Friday, August 28, 2015

The Two Mothers at Patrick's Wedding



This blog contains a lot of intensely personal stuff, so if you're not up for that this morning, or if you're tired of my sharing this sort of thing with you, by all means go on to whatever is next on your schedule, no hard feelings.  In my currently quiet existence, you've all become my society, and it's your own fault that your easy affection and your total acceptance of all who venture here has made it easy to spill my guts.

Patrick is our middle child, our second son.  At 51, he's gorgeous, sweet, stubborn, and charming, and has finally found the love of his life.  (The reason it's taken so long is the stuff of romance-novel-hero back story, but not mine to tell.  This comes from my perspective as his mom.) He and Jeane (say, Gina) were married last Saturday in their backyard, a woodsy setting in Oregon's Coast Range.  But what was even more beautiful than the setting was the love Ron and I found there.

We've adored Jeane for years, so love from her was no surprise, but what happened at the wedding is that sweet, full-circle thing we hope we'll all come to but can't be sure about.

But, before I get to that . . .

You all know we adopted our three children as a family because their parents had had a difficult situation neither could deal with at the time.  I don't know the details, just that they were good people caught in a bind.  Anyway, Ron and I built our lives with the children and told them over and over (as the books on adoption advise) that their parents gave them up because they loved them and wanted them to have a better life than they could provide.  When our daughter, Kathy, the youngest, was married and planning a family, she told us she wanted to look for her biological family because their health history could be important to her children's future.  Made good sense to me.  So we started a search with what we knew about them.  This was 1988, just before you could find anything and everything with the right Google search.

We were blocked in every direction until Kathy found a website called Seekers of the Lost.  It had a database of 2,000,000 names - really new online at that time.   Within days, she'd found their biological father, who was still in touch with his ex-sister-in-law, who put them in touch with their mother.

Everyone was excited, including Ron and me.  Eventually, we were introduced to their father when he came to Astoria to visit.  The kids went to Washington state to meet their mother, whom we eventually met when she came here to visit.  They were clearly lovely people, and who knows what any of us would do with our backs against the wall and no one to turn to.

Anyway, over the years, I know they've visited often. I've never asked questions and they haven't shared too much.

So, Patrick called about six weeks ago, telling me his natural mother was in the area and he thought he should invite her to the wedding, but wouldn't if it would in any way offend us.  I assured him it absolutely would not.

Honestly, I'm trying hard not to come off as the virtuous woman who is selfless and noble.  The truth is that motherhood was so much harder for me than I'd expected, and as I recall, I was often testy and my voice was several decibels higher than it should have been.  To dilute the guilt I feel about that, I'm determined to make future family gatherings as harmonic as possible.  I want the kids to know that both their families love them and are fine with each other.

I spotted their other mother before the wedding began and headed toward her.  She saw me and by the time we met in the middle, we both had our arms open.  She said how much she appreciated our willingness to share.  My only proprietary message was that I was happy to share - I wouldn't relinquish anything - but the  children she'd give birth to were remarkable and I was happy to share.  She hugged me again.

With the casual nature of the wedding, the bride and her father were the only ones who walked down the aisle - a path made with tall alder branches decorated with mason jars filled with wild flowers.  It was beautiful.  When the ceremony was over, Jeane went to embrace her mother and step-father, and Pat came to wrap his arms around us.  Then he turned to embrace his biological mother and she burst into tears.  I was so proud and pleased.

When champagne was poured, Gina's step-father made the dearest toast to his wife and Jeane's father, stepping out of the middle to congratulate them on the beautiful daughter they'd made and how she'd enriched all our lives.  Her family were just the kind of people you hope your kids will connect with to swell the ranks of your own.

Everyone was touchingly attentive to Ron, who would have had a terrible time in his walker negotiation the beautiful hillside.  It was uneven grounds with roots sticking up and brambles to catch your feet.  But Mike (our oldest), Pat, Gary (our son-in-law) and Sean, the bride's daughter's boyfriend (are you still with me?) literally carried him and his walker up and down and back and forth.  He first apologized for presenting such a problem, and when they assured him they considered it part of their fitness programs, he just relaxed and enjoyed it, thinking of them as his personal sedan chair.

We have been intoxicated by the whole experience ever since.

This life lesson was about how freeing it is to love without caution, without fear that if you open up, you'll lose something.  Nine times out of ten, you don't.  You just find more to embrace. The kids' natural mother could have resented us, been suspicious of us, or simply disliked us because we had what had once been rightfully hers.  But she didn't.  She embraced us.  Now we all have everything.


35 comments:

  1. This is beautiful, Muriel. Congratulations on the wonderful, accepting children you and your husband raised in place of their birth parents.

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    1. Thank you, Patricia. There were times we thought to ourselves, "What have we done?" and then, mercifully, the kids grew up and it all came together. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  2. What a beautiful, heartwarming story. Thanks for sharing it. Loving without caution or fear is good advice. When we do that we surely free up our hearts to receive more joy in our lives. Sounds to me like your experiences would make a very interesting Heartwarming book.....hint, hint. ( :

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    1. Thank you, Laurie. I have to figure out how to fictionalize some of this - when you're so close, it's hard to get distance to see the possibilities. Happy weekend!

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  3. I could't say it better than Laurie did in the above comment.

    Thank you for sharing this very touching story with us, Muriel. I wish Patrick and Jeane much love, health and happiness for their life together!

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    1. Thanks, Kate. I have a great photo of them getting ready for the wedding - he's dressed and she's still in her jammies. Just learned to download them to the computer, but wasn't sure how to get them here. Next time, you won't have to look at my face, but will have photos to look at! Have a great weekend.

