Monday, November 30, 2015

We lost the battle, but we won the war.

How could anyone not love her?

Well, where does one begin?

At the beginning, I suppose.

My mother in law, whom I love very much, for a variety of reasons, is nearing the end of her life.   The family is working with hospice, as her mind and body begins its wind down.  We lost my father in law about 14 months ago, now it's her time for her farewell performance.

Nothing is imminent, it's just the doctor has said that given her age, that if she has another internal bleeding episode that it would be easier on her if we just to let nature take its course.  At 92, she is simply tired.

Faced with this, the husband and I started working doubly hard on trying to find her birth parents.  It's been a decades process that never really yielded anything.  All her adoption agency would give her when she was well was "non-identifying" information, which was all accurate, but impossible to prove.

Last spring, after watch Dr. Henry Gates use a genetic genealogist by the name of Cece Moore, I thought, now there's something that we've never done before.  So I contacted Ms. Moore, and she was delighted to help us.  Since her plate was full, she handed us over to another able professional named Angela, and together we marched forward, until all of us got distracted with the things in our lives.

Then this past fall, we really pushed forward.  Finally, with MIL's DNA providing us nothing but ancient overseas matches, we tried another route.

Go back to the source of our frustrations.

We decided to contact the adoption agency.

MIL was adopted in New York, and New York laws on adoptions were, for years, byzantine at best and pure gothic at its worst.

In 1989, MIL started playing this "ask me a question and I'll tell you no lies" routine that led nowhere but the "non-identification" information which contained things like "Your father was a protestant; your mother a Catholic."  And "Your mother was raised in a convent for six years of her life."

What are you supposed to do when an agency is bound by rules and laws that can only tell you "On the day that you were born, the sun came up in the east, and set in the west"?  You give up after exhausting what you think are the logical steps that take you nowhere.

This time, given her advanced age, the agency got a legal opinion that enough time had passed, and they kindly provided us with information.

We then came upon a letter written by MIL to the agency in 1991 in which she expressed her displeasure with the whole "snatch this pebble from my hand" routine and in it, it said that she would like to meet her siblings, if they could be found. The letter was a whole lot nicer than I would have been, still, you could sense her annoyance between the lines causing the words and meanings to vibrate with sarcasm.

Apparently, MIL's birth parents were married, and following the birth of third child, the birth mother went into a deep cycle postpartum depression.  This lifted with her fourth pregnancy, which was MIL, but she crashed again and was institutionalized, possibly for the rest of her life.  She could no longer function or care for the other three children, what good was she, thought her husband who was making .87 hour as a tool and die maker.  So we knew they were out there.  What we didn't know where they ended up.

Well, apparently, two of them ended up with the birth father.  Son and second daughter ended up with the father and were living with them by 1940.  But we couldn't much on them, so we focused on the eldest daughter, "Agatha".  She had married a man with a unique last name, so running those lines came easily.  We found that woman's son on Ancestry, and his descendents through Facebook.  They were all in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs.

We contacted them and we waited.

And one of them bit at it and answered back.  We said that we did want anything, we weren't there to sell anything, and we wanted no personal information, but we did want to share the MIL adoption with them.   We laid all the cards out of the table, but we did not provide anything in writing in documents.   Those we would share if we got to meet them.  We would even pay for the DNA test to prove it.

They said they would mull it over the holiday.  And we waited.

Finally on Saturday afternoon we received a tersely worded statement that that went something like this: "Since this was something never discussed in the family, we chose not to believe it or get involved." and "We would appreciate never hearing from you again."


That hurt.

Now granted, this family line has a lot of "stuff" going on in it that is outside the norm.  And yes, 90 years had gone past since the adoption.  But that was really a kick in pants.

So I responded, and said that I felt we were owed something from them.  And that something was we got to tell them that our door was always open to them should they change their minds.  But I also slipped in there that whether or not they chose to embrace this wonderful woman, it still didn't change the fact that she was "Agatha's" sister.  And there was nothing that they could do or say to the contrary.  They could either come around, or not, but that was their decision, not ours. I wished them well.

Away from it - we have no idea what  "Agatha" knew or didn't know.  She would have been nine when the MIL was removed from the family home.  Maybe her father told her he had put her up for adoption.  Maybe the hurt was so bad that she was never mentioned again, like a death.  Maybe  "Agatha" was so put off by her father's actions that she blamed him.  There is even the possibility that   "Agatha" was a totally unpleasant person.

We'll never know until  "Agatha's" people decide to man up, and reach out.  

They may think they won the battle by telling us to go away, but we won the war.

And how did we win the war?  Well, for starters, we have had my Mother-in-Law, a woman of such great compassion that had these people come knocking at the door, she would have taken them in, no questions asked.  And we have each other, though there is always room at the family table for more.   But we have the truth, and can give it to my mother in law.  She gets to know that her biological father did indeed do the best thing for her, which was putting her up for adoption, through which she was chosen and loved every moment of her adoptive parents lives, totally, and without question - she was their daughter.

