October, 2012

October, 2012
October 2012

Friday, July 15, 2011

Just Write D-U-M-B Across My Forehead

Today was a day that Ashley and I had planned for and coordinated for a couple of weeks. Well....ok....I had been doing most of the planning because I am a Type A and Ashley had been letting me because she is definitely not a Type A.  At any rate, Ashley moved into her first "all by herself" apartment today and I of course was there to help her.  We had already had a huge shopping trip to buy a lot of what she would need like a vacuum cleaner, new kitchen utensils and small appliances. Everything was in place....cable guy coming between 10-2, KU turned on today, and my neighbor's sons made the trip to Lexington to help with the "labor".  I even planned for my usual stop at Starbucks on the way.  

So we managed to get the first load unloaded quickly and Ashley, Will, and Mike headed across town to load up the rest of Ashley's stuff.  Ben and I stayed behind to unpack her kitchen and do some cleaning.  I was determined to have the kitchen in shape before they got back.  With Ben's help, I actually accomplished this rather quickly.  

While I was waiting, I thought I would start on the bedroom.  First on the list was to unpack a new lamp.  Here is where the trouble started.  You know, why do they put those darn unbreakable zip ties around the cords?  Frustrated, I decided to use a paring knife since Ashley did not have scissors.  Better yet, it was a brand new, just out of the box, paring knife. D-U-M-B.  D-U-M-B.  D-U-M-B.  When an paring knife slices through you index finger at the joint....it causes a lot of damage.  Mind you, I didn't feel it slice through my finger, but I had no problem seeing the blood spurt out of my finger.  

I dunked my hand in the dish water and told Ben I had a problem. 

"Wow Mom! Is that blood?"   

"Yes Ben.  See if you can find me a band-aid."  

"Where am I supposed to find a band-aid?" (smart boy...everything is in boxes)  "Gosh that is a lot of blood Mom."

"Ben, I think I have a problem.  I am going to need help."

Ben got kind of quiet.  I tried at that point to form the words to explain to him how to unlock my cell and call 911.  The words weren't coming.  I realized it wasn't going to be long before I passed out.  All I could think about though, was what would Ben do.  What if he tried to go find help and got lost?  Or worse, someone took him.  I had heard a terrible story about a little boy in New York this week who got lost then abducted and then found murdered. Geez, how do I create these messes?  

I made it to the wall across from the front door, propped it open with my foot, and sent Ben to the apartment right across from Ashley's.  I could see their door and I am sure it was quite a site when they opened it and saw Ben's little face then looked across at me.  They called 911 and stayed with me until they arrived.  By now I was laying down on the floor and Ben was sitting right next to me.  

They arrived and determined that I would need stitches and then gave me the choice of riding with them to the hospital or going to Urgent Treatment within the hour.  They were very nice.  I kept apologizing for calling them, and explained that I was worried what would happen to Ben more than myself.  They said I had made the right choice, but I still felt bad for causing the trouble.  One of the guys called Ashley for me so that she wouldn't be alarmed when she pulled in and there was a fire truck and ambulance in front of her apartment.  

In the end, I only needed  3 stitches, not the 5 or 6 originally thought.  Ben thinks they are cool. We also were able to get Ashley's apartment 90% unpacked before I headed back to Danville to pick up the girls.  Ashley now has something to really tease me about and Ben has an interesting story.  

I realized though, that I had been waiting for Ben to be "old enough" for me to explain what to do in an emergency.  That was a mistake and it is a mistake that alarms me.  The very thing I was fearing in the moment could have been a non issue if I had already taught him to use my phone and dial 911.  He knows now.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Heartbreak and Hope

Sometimes the unexpected happens.

A few weeks ago my Dad told me he had given my phone number to one of mom's former students.  He couldn't quite remember her name but he knew she had visited them, sent them cards at Christmas, and called them several times over the years. Odd, I thought that she would want to talk to me, but ok.  He said he thought she probably wanted to ask how mom was doing. 

