Please sign my Guestbook.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day (Part II)


This is my birth mother, Marge.

I thought of her as my exotic cousin from San Francisco until I was 17.

She sent the most wonderful presents but never visited. My folks were afraid first to tell me about the adoption and then to tell me the circumstances. Very different times and what is considered almost routine today was anything but then.

Ingrid Bergman was barred from this country for almost the same crime (plus adultery of course). Unmarried and pregnant? Covered up at all costs. I blamed them until I grew up enough to know they were trying to protect me. We've long since made our peace.

I finally met her when I came out here the first time in 1958. I was 20 and she was the most exciting person I'd ever met. She had an office job, she was married to a black man, she'd lived almost everywhere and done everything.

She and Henry introduced me to so many things; especially San Francisco with its beauty and their friends, flaming liberals all and most in mixed marriages. I was already on that track and I embraced all their causes as my own.

She was a wonderful person in many ways and I'm always surprised at how much I'm like her. Definitely nature, not nurture in some respects. (Although my folks by no means were hatefilled bigots - they weren't radicals manning the picket lines either). Marge worked for a Socialist paper in the forties, may or may not have been a Communist for a while. She was certainly a fellow traveler until she realized their ultimate purpose. She let go of them quickly but kept her ideals. She and Henry were together for years but stubbornly waited for the law to change in CA before they married. She wouldn't sneak around.

Marge was a gourmet cook when she wanted to be, not too interested in housekeeping, and may have been bi-polar. I adored her (when I was speaking to her - I think we were too much alike). Her mood swings could be frightening.

I will always love her. We lost her to cancer several years ago but I'd lost her before that. I said I wouldn't be negative but she was an alcoholic who never admitted she had a problem and who bitterly resented my recovery. She was angry every time I visited, she wanted a drinking buddy, and finally I put some distance between us. I did offer to care for her when she became ill but she wasn't interested and I said a quiet thank you to whatever powers may be.

I miss the woman I first met in 1958 and am grateful to her for giving me life and then a happy, secure childhood. It was an act of unselfishness made even more difficult by remaining silent all those years. It must have hurt terribly to see the pictures and send the letters and gifts (to both me and my brother) without blurting out the truth but she never did.

Happy Mother's Day, Marge. I hope you found the peace in death that was missing in life.

30 comments:

vicki said...

Ann, this and the previous post are beautifully wrought and wonderful to read. Whenever I am here I am reminded that "family" takes so many different shapes and forms. These two posts help me get a better understanding of how you came to be the mother that you are. Happy Mother's Day!

DellaB said...

Thanks Ann .. I was feeling a little-bit sorry for myself this morning .. if I want a mothers day breakfast, I will need to do it myself (I am not the mother of the man I share a house with!) .. but your stories have prompted me to do a rethink .. I have beautiful flowers delivered yesterday from my daughter .. and behind them a story I can tell .. I will go and do that now. thankyou .. and Happy Mothers Day to all the other mothers and grans ..
Della

Gina said...

What an inspiring story, Ann. Thanks for sharing that with us.

I love reading about people and their family histories.

tina said...

You're an incredible woman, Ann. Celebrate tomorrow. You are a mother to so many, and such a selfless wonder. I stand in awe of you on a daily basis.

JBlue said...

Ann, I enjoyed both posts. What insight you have. What a life you've lived. As I said to you in an email, I begin to see the source of your exceptional wisdom and compassion.

Lavender Dawn said...

I am glad everything turned out so well for you. Walking away is hard.

JBlue said...

I love that photo of her in the scarf. That's an amazing picture.

J said...

Wow...great posts. Thank you for sharing them.

Janice said...

Hi Ann,

That was bitter sweet, and I bet hard to write as well. It's really hard to walk away from someone you love so well and are a part of. I'm glad you were able to recover and make the hard choice.

Janice~

Merle said...

