Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
My Mother loved to embroidery and sew.She made most all of her own clothes and Mary and Michaels clothes too.She was an excellent seamstress.I personally was never taught to sew as my Mom never sewed so therefore I was never taught.Possibly I was passed down this talent from my Mother and I just have not discovered it as of yet.I have good intentions to try my hand at embroidery someday in my near future.
During one of my conversations with Mary, it was mentioned that Dorothy embroidered.I asked Mary if the next time she came into town if she would bring some of our Mother’s items to show me.One Friday afternoon when I was getting my mail from the mailbox I received a package and it was from Mary.I could hardly wait to get inside my home to see what Mary had sent to me.Mary sent to me several pieces of our Mother’s handiwork.Two pillowcases, a dresser scarf, two guest towels for the bathroom and a doily. All of these pieces were placed neatly in a large zip lock bag with a note saying that our Mother made these and that they seemed now like they were intended for me all along.I held the bag to my chest and danced around my kitchen in tears.To hold something tangible that my Mother had made with love, every stitch sewn with love as this hobby brought her so much joy.In the note it said that the items were washed and starched by our Mother and given to Mary as a wedding gift.Mary never used any of the items.When I opened the zip lock bag it had a slight scent of ivory soap.Which now when I think of my Mother I am reminded of that scent.
Immediately I knew that the doily would have to be framed and hung proudly in my home, this is something I will be doing once I return from my vacation.Mary mentioned in her note to please use the items, that our Mother made the items to be used.I have yet to use any of the items.Somehow it seems to me that if I use the items they will wear out and I will no longer have them.What are your thoughts on this?
I admire the items and wonder if my Mother somehow knows that I have her handiwork.I wonder if she knew when making the items that I would end up with them someday, probably not, but maybe she “hoped” I would.To hold in my hand what my Mother held in her hand is priceless.
On May 4th I will be taking my first “NEW” family vacation, I can hardly wait!So many NEW memories to be made! It is as if I have waited for this moment my entire lifetime.
Michael and Cindy are picking me up bright and early, actually let me rephrase that, dark and early, so early it will still be dark outside.We are driving to Grand Junction, Colorado.Our intention is to arrive at the airport in Colorado in time to pick up Mary at 4pm on 5/5.We will pick up Mary, enjoy the evening together and then the actual nature vacation will begin on 5/6.We are going to state parks in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming together just the four of us.Mary’s husband is staying home so that we can bond better.I have yet to meet John, Mary’s husband; I have spoken to him on the telephone.Mary and John are coming into town in September for one week; I will get to meet John then.
The four of us will be together until 5/14 when Mary will depart to go back to her home.Michael, Cindy and I will travel through Nebraska onto Iowa to meet our Mother’s only surviving sister, Viola.Viola is 85; I am looking so forward to meeting her.I am hoping Viola can tell me all about Dorothy as a child, as I want to know everything there is to know about my Mother.
We are planning on arriving home on 5/18 or 5/19.I am hoping the time together goes slowly; I will be taking in and savoring every second of each day.After all we have a lot of catching up to do.
Other than checking in by telephone to see how my parents are doing I will be completely disconnected from my life at home, I don’t want anything to detract me from my family.So often I am out and I see families at a table dining and they are all connected to their phone texting others.When I am with my parents, I am with them 100%.When I am with my friends I am with them 100%, when I am with my “new” family I will be with them 100%.I am counting the days, as of today there are 17 more days to go before I leave for my “first”“NEW” family vacation.I have been told this will be a yearly adventure.We are already tossing ideas around for next May.Can you see my SMILE?
This Picture of Dorothy was taken on my sister Mary's Wedding Day on 4/5/1968. Dorothy was 45 when this picture was taken. This picture of me was taken in October 2012, three weeks prior to meeting my sister Mary and brother Michael. I would have been six years old when Mary married her husband John. I wonder if Dorothy thought of me that day possibly thinking I could have been in the wedding.
