Monday, October 26, 2009
So many questions, so few answers. This seems to be the common pattern in my quest to know my mother. My aunt believes the past should stay the past. Why do you have to look back so much? You have a nice guy, be happy. Leave what happened before alone. But I need to know. We look to our mothers to chart our course in life. Though I can clearly see that I am becoming more and more the mother I am meant to be, that I am this mother now, with or without my mother, she has shaped me, her absence has shaped me, everything that I know and don't know about her has brought me to this moment in time. My aunt may wish me to forget, but this woman who birthed me is too much a part of me to just let go completely. With each glimpse of myself in the mirror, I feel her there wanting me to find her.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Years ago, I sent my aunt, Barbara, a list of questions about my grandmother and mother. This afternoon, I sift through the scrawled writing that follows my questions in hopes of finding some essence of my grandmother. I haven't looked at this list for at least 14 years and though I must have read it through several times, today there are pieces of this information that feel brand new as if I completely divested the details from my mind.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
What did my grandmother ever tell me about her life? Last night, I went to bed and as I shut my eyes, I asked her to tell me again. Sometime during the night, before Sasha makes his usual shifts in his crib, this is what she said.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
How do I find a beginning amongst all of the places I could begin? As I search through tattered documents, I learn things that bring forward what has been long buried in my mind and challenge the many versions of my life I've told and been told. My mother's life starts with the marriage of her mother, Albina, aged 31, now on her second marriage, and her father, age 29, on October 25, 1941. My mother was born less than two months later. What is the story of my mother's conception?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I wish I could say that my mother was the type of woman who could do this or that but I cannot offer a convincing scenario. I can only say that I know she suffered. She must have. And I can say that I chased after her while she was alive and long after. She was the mother I could never know, the woman who left me instead with her own mother so that I could step into the strands of her life as if she had never left. In this way, I became my mother and though time continued forward, we merged for my grandmother so she could retain her daughter. Strangers still, I absorbed my mother deep inside me.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Today I give my mother life. I trace the frail strands of memory devoted to her and imagine my way back. Today I go into the archive of my mother, sorting through incomplete records that only hint at the shape of her life, and give rise to more urgent questions than answers. Today I ignore the no trespassing signs my grandmother erected at every turn as if my mother's existence depends on my finding the things I was never meant to find. Today I give my mother life.
Patricia Joyce Finn.
Child of Patrick Joseph Finn and Albina Irene Cihkey.
Born on the 20th day of December, 1941.
Friday, October 16, 2009
You are dead from the moment I am conceived. This is known. There will be no future for us. You and I will never be a mother and daughter because you are losing your mind and your body and my only role to you is to bear witness. Only I will not know what I am witnessing. I may not even know who you are. And who are you, woman who gave birth to me, woman who is the grandmother of the children I have conceived, each a part of you, a part of the legacy that I never knew?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I was once in my mother's body but perhaps not in her heart, nor in her mind. But I was there. I can still claim her. She was mine and I was hers, sharing that dying body. When I was pregnant with Sasha, I began to think more and more about the circumstances of my birth. Did my mother birth me vaginally or was I removed via a c-section? I don't know why it matters to me but suddenly it does. I call the Cooley Dickenson Hospital where I was born and ask if it is possible to get a copy of my birth records. When I am told that records are destroyed after 20 years, I hang up and wonder if this is something that will ever be known to me.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
May 21, 1995
Dear Mr. Hairston,
I am enclosing a copy of a letter I wrote you almost a year and a half ago. I have also sent you other letters but no longer have them in hand. When I never heard from you, I wasn't sure what to think. Did you find my letters to be crazy or perhaps some sort of hoax or did you never receive any of them? I have decided to try again. In case you doubt my identity, I am giving you a photo of my mother with you at your AA clinic. It seems to be from a newspaper article. I will also include a photo of myself.
Monday, October 12, 2009
December 28, 1993
Dear Mr. Hairston,
I am uncertain whether or not you will even remember me at all or any of what I am inquiring about in this letter but once I was given your name, I had to make contact. It was some time ago that you knew my mother. My maiden name is Michelle Pugh and I am the daughter of Patricia Finn Thompson, who lived at 6 Union Street with my grandparents, Albina and Mitchell Kocot. My mother was your patient at the AA clinic on Market Street. She suffered from Huntington's Disease and died on Memorial Day in 1978. I hope that you do remember her and that you may be willing to help me with answers to some questions I have about her. This is why I am writing to you--to learn about my mother.
Friday, October 9, 2009
This week I have felt like I am writing my blog while on the gong show. I have just minutes to get my point across while the judge suspends the mallet in front of the gong. Though I have officially taken the pressure off myself to write every day, I want to get some momentum to reestablish myself. With a sick baby and classes for a therapy certification and other issues I can't yet discuss, I've had just minutes a day to write.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I always believed the key to learning my mother's secrets was to find her therapist, William Hairston. It was my aunt who sent me a clipping from the Daily Gazette with a local story on his work with veterans. Scrawled to the side of his photo was a note: He was the one who knew her best.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
My mother had sex on a particular night with a man I have never met (or have I?) or even heard his name (or have I?) whom she may have just met for that night or had known for some time. She could have wanted sex that night or not. She could have had an orgasm or not. She could have wanted a baby or never given it a thought. But some time in those next weeks or even months if she wasn't focused on it, she knew she was pregnant and then what?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Seeing my cousin, Jill, again at the end of August brought my past closer to me but when I talk with her I feel as if she and I were not in the same place and time. What we do both recall is how angry our grandmother was, how despondent. Jill mentioned again that she did not like our grandmother and in truth, I didn't like her either. I needed her. Perhaps at times I even loved her, but I never liked her. She was too hard to like. Too inaccessible emotionally and physically. My grandmother did not draw me to her; the only one in her arms and heart was my mother--when she was alive and dead.
Monday, October 5, 2009
It has been over two months since I have written inside this box and hit publish post. While some of this arose from my insecurities surrounding my friend's critique and the inevitable questioning of my ability to write at all, other circumstances have also been at play, details which I am not at liberty to share just yet with you, my readers. What I can tell you now is that I am in nearly the same place in my life that I was when I began my search for a mother, only now I am a mother. My child is here with me and yet my current life is even more uncertain than it was two years ago when I advertised for someone to be a mother to me. With this new crisis comes the inevitable mother yearning, when I want someone in my life to reassure me that all will be well, that no matter what happens I will be safe.