‘Mommy?, Not The Mommy?’

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(17 oct 15) draft – subject to final edit

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Maybe I found my mom quite by mistake, hidden in plain sight, and not so far away.  Or maybe not; maybe wishfull mis-perception.

New Jersey refused to release my original Birth Certificate for my passport application.  I worked around the lack of Birth Certificate by using Baptism and other church and school records.  My church where I was Baptised sent my Baptism Certificate to me.  There were names that I NEVER expected to see – yet there they were.

I wrote about cousin Nancy – the daughter of my mom’s older brother.  I found her earlier this year via Internet search.  She is quite public operating a non-profit medical facility.  I found pictures of her on her web pages and Facebook.  I wrote a few e-mails to her and included attachments with documents to prove my bona fides; she made no reply to me.  I was browsing her Facebook page a couple months later and caught a post she made there – her post declared that she is not my cousin and not to write again.

If she is not related, then she is that one in 7 billion duplicate human being with all the same personal history, and same age, and same appearance as Nancy.  Her CV is exactly as my cousin’s – places, dates.

Here’s part of the kicker.  Unless it is one of those mind’s eye tricks people go through as I, when I was looking at her pictures on her web pages I tended to see a resemblance to me – brown hair, green eyes, light skin and not anywhere the same as others in her family or mine – the others have black hair, black eyes, dark skin from Mexican, Mexican Indian, Spanish, Turkish, Greek.  Nancy’s current picture appears so much as I recall her mother.  It hit me such that I thought looking at Nancy’s current picture was looking at almost my own picture; I compared my younger age pictures to Nancy’s younger age pictures and saw similarities.  At that time I did not quite go there at the thought that Nancy’s mom could be my bio mom. I had only crazy speculation  That thought seemed too far-fetched.

(1956 08 12) Baptism Certificate

Now I am considering that possibility.  That snippet of Nancy’s mom being listed as ‘Sponsor’ on my Baptism Certificate makes no sense to me otherwise.  Why not my dad’s older sister as that ‘Sponsor’?  Why not a maternal grandparent as that ‘Sponsor’?  Maybe my inquisitivity means nothing to the outside world but these questions rattle around the cobwebs of my mind – conscious or sub-conscious – whether I choose or not.

Getting back to the Baptism Certificate; this is a re-issue, the one that Saint Therese previously sent to me in September contained  mis-spelled names.  Nancy’s mom is ‘Sponsor’.  Why?  I never knew that it was there, no one ever told me it was there, and it was what hit me when I saw it there for that first time that recent Saturday this past September – speculation or ideation – my aunt could be my bio mom.  This family that I came from – however it is defined that I came from – is quite strange.  There is at least one episode of child abandonment – cousin Steve was put out to stranger adoption when family had his parents murdered – Steve was Uncle Frank’s son – the uncle in transition during the 1960s and murdered for it in 1970.  I persistently wondered if cousin Steve was let go because he was also feminine protesting and no one in the family wanted to take him.  My parents used Frank and Steve as threats to keep me in line (nope, did not work) but at least they kept me.

This is all twisted – a petty family filled with rejection and abandonment; I will continue with more explanation and documentation at this web-site.

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I began writing this nearly a year ago and sent versions of this to select people.

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Permit me to try written words though I would probably find them equally fumbling as spoken words to convey this message.

Maybe to some it would be disappointment.  To me this is a relief – a time to celebrate and maybe a journey of search.  The weight of 59 years has been lifted and I get a brand new beginning.

My family is quite a piece of work:  my parents went through adultery, separation, and divorce including plenty of child abuse, molestation, and attempted murder both between and beyond.

Nope that is not what this will discuss.

I want to try describing my evolving issue how I do not know who I am in the sense of that my ‘sister’ is not my sister, my ‘mother’ is not my mother, my ‘father’ is not my father – that my ‘family’ is not my family.  As they told me.

This will not be by any means a full accounting.  This document compiles and summarises what you likely already know about me in one concise narrative.

If none of this eventually holds true, then this begins to document how my family did quite a mess against me.  It was apparently not enough to commit assault, to nearly murder me, to raise all manner of abuse against me.

My earliest memories at which I can pin a date begin when I was three years old.  I was learning to read, learning to tell time, learning days of the week, learning dates and years.  I recall watching ‘Romper Room’ and the date was December 1959.

I remember at that time that family and friends referred to both my sister and me as ‘the twins’.

