I watched helplessly as a vibrant smart intelligent woman turned into a whole different person. This was over 20 years ago. I had watched this lady my whole life read her Bible every day, do crossword puzzles ridiculously fast, and she had a great personality. She cooked some of the best breakfast. I loved how she put saltines in her coffee and claimed it took the bitter taste away. She had blondish red hair with curls that she imposed every night from rolling her hair in those foam curlers. She was tall and slender. She wore glasses that she hung on her neck with a chain. She was a modest dresser and loved wearing her socks over her pants while working in the garden. She said that would keep bugs from going up to her pants. Haha. Seemed like in a blink of an eye that all that changed. Her ALZHEIMERS was a fast progressive kind. I watched her go from praising God to cussing like a sailor. I watched her ability to read, cook, garden, and such like things diminish away. She went from being independent to being dependent. Her Bible laid now, next to a portable potty chair. Her crossword puzzle books would now be torn and thrown around the room from one of her latest fits. She was no longer kind and acted like a child. Never satisfied and turning on those who loved her most. I remember her this way…and many other ways too. It got worse the longer she went through this. I miss my Great Aunt CAMILLE. I cared for her when no one else could anymore. She impacted my life then more than I knew at the time. She kept ALZHEIMERS for many years until one day her soul was at peace. I believe God took her to be with him. I was pregnant with my first child when I said my last goodbyes to her. Someone mentioned God takes a person when replaced by another soul. I am not sure of this but it reminded me of Aunt CAMILLE. My firstborn came into the world a month after CAMILLE died. So who knows ….
The time line for this story was the teenage years of Blue, she was around 15 and still unaware of most things in her life around then. Un-expectantly, she had a visit from someone she did not recognize.
Blue was alone this particular day, as she was most days while school was out and her parents had to work. Her brother was visiting a friend. She had the whole house to herself. Times like this was very nice for her. She could walk around the house freely and enjoy playing her music as loud as she wished. Music had been her constant companion since she first discovered it. There was several different genres that she enjoyed. Frankly, almost anything out on the radio was her favorite. She knew the words to almost everything and had no qualms about singing them out loud.
Today Blue was going to organize the bathroom closet. Why? Because she wanted to , and especially since she was not made to. She enjoyed pretending that her parents house was hers and that she was in charge. Part of that imagination led her to change things up a bit. She loved changing the layout of things, because she got bored real easy. She was constantly trying to win her mother’s approval to and since organizing the bathroom closet was something she enjoyed, she was also hoping for “brownie points” from her mother, in doing it.
She turned up her music so loud she guessed the neighbors could hear it. She really did not care, music was on, the sun was shinning and she was going to play around with organizing a bathroom closet that was in diar need of being done. She went to the front door, made sure it was locked, checked the back door to, she did not want anyone coming in on her while she was at the back of the house. So, she set forth to organize that bathroom closet.
She proceeded to take out things one by one until all the shelfs in the closet were empty. Next she went into work mode by folding and sorting the towels and the wash cloths that lay in the floor. She thought she would sort them by their colors and switch things up a bit by placing a wash cloth and a towel of likeness together. She proceeded to fold the wash cloth up in the towel and set them on the shelfs, one by one. She just knew that her mother was going to love this. No more searching for a washcloth to match a towel. She thought it was rather “genius” of herself.
This went on for the next hour and when the bathroom closet was finished, she took a long look at it and was very pleased. She also could not wait till her mother saw how nice and convenient things were now in that closet. Sometimes, while she was doing little things like this she felt proud of herself and felt that she was going to make herself invaluable to her parents.
She really did not know that she should have been valuable even if she never helped out around the house. All kids should be valuable to their parents regardless of what they do or what they don’t do.
The next thing she decided to do was to get her some soup to eat because she was getting hungry. Tomato soup was her go to soup and her favorite to eat. Especially when she ate it with saltines crackers. She knew her mother would not like it anyway, if she ate something else. She turned off her music and turned on her tv. There was a show called, Bonanza”, and it was one of her favorites. Back in those days, there was not much to watch on tv and you had a pick of about three channels to watch. Kids watched cartoons on weekends and sometimes afternoons after school. No much variety but the shows had a lot more depth then. Morals were shown on almost every channel and there wasn’t any real bad to watch programs. Blue loved being able to watch movies. Her mother watched soap operas and she liked them to, but movies were her favorite.
As she was heating her soup up in a pot he heard what sounded to be a knock on the front door. She was thinking to herself that her mind was playing tricks on her. Then suddenly as if a second later, there came another knock. She went to the front windows and peered through the curtains. A car she did not recognize was out in the driveway. There was a person whom she could not really get a good look at, standing outside the front door. Blue knew her mother forbade her to open the door for anyone while her parents were not there. She also knew that she would be in big trouble if she did. Her curiosity was getting thee best of her She figured she would call her mother at her work and get further instruction on what to do. She headed to the phone when she heard the person outside say, “I am your aunt”, and she was in shock. Blue was thinking to herself on who this really was, while dialing her mother’s work number. Her mother got on the ohone and she told her that a lady who said she was her aunt was standing out front of her house. Her mother told her to go ahead and open the door and that her aunt Jean was there, she was guessing.
Blue hung up from talking to her mother, and went to the front door to open it. There in front of her stood a woman. The woman was a little taller than her, with greyish black hair. This woman was very thin, looked to be about 80 pounds. She was dressed in a fake fur coat. Immediately this woman, Blue’s aunt, gave her a big hug and said, “You must be Blue?” Blue said, “yes and who are you?” The woman replied she was her mother’s sister from Washington. Blue invited her in and told her that Blue’s mother was coming home and would arrive shortly. As she sat there she found herself staring at the woman she barely recognized. It was an awkward quietness. Blue did not know how to strike a conversation with her.