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    2. I like looking at you happy face!!

      Since I have admin privileges, just send me a quick e-mail Muriel, and I will insert the pictures for you! :-D

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  4. Muriel, no wonder you’re a novelist. I enjoy all your exploits and the wedding, the loving, and the mixing of families sounds perfect. I particularly enjoyed your blog today because it’s so upbeat. I’m on the opposite spectrum with my family and have to escape into my writing, so I don’t have to deal with their constant anger and fighting. Thanks for starting my morning on a positive note.

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  5. Oh, Marion, I'm sorry. I'll add you to my prayer list. Don't know why people have to be that way - especially family - but you've got us, and you know you'll get comfort and support here anytime. Happy weekend.

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  6. Muriel, I had to grab a tissue while reading this. A beautiful experience beautifully told. I agree with everyone that I'd love it if you turned this into a HW book. I think so many would identify with or learn from your life and values. You're an extraordinary person with an extraordinary heart (even if you raised your voice a few times LOL...haven't we all as mom?;).

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    1. Thank you, Rula! I'm surrounded by wonderful people, and I think my children did turn out to be extraordinary. Blessings abound in my life and that makes it easy to love generously. And this group of HW authors sets such a great example. Happy Weekend.

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  7. I'll probably come back and read this a dozen times. You are one beautiful lady.

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    1. Hugging you, Pam. Til San Diego! Have a great weekend.

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    2. Hugging you, Pam. Til San Diego! Have a great weekend.

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  8. What a beautiful post and message. Giving our love will only reward us, too, as it did during this beautiful wedding day. I'm so inspired by you, Muriel! You are an incredible example of what a parent should be and your children are still learning from your example.

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    1. You wouldn't have considered me an example in the middle of it all - I think I've said before that only Catholic guilt stopped me from running away. But perseverance has a way of smoothing things out and - finally! - producing a result we can be proud of. I wish you could have all been at the wedding with me. You'd have loved it. Happy weekend!

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  9. I really needed this beautiful story today. Thanks, Muriel. You are truly blessed with wonderful people in your life.

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    1. I am, Mel. And many of them are right here on this blog. Glad I was here with something you needed. If you need me to beat anybody up for you, I'm here.
      Have a good weekend!

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  10. What a wonderful happy ending, or should I say beginning? Such a lovely story.

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  11. Thanks, Beth. Happy Ending for us (thought I hope, not yet!) and a wonderful beginning for Pat and Jeane. Are you a reader, Beth, or a writer? I read your comments all the time, but don't think you were ever introduced to us? Or did I miss it?

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  12. Muriel, what a beautiful post. I am so happy for your family. It reminds me of that saying "if you love something, let it go..." I can't imagine all the emotional struggles that comes with adoption but what rewarding strength and fulfilling love you've found and created for your family. The last line you wrote is simply gorgeous and sums it perfectly "now we all have everything."

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    1. Thank you, Krissie! In such cases, things can always go either way. We were blessed. I've read your comments, like Beth's, and don't know who you are. Tell us. Writer? Reader? Doesn't matter, of course, it's just great to have you here, but would love to know more about you.

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  13. Heartwarming is the best word for this story. I understand. I have two adopted children.

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    1. Hi, Shirley. Glad you get it. Hope your woven life is going well. (Your career certainly is!) Happy weekend.

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  14. Oh, my goodness, I think this is my favorite family story yet. I'm like Pam--I'm going to come back and read it again and again. And, yes, try to find a way to write it in a book. I love all the kids' names, though--don't fictionalize it TOO much. :-)

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    1. Oh, like Kate said, wish the kids our best!

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    2. Fortunately, the kids all arrived named, so we can't take credit for that. Can you see the Irish there? Michael, Patrick, and Kathleen? With a Danish father and a French Canadian mother? Their biological father was Polish and Mike was 10 when his dad gave them up. He had a unique way of combining his past and his present. When the wrestling team was introduced at the beginning of the season, Mike's jersey read, JENSKI . Amazing how the mind can help you adjust. Thanks for your kind words. Happy weekend.

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  15. Wow, Muriel...I love this post! I knew you were special, your words only reinforceed my beliefs. Sorry for the late response. I went over to my parents after work, to check on them and just returned home. Family...that's what it's all about, right? Thank you for sharing

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    1. Thanks, Jill. How nice that you check on your parents. Those gestures are so appreciated. Have a lovely weekend.

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    2. My parents are wonderful. Sorry for the typos in your beautiful post. :) You have a great weekend as well, Muriel.

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  16. Like everyone else has said, this is a beautiful post. You've shown that we have such a great capacity to love and when we give it to someone, it doesn't diminish the love we have for someone else--there's plenty to go around.

    And you're so right about this group. I belong to several writer's groups, but none are like this great bunch of writers!

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    1. You're absolutely right about our HW sisters. And about love in general. Giving just gets you more. Happy Weekend!

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  17. Beautiful story, Muriel! I think it is wonderful that you have this view on love. That's the wonderful thing about love - you don't run out. It isn't like you have to take some from one person to give it to another. There's plenty for everyone. I am so happy to hear that your family had such a lovely time together! xoxo

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  18. Thank you, Amy. It's wonderful to come to this point in your life and have everyone in harmony. They're all strong-minded people who disagree a lot (our kids are conservative and Ron and I are screaming liberals - how often does that happen?!) But down to the crunch, we mean the world to each other. Love does that.

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