This past week, a very special lady passed away at the young age of 59. She was the Aunt I never knew I had. Since I cannot be there for her funeral, I will tell the story about how I met her and my Uncle Tim only years ago. But to understand it, I'll have to tell you my father's story.......
During the second age, my father was born from a woman who could not keep her child. Her boyfriend ran away and she was left pregnant. Society considered this a faux pas back then and everything was quietly handled. Another couple who could not have children, wanted desperately to become parents. They went through the adoptive services and found my father. The couple loved him very much but never spoke in great detail of the adoption. And it was never an issue for the young man. But there it remained in the back of his mind for many years.
His biological mother married. However, the man she met this time around was a keeper. Together they raised a large family with many children. But the adoption was never mentioned. And it was something the woman lived with for many years. The guilt and pain of giving up her first child stayed with her for many years. For this is not something men may understand. I am told when a woman gives birth to her child, it is a bond that lasts forever.
|The son and King Tuzigoot from a recent photo shoot on Lake Michigan|
On the other side of the state, the son grew up and he, too, had a large family. Because for him, he needed to fill in a piece that was missing. He married his high school sweetheart and together they created a family of 8! At this point, his first born, me, entered the picture. The young man becomes my Dad. And we live our lives not knowing about my father's adoption. It didn't matter because my Grandparents were my Grandparents. Period. Nothing would change that fact. Until my sophomore year of high school. My mother mentioned to me that my father was adopted. I was in shock....and not because my father was adopted. I grew up thinking my parents to be rather boring people unaware that they had lived complicated and exciting lives. Ignorance was my middle name. I asked my father if he would investigate his past. And at the time, he told me perhaps down the road. I mistakenly asked my Grandparents about the adoption once during lunch and I was met with dead silence. It was horribly awkward. I only did this because my parents were very open and transparent about their feelings as were my siblings. In a large family, it's difficult to keep secrets:)
|What's better than Christmas and getting my first camera??!!! My Grandparents:)|
Years would pass. My Grandfather died and my widowed Grandmother was 90 years old. My Dad was experiencing some health issues and wanted to know what was going on. My mother told him that it was time to find the answers. And Dad began to search for the people responsible for his creation.
Elsewhere, the also recently widowed and unknown woman from the forested village of Antigo had no more children at home. They all grew up and married. She was a grandmother now. Her phone rang and she answered. The lady on the other end asked, "Is this Mrs. Lorraine Duffy?" The adoption center told her that there was a man wanting to speak with his biological mother. A week later after many tears shed between the mother and her lost son, the entire family met together and the secret was revealed. A guilt lifted and new beginnings were had. Enter Karen Duffy....the liaison of the family. The great communicator.
|An entire family reunited. Pops is to the far left|
|Here I am meeting Lorraine for the first time.|
|The special lady who helped reunite two families into one....Karen! She's on the far right.|
But stubborn me. Stubborn ol' me. I didn't want to betray my Grandmother's trust or love. I spoke with her every Sunday about gardening and other things....like her amazing recipes for cookies and dressing. And this is where the Aunt, I never knew I had, stepped in and offered me an olive branch. My Dad's biological brother Tim and his wife Karen came to Tucson. We had such a great visit that I knew I had to open my mind up to redefining family.
As time would go on, my Dad would lose his mother(my Grandma) and then his biological mother. They would have a few years together before she passed. When we were home visiting, we always went to visit Karen and Tim. They became part of the "must visit" stops. And Facebook allowed us to share pictures and our lives. Then Karen became sick. Everytime we came home she would get a little worse. My brother married and we saw her lose muscle control at his wedding. The next time she was in a wheelchair.....and then she disappeared off of Facebook. She no longer could type. Several days ago, she finally passed from her suffering. It will be a hard thing for all of our families as she was not only the "hub" or connector of the family communications, but she was also a genuine person with an amazing heart. Little do we know how much time each of us has been granted in this life.
|And spouses:) Karen is in the striped sweater. Lorraine is in front.|
|The first time we all met|