Adoption, Aristotle, Bob, Feast of Beltane, Florida, Gail, Jane Ann McLachlan, Japan, Korea, Lemony Snicket, Mary Wollstonecraft, May Day, Missouri, October Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge, OM &BCC, Paris, Pauline, Sharon, Southernmost Illinois, Tom, Vienna
And so it begins, needles and pins
Once upon a time in a hamlet in Southernmost Illinois, there lived a fair-haired handsome man who had not lost his boyish grin nor his adoring attachment to his widowed mother. Having left the Navy at the report of his father’s sudden death, the good son saw to the family farm and his mother’s welfare.
One day a dark and beautiful lady came to stay in the town nearby. She had just divorced, an uncommon thing in those times, and had with her two small children, a boy and a girl. She took up residence in town, although she had much kin in the surrounding hamlets and farmlands. She procured a job at the downtown five and dime’s soda fountain where her charms were admired by all…including the fair-haired handsome man.
Their courtship lasted through balmy summer days, but was abruptly ended when they were pulled asunder by well-meaning town folk full of concern and consternation regarding the reputation of the widowed mother if the son were to be wooed by such a dark beauty as a divorcée with children by another. Some whispered that her looks were a tad too dark and rumored that their was evidence of Injun blood. And so the rumors begin to swarm adding flights of fancy to fact. This served to turn the man’s affection as the heat of summer baked the earth dry. And harvest chores consumed his days and into his nights.
Three barns he did fill with clover. It was a bountiful fall harvest and his thoughts turned again to celebrations and his longing for the dark beauty. And they did reunite for a time under the moon and star lit sky, they pondered their feelings and future amid barns filled to brim with sweet clover. Upon their separation few hours had passed when all alarms were sounded. Those barns were ablaze. All was lost of harvest and buildings, total. The cause of the blaze threw suspicion on jealous kith and kin. Old jealousies resumed the righteous fight.
I heard this told from sources, two, who had no time to corroborate their tales specifically for my then grown ears. My mother said, “Clover is common to spontaneously combust if put up too wet.” My father’s attribution a bit more romantic. “You came upon us of friction, fire and light.”
It shortly came to pass that the handsome man had need to take his widowed mother to town for ill she had grown. With much concern and greatest of care being the good son that he was eager to be, he delivered his mother to the very same doctor unbeknownst that the dark beauty was seeing for an irregularity of sorts that turned out to be me. So within the very same space and hour, the handsome man’s life turned tumult. His beloved mother the widow had a fast-moving inoperable cancer. As mother’s death was predicted to be swift but filled with agony and pain, the dark beauty left to stay with relations away from wagging tongues of well-meaning folk.
The beginning is always today.
Nine Months Later
The narrative above is information I had no knowledge of until I was around 30. Not only were my biological…or real…or birth…let’s face; it these terms are at best unfortunate, not to mention confusing. Since I was old enough to have individual relationships with all of my parents, I have taken up the habit of calling them by their first names. Otherwise, I feel the need to carry a diagram of relations of the sort that are appended onto those classic Russian novels. Not only were Tom and Shirley in agreement to the above account…eerily similar as if they were reading from a script, but others have told me similar enough account for me to have faith in its veracity. Can’t make such a claim to what follows. Many differing and conflicting accounts exist for my first year of life. Let me convey the highlights to the best of my knowledge and ability and brevity.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
1961: A Brief Run Thru Events
Tom’s mom dies of colon cancer. Shirley’s sister Gail comes home from Japan to help out taking a job as a music teacher while they stay at their uncle’s farm in rural Missouri. Tom continues to send Shirley money to help out.
I arrive in this world at noon hours after the full moon of Beltane on May Day. Gail told me my whole life that she knew the first moment she saw me that I was hers. She said that she felt love for something for the first time. Much fact checking is needed in the particulars here because the versions are so at odds and contentious. Some accounts give me three birth certificates in one day (my best guess is that there were, fact two that day and one issued with the adoption in September) The sum of $1000 may or may not have been offered to the attending physician to put different names under the mother and father categories.
A car trip that eventually includes Bob, Gail’s husband of a year and a half covering nine states. The nine states is part of a retelling of the tale as a sort of nursery rhymed version to me as a child. As in, “what an adventurer I was to have been to 9 different states before I was even 6 months old.” In Florida, Bob gets to see his 11 year old daughter, Sharon. Had he seen her since she was born? This is where numbers start to not add up. How can Sharon have been dropped off and abandoned by her mother as a baby when Bob was in a M*A*S*H until in Korea and yet Bob was supposedly stationed 13 years in Japan? At 11 Sharon got to be my au pair, so she came along for the ride up to Baltimore. Bob had French Army Language classes for the new assignment to Paris.
Tom marries Pauline whom he had met 6 weeks earlier. Easy to jump to judgment here, but in fact, Pauline and I were pretty darn close. She was an extraordinarily kind woman. Life turns out rather complicated that way. Shirley is said to have become severely depressed.
Plans for Gail, Sharon and me to accompany Bob to Paris (if in fact they ever existed) fall through. Gail gets a job at Vienna High School where she is one of two new teachers that fall…Yep, you guessed it. Gail taught English, and Pauline taught home economics.
Officially adopted by Bob and Gail. I live on a farm sandwiched between my aunt and my grandparent on Old Metropolis Road with Gail and Sharon. The farm is known commonly as Doc’s Place.
The Burning Question
The answer is yes. Not only did the barns go up in flames shortly after my conception, but the hospital followed suit after I was born. People’s Hospital of Poplar Bluff, Missouri no longer exists. Full moon Feast of Beltane is a cleansing through fire. That is the archaic meaning of May Day.
And so it begins. This is Day #1 of the October Memoir & Backstory Blog Challenge (OM & BBC) being hosted by Jane Ann McLachlan on her blog Join the Conversation. You can track my progress on this and other October Challenges by visiting my Up & Coming page. Do you have auspicious beginnings? There is a belief in some cultures (astrologically-based) that the events surrounding the child’s birth imprint on the family and friends psyche to be unconsciously associated with them forever. Have you witnessed this? Leave us your thoughts.