This is a picture of Dorothy's it is her engagement picture, she was 19 years of age when she married. This is a picture of me taken in November 2012 - 50 years of age.
I see my brother Michael and sister-in-law Cindy pretty much every two weeks, we normally get together and have dinner on a Sunday evening and we talk on the telephone usually once a week.We hook up for a Trivia Night now and then as Michael is a BIG Trivia buff.When I say BIG Trivia buff, I mean it!In March Michael and Cindy got together four tables of eight to a table and invited me to meet all of their friends.I sat at the table with Michael and Cindy and five others and our table won first place, we won $160.00, which means we each got our entrance fee returned to us.Mainly we ALL had so much fun!Michael and Cindy told all their friends before the Trivia Night about me.I was like a celebrity, everyone telling me how Michael and Cindy shared my story with them and how they were touched and so happy for all of us to be united.Some even became tearful when chatting with me as my story touched their heart that much, which of course made me misty.I received hugs from everyone there at those four tables of eight and felt sincere kindness and happiness from each of them.All told me what a wonderful brother I have.I knew that too from the first time I met Michael.
The Trivia night that we attended was to raise money for a young boy with Autism to get a support dog.Here is the funny part.I attended this very same Trivia night the year before for a different young boy with Autism to raise money for a support dog for him.Michael and Cindy where there with their friends and I was there at a table with my friends.We were in the same exact room together playing trivia just one year prior.I had no clue that Michael even existed nor did he know that I existed, yet we were in the same place at the same time.Gives me chills to think that maybe we passed in the lobby or better yet maybe our tables were near one another. Maybe this was the beginning of the entire journey and I just didn’t know it at the time.
This upcoming Sunday I have been invited to a cook out at Michael and Cindy’s home, with their friends.I am so looking forward to that.I love that they have opened their life to me.I was so concerned that we would meet in October and that would be it, was I ever wrong.I am so happy to be wrong.
There are no random acts...We are all connected...
You can no more separate one life from another
than you can separate a breeze from the wind...
~ Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven ~
What are your views on Heaven?
When you die do you believe you will meet your loved ones in heaven? Will you know them and will they know you?
I asked this question to everyone I met after I had discovered my Mother was deceased. Most of whom I did not explain why I was asking, I just asked the question as if I was curious to hear their response.From my Catholic education and from my own personal beliefs I believed that: YES, when I die I will meet my loved ones in heaven, I will know them just as I knew them on earth and they will know me just as they knew me on earth.
Now there was someone whom I wanted to meet, I ached to meet her; I still ache to meet her.
Will I know my own Mother?Of course we met; she carried me in her womb for nine months. Dorothy and I shared the closest of all relationships, Mother and Child.I heard her heartbeat, her laughter, her cries, her conversations.But I never met her beyond that point.I believe she held me, hugged me, kissed me and squeezed me tight while she cried while letting me go.However, we never met again.How would Dorothy recognize me?I wonder if when she died if she asked Jesus “please let me see my Anna”.Did Jesus and Dorothy stand on a cloud together while he pointed and said, “Look, there she is”.I wonder if she looked down from heaven and was proud of the woman I had become.Assuming Dorothy did ask Jesus to show me to her then she has an advantage these last 30 years.She has seen me grow from the age of 19 until now 51.I have seen many pictures of my Mother, but I have never seen her, held her, and touched her.
I imagine that when I die, in God’s perfect timing, that I will step off of a cloud and there will be my Mother, standing there quietly.We will stand there at a distance from one another, just looking at one another, soaking in each other with all of our senses.Then my Mother will step forward and so will I and together we will walk until we embrace.We will hug; I will kiss her on the cheek, pull back and study her face, she will study my face.I will cry, she will cry.Our reunion will be happier in heaven than any reunion we ever could have of imagined here on earth.I will know Dorothy as my Mother and Dorothy will know me as her Anna.All of the many questions I have now will no longer be of any importance to me.
