Tuesday, May 29, 2007

stakeout success, part II

For a moment, they just stared at us. Karen and I were eyeballing the older woman, assessing height, weight, age. She looked to be in her late '70s, early '80s, a beautiful woman with snow white hair, smooth complexion, sparkling blue eyes. She was the first to smile, looking at me and saying "I know you, you're Audrey's baby girl."

It was not my mother, this beautiful woman in the cemetary, but it was my mother's stepsister, my aunt, whom I've not seen since the 1960s. The woman with her was my cousin, and the gentleman her husband. They were delighted to see us and we spent over an hour talking and laughing and hugging each other.

It was wonderful to hear them talk about my grandfather and how much they loved him. They were leaving these flowers on my grandmother's grave for Curtis long before he died. It was wonderful to hear them discuss his fierce protectiveness over his five children, how he divorced a woman who mistreated them while he was out on a run. This was comforting, because we've often wondered if he had any idea what my mother suffered at the hands of that bastard in Medicine Lodge. I am certain now that he did not know, that he would never have left her in that house if he'd had any idea.

Curtis told them that May loved purple, so the blossoms were always selected with that thought in mind. They told us how much they adored my mother, spoke of her sweet personality, her kindness, her love for her kids, her sharp wit and intelligence. Of course we talked about her disappearance, and the shock of it, how unexpected, how certain they were that she had to be dead, or she could never have left "those little girls."

They told us they had often thought of us over the years and that, in combination with a few other incidents from this weekend, started me thinking about the depth and persistence of people and their attachments to one another. Karen and I discussed at length how we are oddly unattached, how we seem to be able to leave friendships and acquaintances with little thought after the leaving is done. Was it abandonment that created this ability to simply unplug and disconnect? It's impossible to know, but when I hear of two people I'd not thought of in 40 years telling me they had long wondered how I was doing, it's an eye opener.

The same thing happened with one of my mother's dear friends, a next door neighbor I've written about before. Dot was thrilled to see us out for breakfast Sunday morning, grabbing me and hugging me repeatedly, telling her friend that I was "Audrey's precious little girl." She told me with tears in her eyes that she missed us terribly and thought of us often. I have thought of Dot since May Day of this year, when I wrote a post about leaving flowers on the doors of neighbors. But I can't say I've thought of her in the last 32 years since I moved from home and left Elmwood behind.

At church, my sister was accosted by several people who assured her they had been missing her, she who has not lived in that town since 1972. I find it so strange, almost as if I've been living on the surface of a life that has depths of which I've been unaware. How many people are out there who think of "Audrey's baby girl" and wonder how she's doing these days? I have no friends left from grade school, from high school, college. It feels like I'm leaving a wake of relationships, connections, lost loves, all trailing behind me as I sail through this life. The really strange thing, and Karen agrees, is that we don't feel anything missing. Maybe we are more disconnected than we know, even from ourselves? It doesn't feel that way, it feels self sufficient and independent and appreciative of time spent in solitude. Lots to think about. In solitude. Heh.

But back to the newfound aunt and cousin: we've exchanged addresses and will keep in touch. I made a short film of all of us discussing the events leading to our reunion. I am humbled by the thought of people so caring that they would continue adorning the graves of people related by marriage alone almost 40 years after death. My "new" aunt, Miss Dorothy, is a belle and our belle hearts connected on a different level. I admired her superb French manicure and we discussed how badly our hair was blowing about in the damp wind. I will go visit her, because I would like to spend more time with her, find out about her life and more about my mother.

So it was grand and exciting and we were immensely relieved we didn't have to sit another day. We have new kin and I am not disappointed because I never truly imagined my mother could be alive after all these years. It was an exceptional weekend, an exceptional experience. Perhaps I'll figure out something about myself, about this strange ability to just walk away from people and places. Maybe I'll talk it over with my newfound aunt, a woman who clearly knows much about attachment, when I go see her at home later this summer. Oh, and next year, I'll be at the cemetary placing flowers on the graves of my grandparents, honoring the memory of these good people, reconnecting with a past that was lost to me.

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Blogger evilganome said...

That's terrific Lynette! What a surprise. I can sympathize with the disconnect. I am probably more connected to my daughter and my niece than any of my other relatives. It was a hard childhood and I think makes trust hard earned. I am so happy for you that you've found someone to help reconnect that part of your life.

May 29, 2007 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Joe / Kusala said...