Within a few days I discovered a message from a lady named Fern.  She explained in the message that she really wanted me to contact her and that it was really important.  She left her number.  

Honestly, something seemed strange so I put off calling her for over a week.  Then I decided I was acting childish and went ahead and returned her call.  What happened next was unexpected and heartbreaking and I know it will stay with me for a long time to come.  

The conversation started quite normally even though I could sense a nervousness in Fern's voice.  She asked about Mom's health and how long they had been living with me.  She talked about how she had visited my parents and kept up with them over the years.  Then, she asked about my brother. She called him by name and said she remembered that they had adopted him when they lived in Russell Springs.  I thought....oh no....what has he done now.  He is a destructive force, but one of Mom's former students?  I braced myself and about the time I started to say "What has he done now" out loud, the conversation totally changed gears.  Fern said she had better tell me why she had called.  She wanted to tell me her story.

Fern was the youngest of nine children and they grew up in Russell Springs, Kentucky.  They were dirt poor, but her parents had done the best they could to take care of them.  Her mother and father had both passed away young, so really Fern had taken care of herself.  When she was fourteen she was raped by a family member and as a result became pregnant.  This had happened in the spring of 1961 and she went on to explain that back then there weren't a lot of options for poor unwed mothers and so she kept the pregnancy to herself for as long as she could.  That fall she began her freshman year at Russell Springs High School.  This is where my mother came into the picture.  Somehow my mother realized Fern was pregnant.  Fern says from then on my Mom saved her.  Mom encouraged her to stay in school and helped her realize she could give the child up for adoption.  Mom introduced her to the social worker who ended up handling the adoption.  Her baby, a boy, was born in December of 1961.  I suddenly felt pain for this woman because I knew where the conversation was going next. 

Fern explained that she had kept up with my parents and my brother over the years because she felt that Eric was her son.  Now that she was getting on in years and my mother couldn't remember her anymore she wanted to talk to me about Eric.  She thought Eric was her son. 

I had a moment where I realized I could let Fern keep on thinking that Eric was her son to save her the heartache.  I also realized just as quickly how wrong that would be...even if the truth was painful.   

I stopped her story and gently explained that Eric was not hers.  He had been born in April of 1962 in Ashland, Kentucky.  I also explained to her that I had found Eric's mother several years ago and that she lives in Georgia.  Suddenly it was very quiet on the other end of the phone.  I didn't say anything.  I just waited.  

Finally she explained that the reason she had thought that Eric was hers all of these years was because after the social worker would see her at the school, she would often go to Mom's classroom to see Mom. She didn't know why at the time the social worker was visiting with my parents, but after the announcement of my brother's adoption came out, she had made the connection to her baby because of the social worker.  It had never crossed her mind that it could be mere coincidence.

My heart broke for Fern.  Can you imagine?  All these years.  I understood her story more than most would.  I also knew from conversations with my birth mother, how painful the not knowing where I was or if I was safe had been for her over the years.  Fern had spent the last 49 years following from a distance the life of a child she thought was hers.  She had taken comfort in knowing he had a good home and more secure about her choice because of that.  

I felt I had taken the wind out of her sails, but we talked for a bit longer.  In the course of that conversation I told her about my own search for my birth mother and my search for Eric's birth mother. I told her if she wanted she could send me copies of all the information she had and I would see what I could do. I explained not to put a whole lot of hope in my efforts and that while finding Eric's had been quick, my search had taken 17 years. 

I wasn't sure I would hear from her again, but a couple of days ago I got a rather large envelope in the mail from her.  Inside were copies of everything she had about her son, whose name had been Leroy, including the letter she had written to him that was added to her state record many years ago in case he ever searched for her.  There was also a very sweet note thanking me for the conversation even though it was difficult and for offering to help her. 

I am not sure what I have gotten myself into or if I will have any luck at all.  What I do know though, is that if there is the slightest chance I can help mend a stranger's broken heart, I have to try.  

We go through what we go through to help others go through what we went through.
--- Unknown