I thought I’d pen a little more about my grandmother. I was embroidering just now and had some tremendously strong thoughts about her. I don’t know why, but I just thought I’d go with it. I felt like she was hanging around, so maybe this was my way of spending some time with her.
She was put into an orphanage at an early age….sadly, it wasn’t early enough. No, she wasn’t handed over as an infant, she was around 12 years old. Now, this is the fascinating thing about a family like mine. We know of things, but prefer not to talk about them. It would be rude….
I’ve always thought that was nonsense, so I asked Granny, “Why were you given up for adoption? It’s an unusual age.”
Georgia pines were racing by. I was sitting in the passenger seat of her Grand Marquis as we sped up the highway to have lunch with my mother in Waycross. Those pines….Should you find a time to hit a rural road near the Florida Georgia line, look when you can on either side of you when you’re driving. The perfectly lined columns of Georgia pine will play with your mind. I promise you.
She remained motionless while driving, spilling the words, “My parents couldn’t afford to feed me. They wanted to save me from starvation.” She never looked at me, never flinched, was almost emotionless. She was a very matter of fact woman. Confessions don’t always need tears and sadness. Her hands still delicately holding the steering wheel.
You could say I persisted, but the truth is, she volunteered.
“What happened next?” I had to ask. No one seems to want ask about her life because of….what? Shame?
You must understand, that by every measure I was disrespecting the wishes of everyone in my family by even bring up the issue. DO NOT EVER TALK ABOUT BAD THINGS IN THIS FAMILY…..
You know? In an alarming way it seemed as though she had been wanting to say it for decades. “They said they would come back for me later, once I had some supper. But, I never saw them again.” There was no moment of pause, no deep breathe of confession, no tone of liberation. It was a cold delivery. Very, very factual, on point….
“They left me….and never came back.”
I was about 25 at the time and stupidity was still an infection I was plagued with. So, I asked her. “Do you hate them? I would!”
This is where I saw that shift in her face, that beautiful face that had seen so much of life, finally caught a glimpse of what it meant for her to find inside something joyous, something to strive for. With a lilt, then maybe a tilt in the corner of her mouth shifting brightly in to a smile, she said, “Of course not. I’m actually hunting down their graves right now. I have NO idea where they are buried and….I have a lead my mother is in Waycross.”
“Is THAT why we’re going all the way to Georgia for lunch?”
“Well, yes….and I thought you might like to see your own mother while she’s alive….”
While everyone stayed silent, I wanted to know more. Maybe that’s why she told me so much. I asked about her unusual life.
Yes, it is true that she had been handed over to an orphanage at the age of 12. However, within just a few years she would meet my grandfather, marry him the day they met, and would be living in Okinawa learning how to sew kimono.
I was so anxious to know more. I was hell bent on asking anything I could….She answered my question! I have to know more!
“We’ll talk later,” she said.
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