My understanding of that word at age three was limited to the point that my sister and I were alike.  How?  I knew no other implication of that word because that was how they defined it to me.  Well, we tend to say that ‘all babies look alike’ and that means little else.  Was this to assuage me?  I next began to understand that being ‘twins’ meant being the same age.  Kathy is two years older than me, so that meant we are not the same age and therefore not ‘twins’ in that new meaning.  Then more education and change; no longer did our family and friends call us ‘the twins’; I did not begin comprehending the full possibilities of these changes until later.

My mother’s younger brother, Frank, was married and had two daughters and one son.  My father had Frank arrested while in transition.  Frank and his wife died in 1970 – the open, unspoken family secret is that another family member murdered them and convinced the police that it was a double suicide as retribution for Frank’s transition; police had no interest investigating those cases during those days. The two daughters went to live with maternal grandparents but they abandoned their son Steve to the state. This family undercurrent was a dispute that Steve was not the child of one of the parents and neither side wanted him. I have never heard from Steve during these past 50 years; not a day passes that I have not put him in my heart. Is my history similar to Steve’s? Did some other family relatives abandon me to my current ‘family’?

My immediate family and I have no common features: my mother, father, and sister all have black hair, black eyes, dark skin, and square faces while I have brown hair, green eyes, light skin, and a long face. I have only one first cousin on my father’s side; she has dark hair, dark eyes, and a square face. The children of both my mother’s brothers all have dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin. My maternal grandmother was Mexican / Mexican Indian with dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin. I had only known of my paternal grandmother with grey hair, but in my late teens she showed to me a long lock of her hair that she kept when she cut it during her late teens; it was blonde hair. Part of my ‘Heinz 57’ family could include blonde hair Europeans. I studied Gregor Mendel; maybe I am ‘family’; maybe I’m that oddball of the exception if I’m made to consider I am related – an accumulation of only family recessive traits.

Or maybe my ‘mother’ is my mother or I’m somewhere from my mother’s side. And my ‘father’ is not my father.

I can’t recall hearing my father sing. Not once. Not in the car. Not at home. Not anywhere. Nor humm. I can recall the only times he ever whistled was as a call; I never heard him whistle a tune no matter how well or off-key. I can’t recall seeing him tapping his toes or fingers to a song. I never saw him play any musical instrument. I never recall he ever tried. The only musical instruments in our home following the separation, divorce, and final child custody placements were in my bedroom: my guitar and my bongo drums. I never saw a played musical instrument at any other relatives of my father’s side, nor any musical inclination whatsoever.

Maybe I have the music genes from that woman who may or may not be my mother or my mother’s family. My mother had a baby grand piano; she played quite well. I, too, played the piano growing up, as well as the guitar (both acoustic and electric – both right-handed and left-handed) and drums. I could read the sheet music but I could not be bothered playing piano to it. I learned on my own about notes, chordes, sharps, and flats. I preferred composing my own songs, some I never played the same way twice because I could not be bothered to write them and I was always trying new arrangements to please my spirit. BBC World Service sounded a short 10 second musical clip at their top-of-the-hour identification. In 12th Grade, I composed an extended variation on that short theme (depending on the version); I frequently played my composition anywhere I could find a piano, modifying my version to fit my mood: at the school music room timed between class breaks, in college when I took a music course, at a friend’s home, and nearly everywhere else when I came upon a piano. I have not played it since the mid-1980s; put a piano in front of me and let me ‘play it again’.

As for Kathy, she tried both the piano and guitar to no success; though ever the duty of this younger child to boost her ego, I always told her that she was better than I.

Kathy was no success at our church’s children’s choir and was not granted an audition for our adult choir. I sang in our church’s youth choir and the choirmaster precociously advanced me to our adult choir during my 8th Grade. I liken what was once my singing voice as being similar to Karen Carpenter; I began harmonising to her records and playing along with my guitar beginning in 1969.

I was offered the opportunity to join a rock band in 1975, but declined because it would require road touring at the time when I was obligated to care for my dad’s home and Slim, my Lhasa Apso. I strongly considered quitting my Forest Service job when I lived at Utah (1980 to 1985). I had been learning and performing the entire Beatles catalogue since the early 1970s and thought it would be interesting to be a ‘tribute’ act – especially in those days shortly following John Lennon’s murder. Again, I never made that ‘leap’ because of the uncertainty as a professional / touring musician and the idea of ‘tribute’ acts was little known in those days as far as I knew.

I wrote more than 200 music compositions from my teens to my 40s. I made only one lasting music recording (1977) – a cassette tape of me performing and singing my own music. I sent it to my mother. Now that she is dead, who knows what my sister did with our mother’s property, that tape is probably long gone.