I try to live daily to be the best person I can be, to be a Godly person, love everyone just as God has loved me. Somehow knowing that I have a destination to meet not only Jesus but my Mother makes me strive even more to honor my Lord and Savior.
The time arrived in March 2012 when Gladys and I had our talk. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon; I went to visit the three graves: Dorothy, Lawrence and Viola. I have to drive past the green house on my way to the graves; I looked for Gladys and did not see her outside. I went to visit the graves and decorated them each for Easter. Upon my drive down the hill I saw Gladys; she was outside strolling around her property surrounded by her cats. My heart felt very happy to see her as I have wanted to chat with her, I wanted to know about Dorothy from a “friends” viewpoint.I doubted she would remember me from my stop to find the grave back in August. Remember me she did! Gladys instantly recognized me and seemed very happy to see me, she also seemed eager to chat with me.Gladys told me she had hoped I would stop by someday so we would get to talk. She asked me my name again and I told her, and then she said “which of the forces did you join?” Mary, my sister had joined the Peace Corps after college.So I told Gladys, that she must be referring to my sister, Mary, she joined the Peace Corps after college.Then Gladys said to me still not knowing who I was exactly, “I knew you were Dorothy’s daughter the instant I laid eyes on you”.Those very words replay in my mind from time to time as that was the best compliment ever to me! Then Gladys added that she thought Dorothy only had two children, a boy and a girl.I knew if Gladys really knew Dorothy that I would be faced with this eventually.I felt at complete liberty to tell Gladys everything if I had wanted too.I have already been in contact with Mary and Michael and they have been spreading the word about me being in their lives so I felt I could freely talk to Gladys about Dorothy.Gladys told me that her brother and she used to play cards with Dorothy and her brother Lawrence from time to time.She added that Dorothy led a very busy life what with raising two children on her own so rarely did she get to join in the card games, but that when she was able they always had fun.
I decided to tell Gladys everything about me and my adoption and how I was Dorothy’s third child.I didn’t go into all of the details, more or less skimmed the surface of things.She asked me questions, not too many, and I answered them.
Gladys told me that her family had owned the Mercantile store and pointed in the direction of the store and told me what to look for when I left that the building on the corner was once the Mercantile.Gladys told me that Dorothy came into the store once a week and was a very quiet lady, kept to herself, was very kind and a gentle type and then added that Dorothy was very stylish.Gladys told me that Dorothy was quite the seamstress and made her own clothes, that her and her children were always dressed impeccable.This I had also heard from Mary and Michael.
Gladys is such a nice woman, looked like a hard working woman in her day.If my Mother was alive she would be 90 in August 2013, Gladys seemed younger, not all that much, possibly 85.I didn’t ask her and she did not offer.
This was what I was thinking prior to actually talking to Gladys.Was Gladys one of the people in the small town that Dorothy might have been ashamed to bring home a baby, being she was unwed and pregnant?If you remember, Mary and Michael felt that Dorothy left home to hide her pregnancy and then placed me for adoption due to being ashamed of being in that predicament at 39 and ashamed of people would say.
If what Mary and Michael thought was true, then my next question to Gladys was this “Gladys, if Dorothy had told her community she was with child and unwed would people in this town have talked about Dorothy?”Gladys asked me what year I was born, so I told her 1962.Gladys said “OH MY heavens, YES, Dorothy would have been the talk of the town”.I said: so it is fair to say that Dorothy gave me up for adoption because of what others would have thought and said about her. Gladys: “yes, probably so.They would have also had a few names to call the baby”.Gladys told me that 1962 was a different day and age, she said Dorothy was probably talked about anyway for being divorced, so being Dorothy became pregnant without a husband it would have been unheard of in those days.I said to Gladys, do you think if Dorothy would have brought me home from the hospital in February and you would have seen me in June or July sitting on a blanket on the front lawn with my Mother, brother and sister, and saw how cute of a baby I was, people would still criticize? Gladys said “YES!”She added “they would criticize our Lord if he walked down the street in sandals”.
