A Mother’s Loss: Part 1
My family structure is unconventional, to say the least. My father had 7 children by 5 different women. He and my mother were never married and already split up by the time I came in to the picture. I am the only child of their brief affair. My mother wanted to give me up for adoption when I was born but my father put the kibosh on that. Instead, he raised me (with the sometime help of my older half-sister’s mom) in his home. My mom would visit me from time to time and when I was about 3 years old she decided that I should live with her. One day she basically kidnapped me from my daycare and took me home with her. When my dad wanted me back there was a small scandal and a big custody battle that was written about in the local newspaper because my parents were interracial and my maternal grandfather was a city alderman. My mother won custody of me but I continued to see my father regularly.
My mother has never been an open book when it came to her history. Some families constantly reminisce about the past: not mine. I rarely ever heard my mother speak of her childhood or her adult life before me. It wasn’t until the one day I happened upon the article from the newspaper about the custody hearing that I learned I was not my mother’s only child. The article said my mother had two other children before me that she had given up for adoption. I was shocked and confused by this news, yet I never confronted my mother about it. I guess I figured, at my young age, that she had kept this information from me for a reason and I needed to honor that.
Some years ago my mother told me that she received a telephone call from the oldest child she had given up for adoption. I don’t remember how the subject came up but I am pretty sure this was the first time she had ever mentioned having another child. She said this child, her son, who still had her last name, rang her up because he wanted to know more about his past and why she had given him up for adoption. They spoke at length and had a pleasant conversation. He said he’d been raised in a happy foster home but was never adopted. He didn’t give her his telephone number or say he wanted to meet her. Apparently that single conversation was all he (they?) needed: he never contacted her again.
Last night my mom tells me that the police showed up at her door at 5 AM a few days before. The police asked her if she knew this man with her same last name. She said yes, it was the son she had given up for adoption and spoken to only once. The police said they had bad news: her son was found dead. He lived alone in a rooming house. He was 48 years old. The police contacted the only person listed in his mobile phone address book: my mother.
To be continued. . .