Friday, October 28, 2016
We are all connected to family in some crazy way. While I was growing up I was shocked and dismayed at the fact that some of these people that we label as "FAMILY" could somehow be related to me, not by blood, but by LOVE!
My dad's side of the family was more laid back and easy going. They were never about money or high society, they focused more on family and being a family. My dad's dad, my grandfather is and was the most insightful person that any one can ever have in their lifetime. He was always the one that I loved seeing the most.
The memories I have of him will go until my death. I carry them proudly in my heart as well as my back pocket. No matter where I go, what I do, he is on my mind. He was one that taught me to dance the Waltz while I stood on his feet at seven year old. The smile he would shine down upon me with such admiration and joy was my happy place. Each time I would see him I would run into his arms and he would pick me up and spin me all around while I shouted with excitement. I would then dig into his front pocket of his button down shirt filled with excitement and anticipation wondering what sweet treat he was going to bring me this time. Sometimes it would be mints and other times it would be gum.
I used to tell people I was going to marry my grandpa during those family dinners or small get together's. I would often notice my mom rolling her eyes at my statement and then walking away not with anger but with concern on her face. I was never quite clear on what that meant and when I told many I was going to marry my grandpa no ever corrected me or told me that was an inappropriate thing to do or say.
My uncle and aunt were extended family of my dad, his brother and sister. I was always so close to my aunt Shirley. She was the one I could talk to about my adoption and how it bothered me. I could trust her to never say a word to anyone. She was the light at the top of my boat guiding me through my vast darkness and confusion. She was always so careful with her words and how she spoke to me about being adopted. She always told me how badly my parents wanted children. That was when I learned through secrecy my mom was never able to have kids.
Aunt Shirley shared with me during one of our afternoon walks and talks in her beautiful neighborhood. Homes were perfectly manicured, flowers blooming, neighbors once cared about each once upon a time. As she talked to me she shared how my mom and dad tried for five years right after they were married. My mom became so depressed with each month learning that she was not pregnant.
She continued to tell me that my mom feel into such a deep depression that often my parent fought over who's fault it was. Finally they gave in and decided to adopt. Through her chosen words I could feel my mom's pain, I could feel the love that she had for me and my brother. It made me proud to be with the family I was with.
My mom's side of the family was all about money and power. I was never close to them. Yes, I had the typically grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles, aunt, cousins but there was no grandfather to jump into his arms, there was no grandmother to sit and share my deepest secrets. My Uncle Dean owned two car lots and lived the life of luxury. His mansion sat on the top of the hills in Marina Del Rey located in California. His house had nine bedrooms and eleven bathrooms. Christmas Eve was held at his house and that meant we dressed to impress. My mom would dig out all her diamonds, my dad would dig out his best suit, and my mom would take my brother and I shopping for the best dress and suit for both of us.
It was just a very different vibe with them. No one ever reached out and hugged me or anyone else. Everyone did that Hollywood kiss, you know one, kiss one check then kiss the other check and fill each other's head with lies about how good it was to see them.
The big talk of those family gatherings with the "Stuffy People" was the talk of this one relative, they called her "The Kiss of Death" the rumor was whom ever she kissed to greet them, days later they would die. No matter the age, or who it was, when she entered the room many would shutter at the fact of greeting her. I never knew her real name because my family never told me her name. I only knew her as the lady that would kiss you and then you would die.
I remember very clearly during my earlier age. I was eleven years old when she came to my mom's house. She entered the room wearing all black. She was a puggy woman, short in size, I remember her black hair and the black dress along with black stockings and black shoes. When she smiled there was just evil in her face. My mom's side of the family greeted her with an awkward hello. But I do remember, two family members on my mom's side didn't believe in this tall tale, so my Uncle Jerry walked up and kissed her on her cheek as well as Uncle Ben. Four days later my Uncle Jerry died, then five days later my Uncle Ben died.
Then there is family that will leave you questioning if what they say is actually true. Earlier I wrote about my Uncle Don Brown. Just to clear things up, he was never my uncle. He was actually an old boyfriend of my mothers that had remained in her life as a "good friend" now I don't know about you, but I would be most uncomfortable if I had a husband that continued to be friends with an old girlfriend that he almost married and remain in my life as long as I was married.
But my Uncle Don was there every step of the way through the adoption process of my brother and myself. He used to call me "Nennie, Nennie Num, Num" and my brother he used to tell him "go fly a kite Don" I have always questioned how much he knows. I remember him telling me he was there the day my parents went to pick me up at the hospital. I remember him telling me that the moment he saw me he shared how my mom cried and my dad couldn't wait to hold me.
Many years later I called my Uncle Don, he was the "other family" I could talk to about anything. I began sharing my thoughts on searching for my birth mother. He told me it would kill my mom if I did that. I told him through tears and frustration that I just had to know. That was when he just opened up and blew me away with what he told me.
In one breath, my life had changed