I empathise Linda Ronstadt’s refusal to sing because she lost her voice. This is much of what I began experiencing 40 years ago when I began enduring a series of illnesses, sore throats, and bouts of actually losing my voice for weeks at a time beginning when I first went to Greece in 1971 and into early 1980s; my voice worsened with each repeated episode. I last tried seriously singing about 20 years ago during a conversation with a follower to my ‘Rock Club Rising’ show. We were talking about the Eurovision Song Contest and I tried performing Cliff Richard’s song from the 1973 contest. My effort was failure.

Is my ‘mother’ my mother or my mother’s family and this musical background reflects my inheritances from her or her family?

My mother re-drew popular cartoon characters.

Kathy and I used our coloring books as kids. All she could do was admonish me that I must ‘stay in the lines’ and use the same colors she used; nope, I always drew more than shown on the coloring book pages. Kathy received that ‘Kenner’ slide show projector for Christmas 1962. I spent the next several months using colored pencils to draw storyboards on paper and develop new episodes for the ‘Kenner Kids’ cartoon characters. Kathy showed no appreciation of my effort, so I quit those drawings.

(2015 07 17) Silly Surfer Says (Thailand) (Liz) (CROP)

Independently artistic, I have been making pencil, chalk, charcoal, and oil / water color art as long as I remember. I copied artwork from my childhood books. I frequently received art supplies as birthday and Christmas presents. I received a colored pencil set to occupy my time following my tonsillectomy in 4th Grade; I spent entire days drawing pictures of the hospital, the people, the patients.

‘Silly Surfer’ was one of multiple cartoon characters I created beginning at 2nd Grade; it became my persona that I used when I created my own greeting cards for birthdays, holidays, and other events. I composed those cards until at least early high school.

(1992 02 xx) Amber's Drawing

My cousin Amber (on my father’s side) spontaneousloy drew her picture for me when I visited with her and other family in 1992. I cherish her drawing.

I know of no one else in my ‘family’ as artistic in any manner.

(2013 12 11) One Mind Already Wasted

I drew ‘Edipictstorials’ for most of the past several years. I was developing varying styles of cartoon depictions of political and social celebrities with an accompanying story in something a bit meatier than the ‘Tucson Weekly’ column called ‘The Skinny’.

Kathy is her own piece of work as a sister. She constantly bullied and abused me. I recall numerous times when our dad goaded her to hit me – she hit me and they both laughed. They made this their game and me their punching bag. My dad’s concept of child care was tying me to a chair and stuffing his handkerchief in my mouth to silence me while he took a nap. It has been many years since I last told this to ‘friends’ because they laughed at me, too. How would they want to be beaten, tied to a chair, and gagged? Finally nowadays prosecutors and courts are seeing it for what it is – a violent crime against a small child and requiring heavy prison sentencing. I shuddered when I heard about one case 20-something years ago (1994) about a mother who murdered her two children, stuffed their bodies in trash bags, and dumpt them in the sewer. Pick any other past or present child abuse case in the local news; I go into fits how those adults could treat their children so horribly.

Our cousins who lived about one-half mile from us had a Russian Blue cat. That cat had kittens; our dad got one for Kathy and she named it Skipper. That was when Kathy was about 10 years old and I was 8 years old. She did little to care for her cat; I was the one who fed Skipper, cleaned her litter box, and brushed her and bathed her. Skipper got pregnant and had a litter of eight cats. My dad told us that Kathy had to take Skipper and all but one kitten to the ‘pound’; Kathy kept Puff. Same story, Puff was Kathy’s cat but I held all the responsibility. In 1968, when my dad and I went to Idaho, Kathy stayed with our mom and our cousins for Summer visitation while I was obligated to bring Puff with me. Puff disappeared the second day we lived at the dairy farm. Kathy always blamed me, never mind she could not be bothered keeping Puff at home.

My Catholic dad continually said that he ‘wanted more children’ so they resorted to adoption. My dad frequently commented to me how he ‘wanted to adopt more children’. His sentiment inferred that I was the first adoptee to the house but apparently the last due to the marital collapse. My dad regularly pointed out all the other adopted children in our neighbourhood. Was that to make me feel gratefull to him that he rescued me from an abandoning family? Then why was he so abusive if he wanted me so badly?

My dad and I lived at that dairy farm at Saint Anthony, Idaho, when I was 12 years old (Summer 1968). He also took a part-time job at the Idaho State Youth Training Center (‘juvie’). Barely a day did not pass when he would come home and tell me he was considering adopting one of his students; he did not, but there was that adoption line again – ‘I want to adopt more children’.