This is the part that really breaks my heart.Not that my Mother gave me up for adoption.But that she loved me like only a Mother does, she wanted to keep me, she suffered the remainder of her life, she was never the same, was in fact depressed, and all because of what other people may have of thought of her.Yes, we have come a long way since 1962, but shame on anyone that would have thought less of this beautiful kindhearted woman whom I am happy to have as my Mother.
When I read Dorothy’s obituary I knew I needed to visit her in the cemetery. Now I would be the first person to tell you that you don’t need to go to a cemetery to visit the dead, you can talk to them in your heart anytime you want to talk to them, and you have their undivided attention. However, I felt a calling to visit my Mother’s grave. I looked up the cemetery on Google maps, keyed in the address into my GPS and made a visit. I had the section and the grave number written down so I could find my Mother easily. The cemetery is 17 miles from my home. I arrived at the cemetery on a beautiful hot Friday evening at the end of August. This was actually the day that Mary, my sister, had received my letter the day prior. I drove around looking for section numbers, this is an old cemetery and if there were numbers marking the section I certainly could not find them. I was feeling discouraged as I looked and looked around at so many graves and not a single number to be found. I even got out and walked around aimlessly, feeling so lost there. As I started to leave I saw there was a green framed home that was on the property of the cemetery, I actually passed the home at the entrance to the cemetery but did not notice it then. It was as if the home just appeared to me and invited me in.I had to assume this home belonged to the caretaker of the cemetery. The home had three cars out front so I also assumed someone was home. On the front porch of this home were many cats and kittens. I would not be exaggerating at all if I told you there were a good 25+ felines napping on this porch. As I approached the door to ring the bell some of the cats scurried off and some stayed sound asleep unbothered by me being there. I ran the bell and waited and waited. No one came to the door after several minutes so I started walking towards my car. Feeling very sad at this point, I had come so close, my Mother was here in this cemetery, so close and I had no way of finding her.Then I heard the side door of the home squeak open and a much older woman came outside asking if she could help me.
The reality of finding my Mother deceased was still very raw to me, still very new, I had my sunglasses on so that when I asked this woman to help me find my Mother’s grave she could not see I was upset about being at the cemetery. I asked her if she could help me find a grave, she explained her husband was the caretaker until he passed away but that she knew everyone buried in the cemetery by name. I told this woman I was looking for a section and told her the section number and grave number. She told me the sections are numbered but not that the eye could see, only on paper. She asked me “who are you looking for?” she knew all the graves by who was in them not by a number. So I told her. She told me she knew Dorothy quite well that her family was friends with Dorothy and her family while they all were growing up. She said that Dorothy was buried next to her brother Lawrence and sister Viola up on top the hill in the Catholic section. She then gave me directions on how to find her grave. Then she asked me who I was. Who was I? Should I tell her the truth? Why would I not? I questioned myself quickly as at this time of my first visit to the cemetery I had mailed the letter to Mary, my sister, on Monday, just four days prior, but did not yet receive a reply. I told the cemetery lady, I am Dorothy’s daughter, Carol. Me telling this woman that I was Dorothy’s daughter Carol, did not seem to faze the cemetery lady at all.I asked her what her name was. She told me Gladys. I asked her if sometime if I see her outside could I stop and talk to her about my Mother and what kind of woman she was, she said she would be happy to talk to me sometime. I assumed she didn’t know Dorothy that well or maybe she forgot how many children Dorothy had.
