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Friday, November 21, 2008

Dad

Dad,

Thank you for the birthday card and the check. I used the money while on a short trip out to see my first born son. I needed the cash for travel and didn't have time to go to the bank. However, I am going to send the same amount to a young single mother who I know could use a bit of extra cash.

You must be settled into your winter home by now. Just before you left, we met for a supper and I asked you if you were going to arrive in time to practice for your choir's Christmas concert.
You said that the spring concert is the most important and that it didn't matter to you so much if you were in town for all of the Christmas concert rehearsals.

I am proud of you. You are in your seventies and still singing. You sing with a choir in your winter home and I am so proud that you still use your voice simply because it brings you joy. And I am proud that it is a part of you.

When I was a girl, one of the most beautiful memories I have is standing next to you in church and being able to hear your singing voice, especially at Easter time. There are some Easter hymns that can flash me right back into a pew of our church.

Mom sang, too. And she played piano. The music comes from you both, you know. All five of my sons sing. Some have more musical inclination than others; but all are artists. A couple of them bury it all down within themselves or only allow it to be channeled out in a way that they feel in control of "it."

That intangible "it". The "it" that is the music; the talent, the charisma. That performance gene.

Do you ever think of the son I lost? You never speak of him. I have some empathy for you. I can try to imagine how horrible it would be to be closer to the end of your life than to the beginning and realize that one of your grandchildren, the firstborn of your firstborn, was legally severed and physically torn apart from your family.

You lost horribly. My son lost horribly. He needed to be with you. You needed to be with him.

Do you know that his grandfather, whom he loves dearly, shares the same exact name as him? Yet, my son, the musician, told me that his grandfather does not much enjoy music.

Are you not at least a little bit horrified to hear that?

Yes, I am angry still with you for your part in the loss of my son to adoption. So very angry, at times. I try to forgive you and sometimes I think I have forgiven, until I come further out of the denial and realize another consequence of my son's surrender and adoption; only to be slapped back into the pain and anger.

I try to imagine what you were thinking when he was born. Just this morning, I was thinking that maybe the surrender happened, in part, because you and mom were born just after the depression and that you grew up with parents who were still reeling from it. And I know you lost your mom when you were only 16. I am so sorry. And I can only imagine how that affected you. You helped raise your baby brother and then enrolled in college for one year until you went into the service. And that was the end of your college career.

So, there I was a sophomore in college when my son was born; seeming to repeat your pattern.
And I was the first on both sides of the family to who might graduate from college. Raising my son did not fit into those plans, did they? Surrender and adoption were the plans that would get me back on the track that you had in mind for me.

Why wasn't raising my son and keeping him in our family acceptable to you? Did you not like yourself enough for me to be like you?

Why didn't you trust me to raise my son and eventually finish my degree? With your support and temporary financial help, I could have done both. You and mom were not struggling financially and even if you had been, money or lack of it should not be reason for life long loss of a child from any family.

I got the degree. Two in fact, Dad, but I would exchange them both in a heartbeat to have had the priviledge of raising my son.

Do you remember the fall after my son was born? He was 5 months old at the time and 4 months gone from our family. We had really no idea if he was dead or alive. Does that thought not horrify you?

You drove me back to college for the start of my junior year. I had rented an off campus apartment that fall which was located way out on a country road. You stopped at the store and bought me a bike for getting to and from campus.

I think now that the return trip to campus and the bicycle purchase must have made you feel "as if" your daughter had been transformed back to her premotherhood state. In your mind, was that drive back to Wisconsin a form of time travel? A "do over" for me? There are no "do overs", Dad. Only illusions of them.

I know that I can't travel back and get my baby. So many years have been lost. My son and I are reunited and his existence and knowing him are pure joy for me. I am able to separate the relationship that we have now from all the lost time. However, our relationship is mounted upon a longterm separation and at times the pain of that separation is horrendous.

I am sorry for you that you do not know him. When I was with him a few weeks ago, I saw so many of your mannerisms and heard the inflection of your voice in his. Why should I be surprised? He is your grandson.

November is both joyous and melancholy for me, Dad. In November of 2001, I saw my son's face, again, for the first time in over 25 years. That was the sweetest and most joyous day of my life. November also brings memories of that first fall without my son. I remember walking by the fields to and from campus. Only in those quiet moments alone, could I allow myself to really think of my son. Emotionally, I was was in a state of shock and physically was just going through the motions of being a student.

I do remember hearing the music while walking along the road. I couldn't bear to feel the vibrations of the grief inside my heart and body. The only sad vibrations I was able to feel were outside of me and all around me in the fields. I heard the wind strumming of the dry rows of corn stalks like guitar strings. And the only singing I heard was the despairing hum of the wind's voice weaving itself through the dark branches of the solitary oaks at the edge of the road.

When you sing in the spring, I hope you remember him. His birthday is in the spring and only couple of weeks before yours. Do you remember his birthday?

Me.

5 Comments:

  • At 5:28 AM , Anonymous KimKim said...

    I forgot how amazing this blog is.

     
  • At 9:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hi, KimKim. Thank you for saying that.

    Dbannie

     
  • At 10:12 PM , Blogger Third Mom said...

    Oh, my, I haven't visited in a long time, and what I have missed! This is beautiful, as is everything you write. I'm so glad I stopped by.

    Wishing you the very best this new year!

     
  • At 10:47 AM , Blogger dbannie said...

    Thank you, Third Mom.
    Happy New Year, to you, too.

     
  • At 3:19 AM , Blogger Being Me said...

    Hi Dbannie,
    I haven't visited in a looonnngggg time either. I'm glad I did.

     

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