemming and hawing.  What can of worms would I open by sending her the book, by offering a postmark from my town as a starting point should she try to find us again, by simply just establishing contact.

Then I sent it.  I sucked in a deep breath and slid it across the counter at the post office and watched nervously as it slipped into a bin and through a door, too far gone to undo the actions.  And I then sat down in my car, hunched over the wheel and wondered to myself what the fuck I had done.

I thought about following up, it was a lot of information and should it go to the wrong place, what a mess it could create.  But if it did go to the wrong person, what could I do except worry her that the information such as her birth and parentage and SSN and so forth were out floating about in the world.  I programmed her phone number into my phone and sat staring at it.  I finally opted against calling.  If she got it, great; if she didn’t, she’d never know that her information was out there in her neighbour’s hands.

But fate, destiny, whatever one wishes to call it, called her.  Literally.  I pulled my phone from my purse to check missed calls and saw that a call had ended.  After checking, I found that my phone had pushed the quick dial some how at some point and by depressing the 7 on my phone, had rang my mother.  Had she answered?  Or had it went to voice mail?  Had it been while I was singing along to the radio, talking to my kids, or in the midst of silence?  I tried to replay in my mind my conversations of the afternoon – I hadn’t talked outloud – or had I?

With my stomach doing somersaults I decided to find out.  I pushed that 7 and let it ring.  She didn’t screen her calls like she used to – she answered on the second ring.  Should I call her Pat?  Mom?  Mama?  I fumbled and said Mama, what I had always called her as a child.  We talked, awkwardly, at least for me, for thirty minutes or more.  Yes she got the book.  What was my address; could she talk to the kids; what was I doing now?

It was overwhelming for me and I was tempted to hand up so many times.  This is the woman who abandoned me as a child and as an adult.  A woman who thought she could kidnap my children to give them a better life because I had been laid off and was a single mom.  A woman who hadn’t been a mother for the past eighteen years of my life.

I danced around most of her questions and finally told her I wasn’t sure about it all.

I want my mom in my life, for me, for my kids.  But I don’t trust her.  Which makes me question how much I love her.  Is it obligatory love?  How much can you really love someone who you don’t trust?  How many chances for trust do you owe to a person you love?

I could have dismissed this as just a simple reconnection and not a resolution worthy event, if it weren’t for other events.

I am working on my family tree, as I said, and managed to dig out of my cedar chest an old metal footlocker of my great-grandfather’s, from his time in the first world war.  In it are pictures, letters, documents and such.  I pulled it out to begin scanning old pictures and found by chance beneath the chest a letter, water stained and old.  But as soon as I saw the penmanship, I knew what it was.  I sat it aside to look at it later and when I looked at it five hours later I stared at the words, trying to recall why this letter had angered me so much ten years ago when I had first received it.

When I left my husband, I was 21.  He was a convicted pedophile, abusive, and an adulterer.  But at that time, the main thing he was was the man who had stomped on my picket fence and dreams by ruining our marriage and primarily my plans.  As he was incarcerated, he was not around to receive my verbal lashing and I vented instead to his grandmother, the woman who had raised him as her own and defended his every action.  I don’t even remember what I possibly wrote to her, but her daughter wrote me back.  And the letter she wrote me sat in my fingertips, aged and crumpled and flattened out and cursed.  But most of her words were right on.  Of course I still disagree with her thoughts of undying emotional support for the man I had married and I disagree still with her thoughts that I owed him my to death do us part.  But she was right that her mother didn’t deserve my anger and that I had the opportunity to forge my own future without regard to my husband’s actions.

Thankfully back then I never wrote her back.  If I had, lord only knows what I would have possibly written in my immaturity and haste.  So I sat down last night to write her.  And opened another door to the past.  And judging from her response, hopefully here is another relationship to mend and begin anew.

The last little blast from the past came from within that trunk.  I found the card from my children’s father’s biological mother, the woman who abandoned him at birth.  While he and I were still married I had tracked her down and tried to help him work on that relationship.  It didn’t pan out, but she was kind enough to send a card and present when she learned that her first grandchild was borne.

So I have written her a letter.  Asking merely for her family history in the interest of working on this tree.  I hope that perhaps it is a chance for another door to open; but I’ve no expectations.

And thus, there is my resolution.  My only one.  I don’t have to stand on a scale to meet it; or put down my lighter; or begin any new patterns in my daily routine.  I merely need to keep my mind open, my guard up, and set no expectations as I begin opening doors to people lost from my life.

It is a good resolution I believe.



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