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend 1977. I was travelling with Slim to meet my dad who had recently begun his job as school principal at New Mexico. Slim and I arrived at our mother’s home during the evening. Kathy told me that she would be leaving early the next morning to go away for the weekend. She told me it was okay for me to spend the night with her; she assigned me to the couch. I fed Slim, walked him, and we relaxed. Slim slept with me (as always). I awoke the next morning. No Kathy and no Slim. I looked all through the home; still no Slim. I went outside and called; still no Slim. I walked through the neighbourhood, called, and knocked on doors – desperately; still no Slim. I eventually made a telephone call to Kathy and asked her if she knew anything about Slim. She coldly told me that Slim must have run away. Slim was not strange to my mom’s home, the yard, or the neighbourhood; I brought him with me when I visited several times during the 1970s. I spent two weeks searching for Slim to no luck; no one responded to my ‘Lost Dog’ ad.

I speculated at that time that Kathy did something to Slim as payback for some imagined act she ascribed I did to Puff. Did she toss him into the canal? Did she take him to the desert? Did she outright kill him? Her cold-hearted attitude always made me shudder what she might have done to Slim. It was as though I lost my only child. I raised Slim on my own since we got him as a pup. I fed him, bathed him, combed and styled his hair, walked him; my room was lined with papers as I trained him. He had his own bed, but frequently slept with me the seven years I had him. I admit that I could abuse him – it was what my family taught me to do until I was realising I had to do different – better. I was learning to get past my abusive behaviour while battling my abusive family. My final day with Slim remains a cherished memory: I bathed him (he loved baths) and groomed him for the expected trip to New Mexico; we played during his bathing and grooming – he was so happy.

Another family story, quietly told in hushed speech, was how my mother only wanted one child – her first-born, Kathy.

There was a time in 1979 when I overheard my mother telling my sister how I was an ‘un-wanted child’, not ‘un-wanted pregnancy’. This was not the first time I overheard that story before; this was the first occasion I fixed that undercurrent to a specific time or date. I was being more attuned by 1979, picking up more nuances of my mother’s attitude when she repeated how she never wanted a second pregnancy (e.g., me), and I was going through an extensive self-examining my own state.

Also during early 1979, my mother commented how she had an abortion of a pregnancy with her second husband – her comment punctuated with her ‘one and done’ declaration not wanting a second child. I had no need to directly ask her if that meant I was beyond her ‘one’ (Kathy) or if I was an ‘un-wanted’ accident within her ‘one’. My thought was that no matter what I asked, my mom would make an excuse for what she said. I decided it was better to let her un-planned subconcious words speak for themselves and accept that I am outside her ‘one’. She had one child – Kathy; I am the ‘un-wanted’.

I began a lifetime observational study of Family Composition Identity Base. In other words:

  • the first-born child’s family composition identity base is mother, father, and self
  • the second-born child’s family composition identity base is mother, father, older sibling, self
  • the third-born child’s family composition identity base is mother, father, and two older siblings.

And so forth. This explains why Kathy’s family composition identity excludes me and mine is essential with her. This study reflects results similar to the ‘Cain and Abel Syndrome’ and the ‘First-born Syndrome’.

I researched and read my familly’s legal mess from court records during the late-1990s. Kathy called to me a few times during that period. She frantically warned me that I should not do it; she whined, ‘You will find things that you do not want to know’. Her admonition did not quite happen. I found nothing unusual or unexpected; I found no so-called ‘things you do not want to know’.

I questioned Kathy of my family-hood in an e-mail that I wrote to her last September 2014; Kathy replied to my e-mail that she wanted nothing more of me. I finalised and sent a follow-up e-mail to her on this issue; her non-reply speaks volumes to me.

I have no ‘Birth Certificate’. I mean in the current sense that I presently do not possess a piece of paper entitled ‘Birth Certificate’. I was supposedly born at New Jersey. I contacted New Jersey about a decade ago to obtain a certified copy to keep with my personal records. New Jersey replied to my request with a form letter muddling without explanation how they were denying my request, that I am not allowed access to my Birth Certificate, that my Birth Certificate does not exist, that my record is sealed. This exchange added to my doubts. Why would New Jersey hinder my access to my ‘Birth Certificate’?

I went to the Social Security Administration office here at Phoenix requesting information and documentation they have in my file. These people tell me that they are not obligated to disclose anything to me about my own file. Huh? I think I need to put this issue in writing to a higher level.

