Happy Birthday…at last!

Research is usually involved when I sit down to write, the norm for most people, I’d imagine.  Sometimes, it’s just to gather up various thoughts that have been expressed on a particular subject or to cite factual data when necessary.

On the subject of adoptions, from a first-mother’s perspective, there are a wealth of websites to be found and the overall tone of what’s shared tends to be dominated by heartbreaking stories with so much regret, so much pain…and searching.

In sharing mine over the years, I cannot say that this has been my state of mind, not completely.  Yes, the heartbreak was there as I thought of so many things about a child who was mine for such a brief time; how had he grown, was he happy, who did he look like, did he know about me and resent me…this last one was major and as years pass, that one thought kept stabbing at my heart.  So many adoptees grow up with feelings of rejection and never have the opportunity to re-connect with their biological parents to learn about their beginnings along with the sacrifices that were often involved with their adoption process.

But, at this very moment, I’m one of the lucky ones now that my wonderful mother and child reunion has taken place after so many years.  To finally put a name on a card and be able to send all the birthday wishes I’ve gathered for so long…to pick-up the phone and say Happy “First” Birthday….priceless!

 

                                                         

 

 

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Medal of Honor

A slow day at the office allowed for extra time on my hands this afternoon.  That and two days of rain which just set the mood for some deep thinking.  San Francisco has been on my mind a great deal lately with a trip to the beautiful city by the bay coming up in a few months.  Shortly after I was born, my mother and I moved to California to live with my father’s family while he served in the South Pacific with the Navy during WWII.  We returned to live on the West Coast in the late 1950′s but being away from New York and her family proved too much for my mother and…back we came.  That was more than fifty years ago and I’ve always wanted to visit there again.

Today, I thought back to Thanksgiving of 1958 on a tree-lined street with stately homes in San Mateo, the home of my Great Aunt Jeanette, her husband Ralph and their children, second cousins that I was excited to meet.  I recall pulling up to that house where a hot rod car was parked outside and a group of boys were gathered around the vehicle.  Smiling faces waited on the porch and eagerly greeted the three visitors from New York but the distracting sound of a revving engine interrupted the introductions and warm hugs.  Out of the corner of my eye, I spied him; t-shirt, dungarees and a blonde crew cut.  He quickly hopped into the street rod and took off  like a madman, leaving Aunt Jeanette to exclaim “oh, that Bud…can’t sit still for a minute!” as she welcomed us into her lovely home.

I can still picture the dining room in my mind; a table so elegantly set for the holiday dinner, complete with place cards.  Tall stemmed glasses held some type of a punch with fresh strawberries for the younger family members and my Uncle Ralph slowly poured wine for the adults.   As the food was put on the table, Bud came roaring back up the street, bounded into the house and I was finally introduced to who the other relatives described as my car crazy cousin.   We all sat down to eat and there were little pockets of conversation going on along with much laughter.  Bud asked me about life back in New York but I could only clumsily reply to this 18 year old asking so many questions.  That was the way back then, especially for a 13 year old who attended a parochial school where the girls were kept separate from the boys.  Not much chance for comfortable social development where the nuns were concerned.

That was the first and last time I ever saw Bud or my San Mateo relatives.  I’ve thought about all of them over the years, especially once I connected with other family in California recently and started doing my own Google searches with names I’ve found here and there.  Today, I brought up my paternal grandmother’s obituary and searched for her sister, my Great Aunt Jeanette.  In a few seconds, there it was, a lengthy piece of her life accomplishments along with the names of all her family members; one especially stood out.  That name was Paul Foster, listed in the obituary as having preceded her in death, having been killed in Vietnam.  Paul’s nickname had always been “Bud” and he was 28 years old when he died.   From there, a quick search of his name brought up many results, all linked to him receiving a Medal of Honor, posthumously, in a White House ceremony with President Richard Nixon in June of 1969. 

I posted about this on my Facebook and shared it with a friend, John Zaffino, a former Marine who proudly served our country in Vietnam and a fellow Blogger who I greatly admire.  He called my cousin a hero, a response both heartwarming as well as a reminder of the brotherhood that makes up the vital military forces who protect the citizens of the United States.

My hope now is that, through someone else’s internet search, Paul Hellstrom Foster will always be remembered both for the honors bestowed upon him and because I shared this memory of my second cousin with a big smile, crew-cut and California hot rod.

 

Thank you for your sacrifice and….Welcome Home, Bud.

           https://www.virtualwall.org/df/FosterPH01a.htm

 

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I wish I could…

Let’s put honesty on the line here….who hasn’t yearned to turn back time a good number of years?  And, the reasons why?

Now that I have you thinking, I’ll share a few of the thoughts that run through my head quite often.

I wish I could go back in time to when I was in school and not always be the outsider, longing to be part of one clique or another.  Back to the joy and heartbreak of that first, tender, teen-aged romance when just a glimpse of him made my heart skip and stomach twinge with excitement.  Back to unrealized dreams of success because I didn’t take school seriously.

I wish I could experience the joy of my children as babies and have a chance for a do-over, avoiding so many mistakes as their mother.   Enjoy them more and be less focused on pushing them to grow up.  And away.

I wish I could have learned so much more from those who left this earth, some too soon.  Answers to questions that I neglected to ask while there was still time.   Questions that remained unanswered and apologies that were never shared.  Good-byes that came too late. 

I wish I could learn not to let thoughts wake me in the middle of the night, pounding inside my head like an unwelcome visitor at my front door. 

I wish I could be assured that this world, once I leave it behind, will be a better place for my children, grandchildren and all who follow.  Fear of that unknown is almost paralyzing.

I wish I could enjoy the magnificent beauty of nature that surrounds me but…that takes more time than work allows.  For now, I can only admire it through someone else’s vision.

 

                                                                                                                 

 

And, sometimes I wish I could just hit fast-forward on time to see if in the end it’s all worth it!

 

 

 

Mama’s Losin’ It

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