"My sister and I are flying to your house in three weeks!"
In a mere twenty one days a life-long dream would come true! I would finally lay eyes on someone who looks like me, who may act like me, who may talk like me. My birth mom. I had to get ready!
In amusement, my husband watched me flitter around the kitchen chattering a million miles a minute about everything needing to get done before the visit. Flowers were planted, floors were mopped, fresh linens were purchased, dust bunnies were shooed out of obscure nooks and crannies. The list went on and on. The week before the big day, my "perfect girl syndrome" went into overdrive. Out came...The Toothbrush. Yes, I cleaned my kitchen cabinets with a toothbrush! Strangely enough, cleaning helped me relax and process the coming event. With the house in order, hair done, teeth professionally cleaned, I was ready. Bring on the visit!
Was I nervous? Yes. What would it be like to meet for the first time? Would we cry our eyes out? My dear friend, Renee*, bought me water proof mascara just in case! Would our conversations feel stilted and awkward? Cleaning, running, and tons of Hail Mary's helped calm my nerves, but some anxiety still remained as I went to pick her up at the hotel early Friday morning.
"I wouldn't miss this for the world!" said my husband as he double checked the charge on his phone, preparing for an emotional photo shoot. At nine twenty Friday morning, I knocked on birth mom's hotel door and -BAM- there she was! Shrieks of laughter rang out through the hotel, as we bear hugged, then separated to get a good look at each other, then hugged again, and laughed some more. I was surprised by her stature. She was so petite. Hugging an adult smaller than me is not something I am used to. We shared a similar body-type, though she was much smaller and in great shape from running (erg!). Without thinking, I turned to my husband and said, "Consider yourself lucky! This what you get to look forward to as we age!"
In a joyous glaze, we drove back to my house for brunch. After my special frittata and a home tour, we settled on the back porch with coffee and told our stories. Mom and her sister said my investigative skills were so good that the CIA should hire me. Aunt Karol*, the one who took care of mom and me during the last months of pregnancy, kept her compassionate,wise-old-owl-like eyes on me the entire time, which felt like she was peering right into my soul. Next, mom told her story of The Pizza Line phone call! Later, Aunt Karol told the story of mom living in her attic and the adoption process. Over the weekend, I would finally learn about my earliest days on the planet and how I came to be placed with my incredible adoptive parents. In my opinion, the story is a total miracle.
Apparently, Aunt Karol worked for Catholic Charities before her own children were born. Turns out her boss, Corneille,* grew up with my adopted Dad, so they knew each other very well. Additionally, unbeknownst to me, my adoptive mom was Cornielle's secretary at one time. So, when, my birth mom faced this pregnancy, Aunt Karol sprang into action, reaching out to Corneille for help. Aunt Karol and Corneille were close, so she knew that Corneille would take great care of her sister's baby, placing the baby (me) with people she knew and respected personally- my Mom and Dad! Months later, when I shared this story, my adopted Dad said, "Wow, Aunt Karol is like a miracle worker!"
Aunt Karol and Mom were so cute the whole weekend. Aunt Karol would pull me aside and tell me little bits of information when mom was in the other room. Randomly, she'd sidle up next to me for a little hug and "tushie pat." We were tight. The tushie pat proved it! Mom and I did have a bit of nervous energy so we stayed busy by walking the dog, running, prepping food, and my favorite, looking over old family photos. A bit of relaxation came when the children were done with school.
The three of us drove to pick up my kids from school after a lovely run along the greenway. The kids didn't know all of us were coming and I'm sure they didn't expect to see us in our running clothes. How would they react? Over the previous months, my red-headed son had grown annoyed with the search, as my face was constantly in front of the computer. My twelve year old daughter pretended to "get it," but I wasn't convinced. Now, they would meet their birth grandmother for the first time at school. My daughter was sweet as ever, demurely greeting us and quietly walking us to my son's classroom. My son's reaction upon seeing all of us took me totally by surprise.
It was as if a light bulb went on. He "got it"... in a big way. Suddenly, this woman I had talked about for so many months was real and standing right in front of him. My Mom. His grandma. Forty-five minutes later, he finished touring her around his classroom, showing her his portfolio of work. They were tight. Her attentiveness proved it. Surely, he saw himself in her, as they looked so much alike standing side by side. Finally, we knew where he got his red hair. Conner* didn't stop showing off for Nana the entire weekend. He took her to the skate park to demonstrate his skills only to be shown up by Nana's prowess on the scooter. Later that night, he created a nightclub, dance party scene in the living room. For the first time, I saw Conner break dance and do The Worm. Who was this kid? My husband and I have never seen him this animated for anyone...ever. But, the real shock came when Nana did the dance for "Gangnum Style!" Conner's jaw dropped in utter awe! This was his kind of grandma!
The weekend came to a close much too quickly, but I knew our relationship was on the right path. I'll never forget dropping Mom and Aunt Karol off at the hotel, when mom turned and said,
See you soon, honey. I love you!"