When my dad was a baby, he was abandoned by his mother.
We don’t know the whole story. A lot of us suspect that there was an affair or scandal that led to his abandonment. But, none of that is provable.
My dad’s mother, my biological grandmother, left him as a newborn baby in the damp, freezing basement of her Massachusetts home. She most certainly knew she was leaving him there for dead.
His life was spared by the next door neighbor, Dorothy. She found him in the basement while trying to check on her friend next door, and decided to take him in. He was left behind by a mother who didn’t want him, and found by a mother who did.
Dorothy became my dad’s adoptive mother. Dorothy, my Nana. I remember so little of her, but I know with all my heart that she was an incredible woman. When her alcoholic husband decided to reveal to my dad that he was adopted by calling him a bastard, my Nana told him the truth. She explained that he was loved very much by her, but yes, his birth mother abandoned him. He spent the rest of his life with a deep ache in his spirit for a mother who did the unthinkable. He became a radiant, intelligent, hilarious, and warm man — a man I love so dearly it hurts. But, I know he has always carried a lot of pain.
He was fortunate to marry my mother, a loving and kind woman who has shown him the love his mother did not. A few years ago, she decided to give him the gift of finding his first family. She joined Ancestry.com and began looking for them. It was no easy task, especially having so little knowledge of his biological mother or father. My mom kept at it, and eventually, she found them.
My dad’s siblings. My uncles. My aunts.
My mom got them in touch with each other and organized the first phone call among them all. My dad, and his found family, all cried over the phone. Soon after, they made plans to meet in person.
They have continued to meet, year after year. They go on vacations together. They stay at each other’s homes. They love each other with a God-sent kind of love. The kind that makes you think they’ve known each other forever.
Our mothers are so important, so inherent to our identity and worth. To be left, unloved, by your own mother, is probably the worst kind of mother wound there is. If there is anything I have learned from my dad’s story, it’s that even the deepest of wounds can heal. They heal through love from our families. They heal when the people we love show up for us to mend the wound, like my mom did for my dad. They heal when we find the people who can show us the love we missed out on.
I know my dad’s story is rare. I’m sure that most abandoned children don’t get the kind of happy ending my dad did. But these rare and sparkling stories give me hope, give me faith in the future. In our ability to heal. In the power of love and family.
These stories make me believe in a better life than the one we’re living right now. A new normal could be right around the corner. Healing could be just around the bend. And in that, I take hope.