I have been to the DES public assitance offices. I have a file there when I applied for and received Food Stamps and AHCCCS medical until recently. AHCCCS eligibility requires proof of citizenship – a Birth Certificate or passport. I did not have mine. I asked them to obtain their verification from New Jersey; that is what I did for my clients when I worked as a DES public assistance case manager. DES and AHCCCS approved me. I asked to review my file and get an un-official copy of the records they used for my Birth Certificate, or whatever. The DES case workers tell me that I have no authority to see the contents of my file. Huh? I never made any secret of a client’s case file when I worked at DES; I always showed what documents we had and any need for missing document and I always provided whatever copies they need.

I sought copies of documents from my federal employment personnel record about 10 years ago when I wanted to file on-line applications and use some of my documents as electronic attachments. The records center sent a letter to me telling me that my file is ‘sealed’. What happened?

Why all these secrecies? Why all these denials? Why should it be so complicated to access my own records stored at government files? I do know that government agencies seal records of people whose backgrounds usually involve complications. I have read many stories about governmental entities hindering adoptees from their true records. Is this my fate?

Recall that I travelled to New Jersey to be with my dying father during July 1989. I stayed with him at his sister’s home during his final three weeks; my dad died during that third week. My sister stayed only two weeks; she departed for home at San Diego one week before he died. She lived her two weeks as if on vacation partying at New York City with our cousin. She barely spent time with our father and spent no time with me. I saw it as Kathy ignoring me as usual and extended that thought that she had no concern to commiserate with me because she did not see me as ‘family’, therefore did not see me of any value for her time.

My dad died on a Wednesday – 19 Jul 1989.

My mom came late Thursday afternoon and was to have stayed with me through Saturday until my return home to Tucson. My mom instead chose to visit with her ex-in-laws upstairs while I stayed in the basement and pondered my dad’s death. Friday morning I saw my mom on her way out the door; she told me that she was going to visit other family at New Jersey the next few days and would not return until Sunday. She ignored my plea when I begged her to stay and talk with me. As with Kathy, what mother would ignore the sadness of her own child mourning the death of her father unless I am not the child of that woman and not worthy of her time. She held no value in me when she beat me nearly to death throughout my childhood and now she held no value of my presence as an adult.

My family have managed the least amount of contact during these past few decades especially since my father’s death in 1989 and their subsequent theft of his estate. They sent a trunk and a suitcase to me containing a few of my dad’s possessions. ‘That’s all’ they told me. It seems that my dad apparently hid documents inside his luggage, unbeknown to his family. The invading criminals tore apart the luggage, found the documents, and scattered them throughout the trash they made of my home. I collected what I found, put them in scattered boxes as I accumulated them, and there they remain in storage.

There is part of me that wants to confirm that this family is not my family. Of course, that means deciding whether or not to begin searching for my real family. I feel as though I am orphaned, but that point is neither confirmed nor denied by anyone or any authority. It is this limbo that seems more unsettling than knowing one way or the other. I can expect that Kathy and the rest of my ‘family’ have been more than happy to watch me writhe in this experience.

For my own ease writing this, I continued using words as ‘my mother’, ‘my father’, ‘my sister’, ‘my family’. I am referring to them as if family but in the sense adopting family more than real biological family. My journey to locate any real family out there depends on how much I care. Apparently my mother preferred abusing me and my father never saw me measuring to whatever he expected – never mind that I have been living a far more productive life that any of my family. This family took the past 58 years from me through their enduring heart-ache and abuse. Those people rejected me for me and all my skeletons in my closet and I ponder that any real family who surrendered me did so because they, too, chose to not deal with me before I had any skeletons. I have read many adopting stories that have good, bad, and indifferent endings. I do not know where my story will end, let alone begin; right now I’m willing to let my emotions settle before I focus on whether I will bother taking the next task.

When I get the time, I will sit and cry as long as I decide and then I will smile a broad smile and cheer and dance with joy that I get a new day. Oh no. I am not depressed. This is a 58 years weight lifted from me. I want to celebrate my new life. Eddie, an old class-mate from when I attended high school at Greece, had a favourite song that I also liked (‘I Just Wanna Celebrate’ by Rare Earth). That’s where I am. This is as if I get another ‘Birthday’. Few events could make me happier.

Here’s an example how I am elated. I am walking with a spring in my step. I had to make a couple stops today at the grocery. I was animated and conversant with the cashier and other customers – setting cheer to all. This does not seem to be anything other than anticipation of my future though I know I can expect possible rejection. That family thought so little of me that they dumpt me like so much trash.

The culmination of my analysis developed by ‘April Fool’s Day’ 2015. That family took me for a fool these past 58 years – and it all ended appropriately today. How fitting.

Thank you for your attention.

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