The awkward silence could have been cut by a knife it was so thick. Blue offered her aunt a drink or something and that started a conversation. Blue’s aunt asked her if she knew who she was at first. Blue said she did not recognize her at all. Then her aunt proceeded to tell Blue that she had leukemia and had lost so much weight. She said she was wanting to come and visit her sister and her family before she could no longer travel. She also said she was very sick, She informed Blue that she was 74 pounds, and that she was probably dying. Wow, that was a lot for Blue to take in at once. Blue was very sad for her aunt and could not wrap her head around this thing called Leukemia. She did not know exactly what that was.
It was hard looking at the face of someone who was potentially dying. Someone who was her aunt and she never even knew her. She was puzzled as to why she did not know all this already, and why she had not grown to know her. This was a lot to take in and Blue had so many questions she wanted to ask, but she knew she better not. Her mother made it very clear on the phone to say very little to her aunt and to mind her own business. Then Blue saw her mother coming in the door and Blue figured she would learn more about her aunt. Blue was wrong though, as soon as her mother got there she sent Blue to her room, and whatever was spoken in the living room, Blue could not ease drop on because it was like they were whispering. This was puzzling.
It was not very long after being sent to her room, that Blue heard the car start-up and then saw her aunt leaving. It was not very long, especially for someone who came from Washington state to visit. What really hurt was that her aunt was dying and she never even knew her or got to say goodbye. Blue knew that something was not right with the whole thing. It was not normal to have family come visit and them not be offered a place to stay or some time spent with the family they came to see. What in the world?
Some things like that day, stayed forever in Blue’s mind. She did not understand those types of situations. They happened more often than not.
Time does not change very much for me much when it comes to the relationships around me. Often I have tried to find some more meaning, purpose, and reason for the way things usually end up, have been, and so forth. As I get older I have been able to come to terms with very little with my manipulated, messed up family ties. See I never understood what is so wrong that it can’t be mended? What is so distorted that each of us cannot truly see? I am referring to my family, of course.
Let me lay some ground work into the background that I am trying to write about. I was adopted as an infant. I was not given to strangers but to my biological father’s sister. The circumstances behind and leading to this is one of those distorted, crooked, manipulated things I mentioned before. I wish I could go back in time and really get the low down on what happened during that time period, but for the sake of not hurting everyone’s feeling in my family, I will let that part go. I was raised in the home of my bio Aunt and her husband, my older ( bio cousin) sister, and my (bio cousin) brother. I know, it gets confusing. Easiest way to explain is my Aunt adopted me.
I remember bringing up the questions to my adopted mother, about where did I come from. I also remember that every time I did that, she would not take it very well. For the longest time I kept my questions very limited. I would refrain from them because I saw the way she looked at me and acted. I did not ever want her to think I was not grateful for her love, or that I wanted to go live with the “unknown” family. I remember many times as a teenager I was torn as to my own feelings of “something missing” and the fact that here I had this family I had been reared in and I frankly had such a battle that it near darn drove me insane. I felt so torn that I felt isolated and a burden to the family I now had. I also felt like no matter how much they said they loved me, they were not completely honest about that. I felt like little orphan Annie, no kidding. I know that sounds weird, after all I was not orphaned and lived with a family , doing the “family” thing.
I guess no one will ever understand the torment I felt. I wanted to know who I walked like, who I talked like, whose eyes I had, etc. I was in a position where my motives and questions were examined and meant to mean I was not happy where I was and that I wanted to go live with my biological family. That was not the reasons behind my curiosity, but I never could help the family I was living with to understand that. To them it was betrayal. It was not normal. In a way I understand their position that maybe it would mean those dreadful things, like I did not love them, want them, or like living with them, but then again, what did they think when adopting me? Did they honestly think I could be part of a family , that I never saw and was not allowed to be around, and not want to know? I was kept from certain family members because there was a conflict there, somewhere in the family line that said if I was adopted into another part of the family, then the old parts of the family were not to be around me, Say what! I know, is that not crazy messed up? So much between the lines, like I have stated.
So here I am this predicament and no one will tell me anything more than tidbits, pieces, and most certainly their own versions of the story behind my adoption. Now I am a teenager that is confused, hurt, and misplaced. I really think that bothered more than my own mother letting me be adopted out. The fact that I could never be around the connecting family members to my adoption, and the fact that the biological family, I did not get to know. Bad enough was that but I never saw one picture. All the pictures of things were hidden from me as well. I was clueless as to the vast enormity of the concealment to keep me in the dark. It was and still remains not right. I deserved to know things like any other kid who gets adopted. Especially since it was my own family line that adopted me.
Little by little these types of relationships, etc. affected me and still do today. I often think back to the many years that I could had of had a peaceful heart. Many times, many missed opportunities to actually feel a part of something. When a person is kept from those that are a part of them, they begin to change, to feel there is nothing more for their life. I struggle with “forever” in aspects of my life. Sometimes feeling so isolated and left out of the whole family. I see those around me that have experienced years of togetherness and I long for that.
My immediate family consists of three kids, a husband, and 3 grandkids. I have a cousin who was in my life before and after adoption, for whom I cherish. She has shown me that no matter what I was kept from when I was young, does not have to dictate my today and what I can have now. She taught me to look for my blessings in the here and now. She is an encourager and she is the best. Now that I am older, I try to do what she wants me to do and I try to hold onto the people, family, etc. I now have and the ones that want to be in my life.
Life is what we make of it. Our past does not define our future. Sure we carry lots of things around with us, like my search for love, belonging, purpose, etc. There is no doubt though, that life is what you take from and re-arrange some, and dispose of. It is the good times the bad times, the in between times and the knowledge you gain. Live your life with those you love around you, never stop questioning things, don’t stop believing and hoping in things.