The Woman in the Golden-rod Cart

Up and over a golf-course-sized-hill, I’m wearing my “enjoying life” smile.  Rolling up alongside me is a beautiful golden-rod cart with its passenger; she has her smile on as well.

As if we’d met at Paradise Bakery for a chat and a mango flavored iced tea, this friend and I get along famously.  We coast along for many hours as our carts gently go up and then kindly down each hill. Enjoyable. It’s cool with a gentle breeze, I feel refreshed, and even more comfortable in my seat.  A friend can do that, and to think I had forgotten.

Straight away we discuss our mothers and how we each managed to live through a painful loss.  We had both been guided by Hospice of the Valley to that final day. We both held secret guilt about things we did or didn’t do.  And, a funny thing, we both still have stacks and stacks of our mother’s things and have found their purses to be most perplexing.  What DO you do with your mother’s purse?

We chit-chat children, woe worries, and linger love as we happily coast along for hours disguised as minutes.

She tells of a romantic moon-lit dance on a snow-covered mountain top and how much she treasures the love of her life.  And having my own that I adore, I appreciate the delightful story.  We are so very lucky to have our soul mates and lives of love.

While I am not an adoptive mom, this fellow passenger is and has adopted two children.  However, I had thought about becoming an “A” mom at one point in time.  I have to say, I’ve only met one other mom who brings their “A” game for her family.  This mom oozes all the big C’s as she speaks about her children; Care, Compassion, Concern, and Consistent-love.

While she tells me about the day her new-born daughter entered her life – she glows.  So bright at times I have to squint and I’m warmed to the center of my soul.

“Seriously, you have never seen a more beautiful baby,” she told me with wide-eyes, “She was perfect!”

And the day the family picked up her precious son was 18 Christmases rolled into one.

In the background, I swear… can you hear it? It’s Satchmo (Louis Armstrong), “What A Wonderful World.”

When she finished, I closed my mouth and sat up straight.  I think about my own adoptive mother and wonder, did she think I was the most beautiful baby that ever existed?  When I was in school, did she hang on every word I shared?  On prom day, did she wonder about my birth mother missing such a spectacular event?  How about my wedding day?

Not only did this adoptive mother love beyond measure, but she thought of the two other mothers that expanded her universe.  She knew, every day what special gifts she had.

She melts as she talks about her children; whether they were small or teens. The joy pools up while her bottom eyelids mostly hold them in.  She is filled with love and adoration, even though they have long been adults out on their own.

For this Dorothy, there was absolutely NO PLACE LIKE HOME.  No matter where they lived, or what challenges lay before them – the four of them meant HOME.  THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.  And that is still where her heart is, plus two incredible grandchildren have been added.  Oh boy, does she sparkle when she talks about them!  THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Part of Dorothy's Dream Come True

Being a mom and then a grandma, that's what it's all about.

We gab about our families and challenges with raising children.  With laughter and tears we exchanged sweet, “only-your-family knows” stories.  In unison we both agree  how down right hard it was at times.

But, when she admitted to pondering the possibility of doing a better job – if she had been the child’s real mother, I was stunned.

With her head lowered, and eyes down she said, “You know, maybe their real mother would have done the exact right thing sooner.”  She twisted and pulled something in her hand, and peeked up at me, “That’s what I often thought.”

I’m choked up… real mother – that is what she said.

I recall my first, my sweet baby girl, Ashleigh; her Dad and I were in our early twenties, and I worried I did things wrong.

Having a baby was an incredible miracle and I never knew I could love someone so much.  This little person turned my world upside down, she was pure joy and love.  I could prattle on like a four-hour documentary movie on the soul shaping experience, but I’m sure you have more to do and desire the end of this post.  Feeling this way simply meant; I wanted to do everything perfect, for her.

But I didn’t.  My husband and I were far from perfect.  We learned how a few tastes of dessert were not harmless, that encouraging her physically would one day mean she could easily climb and bound out of her crib, and that an un-attended glass of ice could pose a serious choking threat.  Just to name a few mistakes.

We learned.  Exactly the same way my friend in the golden-rod cart learned.  We are both real mothers!

Many times her tales made me think about myself as a child and the things my adoptive mom did or lacked in.  I thought of my FOLAB (Found Out Late Adoptee Buddy) and how her adoptive mother was also “lacking.”

I lean back, look up… like light bulbs are popping on I realize; Just because I wasn’t loved the same as a biological child (my brother) by my adoptive mother doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen for others.  This is proof!

Especially this mother (and her husband), each moment since they were a family has been all about the Big C’s and love for her children.

The way I love my daughter and son, so does she – beyond measure.

As we see our carts begin to go their separate ways we share a smile and a special glance.  There’s a glimmer of thankfulness for the friendship and validation we bring to each other.

We are given what we need and it’s what we do with our gifts that help us to enjoy life; the big things and the simple pleasures.  And often these gifts help us learn.  I learned and have opened my heart to a better understanding of adoptive moms.

The hours of joy along side this wonderful person in the golden-rod cart meant the world to me!

In case, like me, you’ve never seen “Satchmo” sing this beautiful song – here it is.  It’s amazing to watch… you can see this man’s pure joy for life.