So last week was a week of great celebration, and crushing defeat.  Now we push on to find the heirs of the other two siblings, and the final resting places of MIL's birth parents.

So yeah, we are a very lucky family.  And now I get to love her all the more.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...

Dinah is cooking someone we knew...

As for the Cookie and the Husband, we're having a nice, quiet meal of real turkey here at the house.  Then we are going to nap.  Because that's what the Pilgrims did.

Hows about you?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Well if Blobby can do it...

Blobby has committed typeface to blog-o-space and delved deep into the world of the Meme of "Your First Time."  You know the drill, standard questions. baring your soul, seeing reads it.

So here goes nothing:

My earliest memory 
My mother getting me ready for bed and delivering me a dose of Petrogalar, which was kept the in linen closet on a top shelf.  What is Petrogalar?  Better yet, what was it?  Well, Petrogalar (or Cascara Petrogalar as it sometime was sold) was a children's laxative and stomach soother in the vein of mineral oil and malox.  It came in a relatively elegant deco bottle, clear glass, tall with a wide mouth and a light blue label.  I remember the label because I recall the lowercase "g" was one of those that used a circle for the tail.  Anyway, I was a horribly collicy baby and had horrible stomach problems as an infant, toddler, child, teen, adult. And I never minded taking a spoonful, until my mother started buying in a brown bottle, and I refused it.  I think it was a different brand.  But I hated the taste of it when it came from that different bottle.  
First airline flight 
We flew on American Airlines from California to Ohio after driving a Lincoln Continental out to my uncle who lived in Bel Air.  Why?  Because cars were cheaper in Ohio in 1968. 
First time ‘doing it” 
This is a tricky one.  I used to do what most boys do - which is look and compare, with a bit of mutual play when I was very young.  But none of knew what were doing, or that something great could "come" from it.  It was just hey, you have what I have.  

And then there was my father, who loved me in the most inappropriate way possible. It was sex for me, it was sacrificing yourself in hopes of being loved. 

The first time doing it as "sex" is a much more, shall we say, dangerous thing.  It involved me, learning from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex - which was not a glowing way for an 11 year old to learn about sex between men, but it gave me a very exciting image - that those holes in partitions, in the bathrooms that my parents told me to never go into alone, were for sex with another guy.  So my first foray in the ecstatic feelings of arousal and another male's parts happened in the mens toilet at the long gone May's on the Heights in the west basement when I was in fifth grade, so 1973ish.  The other party could have been my father's age.  

This is not how anyone should learn about sex.  And thankfully, we live in a time now when kids - whenever they identify those feelings - have books that they can read and a hopefully find a more accepting support system then I had in 1973.  Hopefully, this helps to keep children out of the hands of adults who took advantage of us.  Do I hold any hard feelings towards that man?  No.  But it shouldn't have happened.  And I wish I had common sense enough understand how dangerous it was for me. 
First surgery
My gall bladder removal.  

First car
A 1973 Ford LTD Brougham four door sedan.  Green.  I hated that car. 
First death of someone close
This is a hard one - because we lived with death in our house.  My father's first wife - the mother of my brothers died when the brothers were children, but after my mother married my father.  So she, and her death, were always with us.  We also lived with the death, nine years before I was born of my mother's beloved youngest sister.  There were reminders of her everywhere but her name was never spoken out loud in front of my grandparents, who never recovered from the shock and loss of losing a child to a brain tumor at 21.  I had an uncle, Bob, who would stop by my grandparents home on the holidays.  Harriet Ann and Bob were highschool sweethearts, newly wed, when she died suddenly.  But my mother always would snap that Bob wasn't my uncle because Harriet had died before I was born, ergo, she was not my Aunt.  From this I learned that everyone grieves in a different way.  I also learned not to say "I'm sorry" when someone dies.  It's only applicable if you kill someone, which I haven't done.  Instead, you let the survivor speak, or remain silent, you hold their hand if they need that. You do for them that which needs doing.  And you call on them after all the mourner have left because that is the loneliest moment in their loss. 

So even as a small child, I learned that death happens, and it takes people from you, and that you will never see them again.  So when my father's father died when I was seven, I took it in stride, and understood all that it implied. 
First drink
Probably a sip of apricot brandy when I was child.  It was my grandmother's cure all for a sore throat.  
First regret
First?  Probably being caught in a lie when I was child and being punished for the dishonesty.   As an adult, I have many.  Maybe I'll learn from them one day.
First time rolling down grass hills
During my childhood in Shaker Heights, most likely.  Our house on Sherrington Road had a hill in the front yard.  
First pet 
A dog - a boston terrier - named Gypsy.  Much beloved.  My mother gave him away early one morning when I was five and asleep and we were moving.  She claimed he ran away and only toward the end of her life admitted that she had taken away from me the one being I loved more than anything.  I never let take care of any of the dogs I have owned.  Sorry, but you don't take away a child's dog. 
First time you knew you were different
Oh lordy!  What kind of different?