Approximately two weeks later Tom did return my call.He asked me again to provide him all of the information I had already provided him with two weeks prior.And again wanted to know what I wanted from him.So again, I explained everything.Who all the players were, dates, names even my biological Mother’s address, which she never moved from and social security number.I had everything, so basically the records that are sealed under Missouri law were nothing that I didn’t already know.I just wanted one tidbit of information; anything that Tom could share with me would have been valuable to me.Tom told me that Dorothy checked herself into Villa Marie maternity home on October 22, 1961, three months prior to my birth and that she was accompanied by a priest Fr. James A. Flynn the pastor of St. Patrick’s Church and a gentleman.Immediately I asked “who was the gentleman? What was his name? Was he my Father?” Tom said there was nothing in the file to indicate the “gentleman” was my Father, there was nothing in the file to indicate he was also not my Father.It was written in the file that both men were there for support as Dorothy was very reluctant to check into the home.I said, “Reluctant”? I also asked if Dorothy could have checked out of the home any time she wanted. I asked that upon checking into the home was it ‘ironed in stone’ that she would in fact give me up for adoption?Tom said that Dorothy could have checked out of the home anytime she wanted to.However, by staying in the home and giving her baby up for adoption everything would be paid for, Dorothy would have no medical bills.He also said that Dorothy could have given birth to me and taken me home, but that once she signed the paper work on 2/9/62 it was final, she would have given up all rights to me.I asked what Dorothy received for giving up her baby.Tom said, other than her medical bills covered she did not receive a dime.
Again I asked why they don’t know the name of the “gentleman”.Tom said in 1962 the records were very slipshod and that in those days they did not get full and detailed information of everyone that was accompanying the Mother.He stated that nowadays if someone accompanies a Mother to check into a maternity home they now get complete information on everyone involved.But that those things were different in the 50’s and 60’s.
Everything was running so smooth in talking to Tom.I very nonchalantly asked Tom if he could scan me a copy of my file and email it to me.I really did not think anything of my request of him as I had everything already; I just wanted to see the file.Oh my, asking for a copy of my file was the wrong thing to say.Tom told me he didn’t know what more I could possibly want, I had everything.If I wanted/needed to know anything more I would need an attorney and get a court order to see my file.Truthfully I don’t know what more I could find out by getting an attorney to obtain a copy of my file.And I didn’t see any harm in my question.Apparently it offended Tom, I apologized to him, thanked him for all he has done for me and our conversation ended.I sometimes think that Tom getting upset like he did tells me that there is “something” in the file I need to see and that was Tom’s way of telling me to pursue it.I don’t really know what to think, but the option to obtain an attorney is always there for me.
After our “reunion” I got to thinking about my Father, who was he? How can I find him? Is it important to find him as maybe he was just a sperm donor? Maybe he is meant to be unknown as the paperwork showed. Maybe if Dorothy wanted me to find him she would have not listed him as ‘unknown’.Maybe she told him she was pregnant and he bolted.Or maybe if my hunch was correct that he was a business man traveling, that she would have had no way to reach him to tell him she was pregnant.Maybe besides a first name she knew nothing more about him which really did make him ‘unknown’. Or maybe she chose not to tell him as she did not love him.Or maybe she did not want to raise another child at the age of 39 as she just couldn’t do it again.
I telephoned Catholic Charities; I spoke with a compassionate gentleman named Tom.I wanted Tom to know immediately that I knew my Biological Mother’s Name, date of birth, address and social security number and that my Father was unknown.I gave Tom my parent’s full name as that is who my adoption files were listed under.I provided him dates and told him I had my original birth certificate.Tom asked me that being I have everything I could want what exactly did I want from him?So I told him.I wanted him to look in my file and tell me if there was any type of note on my Mother, maybe the smallest detail would bring me peace.I explained to him that I searched for Dorothy and that I found her deceased and that I was devastated at finding her deceased.I told him I have a sister and a brother and we have met and will continue to be in one another’s lives, and that is wonderful to me, but I still need more for my peace of mind regarding my Mother.I told him I just want to know if there was anything at all in my file about my Mother Dorothy that he could share with me.He wrote everything down and told me due to the year of my birth 1962 my file was archived.He would have to go to where they keep the archives in another part of town.He said it would take a week or more he took my number and told me he would call me.