Two Years Ago

As I bounce rigidly – moving forward on this washboard portion, I’m tense and hurting.  There’s that old familiar feeling – I need to get off this ride. My grip is so tight on the safety bar – my stark-white knuckles feel as if they will poke out of my skin.  My head jerks and my teeth bang together until I stiffen my jaw.  My bones rattle against the metal seat and floor.  This is very painful and soulfully unsettling.

It’s that time where I re-live what happened “Two Years Ago” and I’m with my mother. There are no options only patience, but I’m afraid.  I’m helping her through the final days of her life, and doing all I can to make her happy.  On a day-to-day basis, giving birth was not nearly as excruciating.  I don’t want to be here, and don’t want to remember… but it grips me.

After a while, the impact has been so hard and consistent I feel num.  I take a deep breath and remember, I have to let it go.  I did my absolute best.

Exhale… I have a great life.  Inhale… from the simple and ordinary.

Hmm hmm, woof… AawwWWWwwwrrhh, BARK – BARK, BARK – BARK howwwl… Yap yap. Yap yap. Ahhhooooo…

Ah, my dogs.  My simple and ordinary everyday bright spots.

Warmth fills the air.

Wap wap, wap wap. A big tail is whacking and whapping everything it passes and I smile.  That’s my Ozzie, loud and lovable.

I can close my eyes and instantly feel the peace they bring.  No matter where I am. This canine-joy has a way of smoothing out the lumps in my heart and calming the raging pain.

Especially when it’s summer-time and we all go swimming; enthusiastic, sweet, loud, odd, and pretty… it’s all good!

I put the thick foam-rubber raft in and before you can hear the smack of it breaking the surface, it has two passengers- odd and pretty.  One races right to the edge and encourages the others to get in.  And they both do; one in the deep end with professional flair (enthusiastic) and the other (loud) in his place on the top step.  Everyone does their own thing while the encourager (sweet) paces and keeps after the occasional bird that might hit the rock-waterfall for a drink.

There are toys involved, and liquid musical chairs continue for 30 minutes.  Most of them eventually settle on a towel under an umbrella, cool in the breeze.

I’m not num any more, and long past the bumpy washboard moments. I get many laps in and my heart races – in a good way. I float peacefully listening to music playing in the background.  It’s time to go in so I take the toys out … but I am moved by the music, and a familiar song.

My body shifts and shoulders shrug.  I sway left, then to the right.  Left arm out of the water, down.  Right arm up, down, and I pirouette.  Oh… I love this song!

“Hey kids, shake it loose together – the spotlight’s hitting something that’s been known to change the weather…We’ll kill the fatted calf tonight, so… stick around.  You’re gonna hear electric music solid walls of sound.”

It’s like water ballet at first, and then it happens . . . can’t stop it, the singing, the movin’-n-groovin’ in the shallow end…

The dogs stand watching, wagging with enjoyment as well.

“B- B- B- Bennie and the Jets…

Well, here – see if you don’t like this just a little…

The pain has left the ride, Two Years Ago has passed.

Pull my finger

Up ahead in a dark tunnel I see dancing golden flicks of light.  As I get closer I can see candles, quite a few.  They’re on a beautiful big cake.

I’m on a straight-away now and going a bit slower.  I lean up as I pass and read, “Happy Birthday!”  It’s my beautiful red head, Foster K and she’s sitting right in front of the cake.  Her sky-blue bright-spirited eyes shoot right through the dark.

“Happy Birthday, Hon – Wow… Fourteen, right?” I ask her.

“Yeah… finally,” she chuckles, just before taking a deep breath, blowing out the candles.

I am turned, watching the scene as it gets smaller behind me.  The tunnel is filled with a sweet birthday-candle smoky haze.

“Hey Sue… Love you!” She shouts at me.

Oh… wow…

I turn and sit forward, unable to speak.  Suddenly I am thrust through double doors that take me out side.  I am unaware of what’s around me as my heart is deeply touched by Foster K.  The scene glistens and its all a blur.  I am profoundly affected by this special young lady.  Tears of joy land one and then another on the sapphire-blue safety bar.

While I’m guided up a small hill, and then down, I think about Foster K.

I’ll never forget the first time I met her; she was barely three years old.  Starving for everything, she needed to be out of this place. With her long red hair, big voice, and capable body I knew my life would never be the same.

She moved in the next day and it wasn’t long before I thought I was in over my head.  Her strong personality (cussed like a sailor) and will to survive (by not letting anyone in) made me realize – I had met my match.  I knew that deep down she really needed me, even if she did beat her fists on the side window, screaming from her little car seat, “Let me out of this f***ing car!”

She had been torn apart physically and emotionally, and let’s just say- it got worse before it got better.  Finally, the nightmares, self-mutilation, and lack of impulse control drained from her little body as it didn’t stand a chance against a determined mother on a mission.  Together with my family, we provided therapeutic foster care and we could all see the miracle that was K.  We filled her up with love, music, and fun.

By five years old,  she was soaking up everything.  She was smart and had a terrific sense of humor.

A social worker witnessed this one day when Foster K raced up to her at the front door and said, “Pull my finger.”  She pointed her index finger out and then held it up higher, “Quick, pull it… Do it!”

Yes, you know what happened.  As I sat mortified, pointing directly at my husband, Foster K’s laughter engulfed the room and spread amongst us.

Everything we poured in to this child, we got back (obviously) and still do.  She is filled to the brim with joy.  As I continue to see her on this journey, I’m always reminded of how incredibly blessed I am; to have been her mom when she needed me, and now her friend.