I was a child raised in a lax Jewish house.  I was never like my cousins who were all older.  I wasn't like my mothers family, who were all Methodists and people of simple means.  I had learning disabilities, so I was different from all my school mates.  And I liked to play with dolls, so I was different than other boys.

So I have known I was different, and have never been the same, until I came out of the closet.  A first step towards being normal on January 21, 1983. 
First presidential election
"1984.  I voted for Mondale.  Well, not true. I voted against Reagan." ~ Blobby.  And blobby said it best.  

First time you felt you were an adult
The night of January 21, 1983, when I came out.  When you take responsibility for yourself, then you are an adult.

First opera
La bohème.  My second Opera?  That is still waiting to happen. 
First time out of the country
Canada, although someone said that it really doesn't count because it's attached. 
First job
I carried the Cleveland Press.  In Fifth grade.  Gawd, I hated doing that in winter.
First time you ate rats at Tewkesbury
You got me.  First time eating a cock in Cleveland, see above.  

First kiss
I kissed a girl named "Clare" at summer camp and remembered that there was nothing.  The first I kissed a guy - actually a man who used his tongue when I was a teenager, now THAT was something. 

First realization of the axiom “life is not fair”
I was so burdened by a child's wishes that the Hell I was trapped in our life would go away and it never did - that was when I learned that life was not fair . 

First disgraceful behavior
I would say taking myself to places where men lurked, and like what they did to me as a child is pretty disgraceful.  That said, yeah, that would be it. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Doing Things You Hope Never to Do & Then Good Fortune: We are in contract!

A friend found this piece of "Made in Occupied Japan" and didn't
buy it.  I would have loved owning it.   

I will tell you - sometimes you have to do things that you hope no human will ever have to do to get a home sold.

But it looks like it took TWO St. Joseph statues to get the old place sold.

Around the first of November, Cookie and the Husband were beginning to get a bit scared.  No offers, no traffic, nada.  We had dropped the price of the Tudor Cottage to our lowest point.  And nothing.

There is a bit of superstition that in you bury a statue of St. Joseph upside down on the property lot (or in a potted plant if you life in an a hi-rise) and tell said religious statue as the patron saint of families that you need to sell the house so your family can be reunited as one, St. Joe will get the job done.

Well, we had buried the St. Joe that we used in Columbus and buried him upside down (per tradition) in the yard and waited.  NOTHING.  I moved him to a better spot and the house across of the street sold instead.  My realtor, fearing that I would dig up St. Joe a third time, and on the verge of hysterics, begging me not to disturb the mojo suggested a second St. Joseph.

Couldn't hurt.

Then we found three families that wanted to rent the house, through May of 2017.  Well that would take care of our mortgage payment and property taxes, and while not ideal, sometimes you take what you gotta take.

Still, I buried that second St. Joseph in the back yard.

I hunted down the first St. Joseph only to find him laying down under the inkberry holly where I put him on his head.

So I dug him up and replanted him, upside down - as tradition dictates - threatening him (also, as tradition dictates) to leave him there until he found a buyer.  Furthermore, I told him that he would spend eternity in the ground IF the St. Joseph in the back sold the house first.

Now, before anyone calls the boys from Happy Valley to put cookie in the padded room - remember, sometimes you have to do things that you hope you would never resort to to change the energy around you.

And you know what?  As the lease was being prepped, we had twenty showings, six second showings and *TING!* we found ourselves in contract!

Better yet - the contract is for "As-IS" on the house.

Thank Christ and Saints Joseph and Joseph!

Our targeted close is December 31st.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Christmas for MJ is taken care of...

Found at a Goodwill in Nebraska:

How can I get to Mebraska to buy it, and will it pass customs?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

So how was your Halloween?

Ours was exhausting.

The couple we bought our home from had old couple that had a tradition.   They passed out small Dixie cups of boxed wine to parents in the neighborhood.  We continued the tradition, but it being the first year, we were very careful which adults got wine:

1) You had to be from our neighborhood.
2) You had to be a parent.
3) You child needed to be in costume.
4) You needed to be 21 years of age or older.

For everyone else, they got a box of raisins and encouragement to go home and make their own.

But dear God!  The children.

On the old street we were lucky to get one or two trick or treaters.  Here we had HUNDREDS.  Literally, they swarmed.  And they have a parade first.  Unlike anything I have seen in Baltimore before.

We must have had 100 little girls dressed as someone from Frozen.  And one Little Boy dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  His bespectacled Mommy stated "Aiden is breaking gender barriers."  No.  Aiden is Belle.  You are projecting the gender barrier thing.

Anyhow, its time we scream into Thanksgiving.