At our reunion I discovered what I had thought, that Mary, Michael and myself do not share the same Father.Dorothy married a man named Clarence when Dorothy was 19 years of age.Dorothy shortly thereafter gave birth to Mary and Michael followed 5 years later.Then Dorothy and Clarence divorced, Clarence moved to Oregon and was never seen or heard from since.
In order for Dorothy to support two children she had to work and work hard.By day Dorothy worked in a diner, early morning and afternoon shifts.Dorothy wanted to be home for when Mary and Michael returned from school.Then after a short break of seeing her children she then got herself ready for her evening job.She worked at an upscale restaurant where the tips were better than the diner.She worked long and hard and was very dependable to her employers.
Naturally my question to Mary and Michael was do they remember Dorothy dating anyone, if so maybe we three could figure out who my Father was.Quickly they both responded that Dorothy had no time to date, no time for friendships, no time for any kind of life as all she did was work and provide for her children, barely making ends meet.Both Mary and Michael said that never did Dorothy bring home anyone to meet them.They never knew of a man in Dorothy’s life and believe that Dorothy would not have had time for a companion.Dorothy rarely had time for anything but work and her children.She didn’t even go out with her best girlfriend, Barb; there was just no time for a life outside of work and her children.
So who is my Father?Here is what I think; I think that Dorothy met someone at the upscale restaurant which is still in business to this day.Maybe a customer that was on a business trip that happened to just stop in for a nice meal, before turning in to start another day.Maybe while Dorothy was waiting his table they sparked up a conversation and maybe after Dorothy got off from work they enjoyed a glass of wine together and maybe one thing led to another.I am in no means trying to imply that my beloved Mother Dorothy was “easy”, but things happen, people get lonely, sometimes we just go with the flow not thinking of the consequences.These are just my thoughts on the subject, I certainly could be all wrong.
I made mention once when talking with Michael recently about this same subject that I was “just a mistake”.Michael quickly telling me to “take that back, I was not a mistake”.That made me smile.
Mary brought along with her a large envelope to the restaurant. Mary handed me the envelope and said that inside were pictures of Dorothy. Mary had originally planned on mailing me a picture but time had slipped away from her. Inside of the envelope where nine pictures of Dorothy taken at various times in Dorothy’s life. I held the envelope, apprehensive to open the envelope yet dying to see what Dorothy looked like, anxious to see this woman that gave birth to me. I held the envelope to my chest and said a little prayer in my heart before opening it as I have waited and wondered my entire lifetime about Dorothy. Michael and Mary were telling me while at the restaurant how much I looked like Dorothy and that our profiles are spot on. I took a deep breath and opened the large brown envelope and pulled out the pictures. The first and largest picture was in a cardboard case that needed to be opened. Mary said before I opened the flap that this particular picture was the only professional picture ever taken of Dorothy, it was her wedding picture taken at age 19. Again I took a deep breath and opened the flap. It was like looking at a picture of me, the similarities were identical. The picture took my breath away and caused my eyes to well with big tears. I said out loud “oh my God, I look just like her”. Mary, Michael and Cindy all agreed.
Mary and I look the very similar in our facial features, our jaw line, nose, cheekbones, eyes are the same. Our stature is not similar. Mary is very petite and actually takes after my namesake our Grandmother Anna. Anna was a very petite woman, both of whom are 5’1. Strange to me that I, the one Dorothy relinquished looks the most like Dorothy in every aspect. I have been told that I have the same gate as Dorothy, as we both walk with a purpose; fast pace with a “don’t mess with me” stride. That made me laugh but now that I realize that about myself I see it. Michael is tall and normal build. Michael and I have the same eyes, cheekbones and jaw line. Michael and I seem quite alike in our personalities.