Friday, June 16, 2006

THE UNEXPECTED GRANDSON

This was sent to me via A_L_I_A email. I had to post it. It is such a beautiful story. It was also suggested to bring Kleenex tissues to this story. It shows that grandparents even miss the children lost to adoption. I dedicate this to my birthfamily wherever they may be.


He had been our secret for all these years

by Norma Simpson, Beaumont, Texas

When you're my age life tends to settle down, without the surprises it once held. At 85, I had grown comfortable with my daily routine in a small lake community in southeast Texas called Toledo Bend. Getting the mail was often a highlight of my day. And that's where I was one summer afternoon a couple years ago - standing at the mailbox - when I opened a red-white-and-blue express-mail envelope and got the shock of my life.

"My name is Tony," the letter read. The writer went on to explain carefully, "I'm your grandson and I'd like to come to meet you." I turned the envelope over and checked the postmark. All the way from the East Coast. A far piece to travel for a hoax, I thought. Because it just couldn't be true. Could it?

I was thrown back in time, to 1955. My only child, Dorothy, single, in her mid 20s and living at home, had been crying for days. It just about killed me to see her brilliant blue eyes rimmed with red. Finally she said: "Mother, I'm pregnant."

"Who is the father?" I managed to ask. Dorothy told me. Later I found ut he was married. She hadn't known.

Dorothy was a bright girl, who graduated from college with a degree in journalism. She had a good job. Her father had died when she was barely out of her teens. We were as close as two people could be. We loved board games and had a closetful, passing many an evening intent on our strategies. We liked bird-watching, though Dorothy was better at recognizing the rare ones than I was. We laughed like old friends. We were more than mother and daughter; we were a team. And we decided we would raise the baby the way we did most things: together.

Being an unwed mother carried a terrible stigma in our small town.

Dorothy and I turned to the church for counseling. During many sessions with our pastor we discussed what the years had in store for my daughter. We learned of all the couples who were desperate to have a baby, but couldn't. Was it right to deprive a child of having two parents? Had we given enough thought to adoption? Gradually it became clear to both of us what was best for the baby. Dorothy went to a maternity home in Cincinnati, where she stayed until her son was born. She cared for him for 10 days, then signed the adoption papers - final and irrevocable.

She returned to me a thin, broken young woman. We never spoke of the baby again. Because Dorothy never mentioned him, neither did I. (I would have done anything to spare her further pain.) Eventually she found her calling working as a school librarian, where, she said, "You have the children but don't have to bother with discipline." She went door-to-door electioneering and got herself on the school board so she could do everything in her power to make sure the local kids got the best education possible. I suspected she was trying to fill the void in her life, but of course not even every child in the world could have done that. When Dorothy died in my arms from cancer, I felt what she must have felt, that aching sense of loss.

What I didn't know was that while Dorothy was alive she had spent years seeking information about her son. But the records had been sealed.

Now he's trying to contact me! I thought as I walked slowly up the drive from the mailbox. I put the letter back in the envelope and stuck it in a drawer. Oh, Dorothy, I thought, if you only knew . . . I didn't sleep well that night, wondering how it is that God works. Lord, your timing's all wrong, I thought. How was I to tell if Tony really was who he claimed to be? After all these years, how would I explain him to my friends and family?

Two days later in the afternoon a neighbor dropped by for a cup of tea. I was grateful for the diversion. I was trying to keep my mind on our conversation when a forceful knock on the door nearly jolted me out of my seat. Not now! I thought. It can't be him already! Heart pounding, I opened the door, more intent on the explanation I would give my neighbor than on the tall, trim, dark-haired man in the neat business suit standing there. "Hi," he said softly. "I'm Tony."

Her eyes, her brow . . . I caught myself. "Well, look who's here," I improvised as I motioned him in. "It's Dorothy's . . . friend Tony. He's flown all the way from back east." I smiled at my neighbor, searching her face for signs of suspicion.

"Any friend of Dorothy's is a friend of mine," she said, and politely excused herself so we could visit. "Have a nice time, you two." As I let her out, I wondered if I wasn't crazy. Now I was alone with a complete stranger, whether he was my grandson or not. Lord, please help me handle this.

"Won't you sit down?" I asked. We small-talked for a while before the young man told me his story. When he and his wife decided to have children, he started to look for his birth mother, in part to determine any hereditary medical problems. "But I also wanted to know more about her." With the passage of time and legislation, the records that had been closed to the mother were made available to the son. He had been stunned and saddened to learn Dorothy had died, but heartened to find out about me.

We got comfortable with each other, and then he asked me about Dorothy. No name was sweeter to my ears, no subject dearer to my heart. I began telling him abut her, though I did maintain a certain reserve. Finally, saying it was getting late, Tony left for his motel.

When I closed the door I asked myself, What am I doing? What good could possibly come of this?

Early the next morning Tony appeared at my door, juggling a pile of luggage. "I'm staying," he announced. "Who says I want you to?" I shot back with a smile, not completely sure if I was kidding or not. After all, if he were an impostor, he had the perfect scheme to find out anything he wanted to know about me. But again I found myself saying and wondering how many people in the world have Dorothy's brow and eyes.

He squeezed past me and stacked his luggage inside. Tony had a million questions, asking to see pictures of Dorothy at every age. He read her poems and essays, and letters she had written me. I had saved practically everything, of course. He seemed hungry to know every detail of Dorothy's life. In spite of myself I warmed up to the young man in front of me. I went to bed feeling more comfortable with the situation. Lord, if this is your will . . .

The following day I awoke with a start. I grabbed my robe and hustled downstairs. I heard clanking as I approached the kitchen. Tony, wearing the gaudiest pair of gym shorts I had ever seen, was puttering around, making coffee as if he belonged there. "One thing I know abut you," I said. "You're color-blind!"

Tony laughed. So did I. We laughed like old friends, and he had me, for good. I introduced my grandson to friends, neighbors, relatives, everybody I knew. No one reacted with embarrassment or disapproval. Instead, the people I care about all delighted in my good fortune.

Early that fall Tony arranged for me to fly out to visit him and his wife, who was soon to give birth. We had a fine time. Not long after I returned home Tony called. "Hey, Great-grandma!" he said, struggling for the words through his emotions. "Say hello to Louisa." I swallowed hard. A baby girl. Louisa, after Dorothy's middle name. Two months later, when Tony flew to Texas with my great-grandbaby, I almost burst with pride at the sight of her.

My health began to deteriorate, and I realized I could no longer live on my own. Tony urged me to come back east with him, but my roots were in Texas. So he returned and set me up in a charming retirement hotel. I never could have managed the move, physically or financially, without him. He takes good care of me now, just as Dorothy would have done. My grandson has enriched my life beyond measure. But far more importantly, I had tried to close the door on the past and on the pain of losing a grandson and my beloved Dorothy when there came a letter and a knock at the door.

Did I say I was too old for surprises? Not on your life. It's never too late to be surprised by the Lord's blessings.

3 comments:

Daughter of 2 women said...

Beautiful story! I wonder how the adoptive parents felt about all of this?

Genevieve said...

Oh! You were right about needing the kleenex!!

momseekingpeace said...

Ahhh what a nice story.
MSP