The Miracle of My Parent’s Marriage

Yesterday would have been my parent’s wedding anniversary had they still been living. I discovered when I was a middle school child that my mother conceived me out of wedlock. On their anniversary I would joke about taking a chance on them when I wanted to be born into this this life. That was because my mom was only a junior in high school and my dad had just started going to the university for higher education when they discovered my presence.

It took learning about my original grandparents (both of my parents were adopted) before it started dawning on me what a miracle it was that I was not given up for adoption. My mom’s adoptive parents were a banker and his socialite wife. Adoption was the most natural thing in the world within my family. My dad’s parents were humble entrepreneurs making draperies for wealthy people in a little shop in their home. They were also very religious. I’ve been going through old family letters (at least 30 years old) to clean out the clutter. Every letter from my dad’s adoptive parents has some religiosity in it.

During my own journey to know my actual roots (my parents died knowing next to nothing about their mid-1930s pre-adoption parents), I did realize how amazing that I was not also given up for adoption. I believe my mom’s adoptive parents would have been in favor of it. Somehow, I do believe it was my dad’s adoptive parents that preserved me in the family, though I cannot know this for certain. What I do know is that they took my young parents in for awhile and put me in a dresser drawer for a bassinet. I also know that when we were pre-school, we were living in an apartment of a 3 residence dwelling that my paternal grandparents owned.

My parents were high school sweethearts. It may be that they would have married anyway or maybe not. My dad could have fallen in love with someone else at the university or my mom with someone else in her high school. I did find preserved loved letters from that time among their belongings but did not keep them. I had read the story of a woman who’s mother had destroyed her own such letters. This person lamented that but her mother said they were personal between the two lovers. I didn’t read my parents’ letters though I did see one note by my mom worrying about how my dad would take the news that she was pregnant.

Sometimes I wish I had kept those letters. Sometimes I wish I had kept some of their early photos but I am getting older as are my two sisters and I thought I would just divide it up and turn it over to the grandchildren instead. I exist and I grew up in a loving family and that is enough I suppose.

Where Does It Begin ?

Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died,
even if his or her story lies submerged in years of silence,
fragments of life experience, memory and body sensation can live on,
reaching out from the past to resolution in the minds and bodies
of those living in the present.

~ It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn

At some point, as I delved into my own origins story, I began to wonder if many of the random things that seemed to happen to my family members were the result of something that happened to our ancestors.

I discovered this book that seemed to indicate that it was a real possibility.

Wolynn asks early in his book – Did something traumatic happen while your mother was pregnant with you ?

I would say that any unplanned pregnancy would be – to some extent – “traumatic”, wouldn’t you ?  Most adoptions are the result of an unplanned pregnancy.  My mom was only a teenager in high school when she discovered that I was on my way.  At 2 months pregnant, she married my father.  He had only just started his university education but had to quit school and go to work to support us.

But what about in the days and weeks before the decision to marry took place ?  I did find the love letters my parents were writing to one another as I cleaned out their belongings after they had both died.  I only read one.  It was a note from my mother to a friend (I don’t know whether she ever delivered it) that was stressing about how my father would react to the news.  I suppose if I had known I was going to embark on this origins journey less than 2 years later, I might have saved them for the insights they would have given me.

I do regret not saving the love letters.  Shortly before I started cleaning out their home, I had read an article.  It was written by a woman who lamented her mother destroying similar letters after her father had died.  She told her daughter that they were not for anyone else to read beyond the two of them – not even their own child.  That the letters were private.  That perspective is what guided my thoughts at the time.

Previously, I had received a bunch of letters that my dad’s adoptive father had written, I believe mostly during World War II, from my mom.  I actually read one of those letters at my grandfather’s funeral service as an indication of his love of family and country.  However, most of those letters simply sat here – unread – for a couple of years and eventually, I delivered them to my grandfather’s biological daughter, my Aunt Karen.

I suppose the lack of time I had to hopefully read those love letters, influenced my decision not to keep my parent’s love letters when I had them in hand.  Too bad I can’t go back and retrieve them now.