I hope you realize that you are really a marvelous writer. I especially like the way you described the hayloft in the previous installment. Thanks for this -- a wonderful story.

May 29, 2007 5:42 PM  
Blogger Andrea K said...

That's so great that you were able to find these long lost family members. You may never solve the mystery of your mother's disappearance, but you at least will be able to learn more about her from these relatives.

And I know what you and evilganome mean by disconnecting and trust. I'm still amazed I was able to open up and trust my husband as much as I do with all the layers of cynicism and distrust I have when it comes to people. It has to be a self-defense mechanism we learned as children to protect ourselves.

Again, I'm so happy your stakeout was so productive!

May 29, 2007 5:45 PM  
Blogger Beula said...

"Walking away from people and places," I thought it was just me. I am always surprised to find out how deeply people care for me. Hang on to Miss Dorothy, she is a life line. I am happy for you.

May 29, 2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger eric3000 said...

What a wonderful story! And so exciting! Thanks for sharing it with us.

I've often felt that there was something wrong with me because I don't make the same kinds of bonds that other people seem to make. I know I'm not antisocial because I care a great deal about people. But I feel like I care about all people and not just specific ones, if that makes sense. It sounds like you are the same way.

May 29, 2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

What a beautiful connection! I'm so happy for you and I hope it helps to fill in some of the many blanks you've had concerning your mother over the years. Good luck with your newfound "kin." Keep that connection alive and keep us posted on how things are going.

May 29, 2007 6:06 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

happiness can - and did - bring tears.... thank you Lady....

May 29, 2007 6:16 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

What a lovely and magical outcome. Miss Dorothy sounds like a treasure. I hope that you all find solace from your renewed acquaintance and from your reconnection to each other.

May 29, 2007 6:43 PM  
Anonymous tater said...

I am so happy that you were able to connect with these kin. Dorothy sounds like a jewel, and I can't wait to read your future posts regarding you and her. I must, of course echo what Kusala said and say that your writing is marvelous. I always look forward to your story posts, and know there is a book noodling around in that head of yours that is just waiting to be born. I really love what you have to say, and I love even more how you express it in words. You are a very talented woman. I would love to hear more about some of the stories you were relating in your comment on my blog today. Please keep these in mind for a future post?

May 29, 2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

Thank you for sharing. I have been wondering how you spent your weekend, and if you met with success. This is an unexpected, but welcome boon. Being separated from so much of my family (we live all over the world) I can identify with isolation.

The stake out bore fruit, and that is all that counts.

May 29, 2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Kamrin said...

Wow! So cool! I know exactly how you feel since I meet my biological father, by accident, for the first time in my mid-twenties. Now I have relatives. I am glad you had a good outcome!

May 29, 2007 8:25 PM  
Blogger David said...

How remarkable.

I too find that friends come and go in your life. Although I do miss those from my past and wonder what became of them.

May 29, 2007 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Brion said...

phew!! just returned home (4.00pm Wednesday afternoon here in NZ) and the first thing i do? ...of course...check out bigassbelle!
Great news!1 so glad your stakeout was so fruitfull!

big hugs.


May 29, 2007 11:04 PM  
Blogger p.alan said...

I am so glad you found each other. She has thought of you for all these years, and now you've come back into her life. Delightful.

We often don't feel disconnected until we experience moments like these. I know you'll relish this memory and this newly found leg of your family for the rest of your days.

May 29, 2007 11:38 PM  
Blogger farmboyz said...

The only things really lasting in life are dark stains on light carpeting. That's why it's best to get wood floors and roller skates and a quick word in while flying by.

May 30, 2007 5:50 AM  
Anonymous Brion said...

Touche farmboyz! said in jest, surely?

One aspect of commenting from such a distance, physically,...one flick of the switch; instance disconnect!

Until next time.

bye :-) !!


May 30, 2007 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Just thank you.

May 30, 2007 7:30 AM  
Blogger rodger said...

How wonderful for you Lynette. I'm still looking for an Aunt and her four children who disappeared 25 years ago. Our family is very close and finding one who has gone astray would be thrilling. Your finding your Aunt gives me hope.

I wish only good times for you and your newfound family!

May 30, 2007 4:13 PM  
Blogger CEMETARIAN We Dig Memories said...

Miss Linnie Poo..........don't you know by now.....BLOOD is thicker than water..even if it is diluted by multi marriages............I think that translates as "FAMILY is everything"........and family can be anyone you want it to be.

May 30, 2007 5:17 PM  

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