Dear Ann ~~ Wow ~ Both stories amazing and both mothers amazing. You are lucky to have photos of your birth mother. I would love for mine to have a photo.
And I am atonished to learn that you know both sides of adoption. Do you ever
have contact with the daughter you gave to a family who really wanted her? No wonder you are such a great "mother" tothose girls. Happy Mother's Day Ann.
I enjoyed my hot-cakes and was happy to see that Jacqui was making your
cobbler. Loving thoughts, Merle.

Mary P. said...

These two posts were a wonderful read. You've had such a varied life, full of richness. Some people would focus on the difficulties and hard times, but while you don't deny them, you express them in terms of graciousness and lessons learned. I so admire this approach; it's how I live my lift, mostly.

Happy Mother's Day!

Expat Traveler said...

Ann - such a touching story! Wow - the things you learn in reading... Hope you have a wonderful mother's day too!

Sheri said...

Ann, those were such great posts! It always sounds as if you have had such an interesting life-but difficult, too!
Happy Mother's Day to you, too, and thanks for stopping by.

Alissa said...

It sounds like you are a lucky woman. You got to know both of the mothers in your life.

These posts are so well written, and very touching.

Anvilcloud said...

She seems so human and real. Above all, I think she did the best thing that she could by adopting you out.

Your syndication feeds seem to be working again. I was forgetting about you otherwise.

Marigoldie said...

Ann, you are an inspiration. Happy Mother's Day.

Dee said...

My story is very much like yours. I did not grow up with my biological mother but I had wonderful foster mom who raised me from the age of 9 on. I think my mom was bipolar but you know what it was like back in the fifties. She had other health problems and women like her did not get much help from anyone if they had kids to raise. My brother and I both ended up in different foster homes and luckily raised by women who cared for us and loved us like we were their own kids.

I became great friends with my mom and close to her for several years before she died in 1995 from complications from a stroke.

I do think that if my mom had been an unwed mother today, she would have been treated differently and given the help she needed by her family, something she did not get during her life time. Times are different now.

Arwen said...

APrents are so complex, bridle that with addiction and we have a world that teaches us so much (if we let...I am still working on that). Happy Mom's day, Arwen

Badoozie said...

very profound anne,
happy day to you!!

madcapmum said...

These are a couple of great posts, Ann. Well told. Mother's Day is a bit of a difficult holiday for me, and I don't know if I could be as fair as you are.

Merle said...

Hi Ann ~~ Thanks for your comments. Feel free to use any of the items I post.
I hope you had a lovely Mother's Day.
How was your Mum when you rang her?Take care, Merle.

Missy said...

Amazing. Glad to hear you perspective on it all.

Isn't it interesting how similar you probably are to her?

dongurigal said...

Granny those are two very beautiful tributes to your mothers.

Happy Mothers Day to you too.

Sothis said...

Thanks for sharing your story. The same thing happened in my father's family (at about the same time). Both of your mothers were quite strong people. Amazing to have two such as them touch your life. And thanks to you, they can now touch so many more. Thanks for the uplifting post. And Happy Mother's Day to you, too!

Jacqui said...

I've said it before Ann, you are incredible, and such an inspiration, I feel privileged to know you.
I love your ending in my comments, hugs, I would like to use it too, and am sending lots of them to you.

I'll post the answers to the # quiz soon.

Gawdessness said...

Wow. Wonderful piece.

Tom said...

So we ARE greater than the sum of our parts. Thanks for the insight.

Your mother, Marge, in profile looks like the Russian woman in the poster praising the workers in agriculture (I think that is the one, I know she wasn't the welder).

Saija said...

a wonderful memory ...

i understand the alcoholism part (my dad) ... we just have to see the spirit that the booze held back ...

blessings to you!

mo-wo said...

Ann, thank you so much for these very honest tributes. Very honest. And, for further insight into you and your own paths of introspection. You know that I tend to unfairly stereotype you ;> -- you are so kind and giving you have been known to frustrate my desire to know more about YOU. With gratitude.

Happy Mo. Day to you.

Bossy♥'s YOU said...

wonderful ann,
now i need to go read the other one..