At The End

In this dead calm time of year before the year changes, I always find myself sad.  It’s dark, it’s cold, nothing happens.  Everything just waits.

Everything waits for the year to be over.  The year that everyone has grown tired of.  The year that has over stayed it’s welcome.  We want to leave it behind, be done with it, we want closure.

For me, 2009 was a wretched hag of a year.  I won’t mourn it’s passing.  In fact, if I could beat it to death and set it on fire, I would.

So I’ll just wait, with everybody else.  This week will end, and the year with it. Everything passes.

My Father in law, 87, passed away December 22 at Veterans Memorial Hospital following a short illness.  Born in Missouri 1922, He  was survived by a lot of folks who wouldn’t appreciate me mentioning their names.

He  grew up in Missouri, graduated from High School and attended Northeast Missouri State where he played basketball.   He left college at the start of WWII to join the U.S. Marine Corp volunteering for the new Special Forces group- Carlson’s Raiders. He served 4 years with the 2nd Raider Battalion “H” Company battling through the South Pacific seeing action on Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Bougainville and Japan.  After the war he returned to Missouri and married M in 1947.  He completed his college degree, receiving his BS ed. in Industrial Arts and English.  He then completed Refrigeration and Electric school in Kansas City before opening “Refrigeration and Electric” on the south side of the square.  He retired after 40 years in business and during that time he was an active member of the  Volunteer Fire Department, Chamber of Commerce, Masons, and  American Legion Post  and also served several terms as Mayor.

For the past 22 years, he and his wife have been spending the winter in AZ on property his family homesteaded in the 1930’s.  He loved the desert and spent every minute he could there.  He was pleased that his Marine Raiders Buddies were able to come each spring to the desert for a reunion.

A military honors service will be held at the National Cemetery  on January 7, 2010.  A memorial service will also be held on Memorial Day weekend at The Funeral Home.

Something like that will be appearing in next week’s paper.  I did some editing on this version that I share with you.  It’s good that the funeral home writes these things.  Obits never capture who a person was, they just tell you what they did.

He was my husband’s dad.  A good one.  I wish I could thank him for that.


Bert Ballard Speaks

OK, so it’s not like he’s avoiding anyone, or anything.  But I did get a chance to speak (well, exchange e-mails) with Bert Ballard.  He edited PIECES OF ME; WHO DO I WANT TO BE, a new book aimed at adopted teens.

I tried to go beyond the standard “oh I see you have a book out, what makes it so great?” thing with this.  Bert is an international adoptee, writer, perspective adoptive parent, one of the subjects of a documentary on Operation Babylift, and a contributor to Adopted The Comic, among other things, so we had a lot to talk about.

Check it out here….

Grown In My Heart.

Birth Certificate, Death Certificate, Whatever

I just saw the strangest thing.  My adoptive great grandfather’s death certificate.

Death cert.

What’s so strange about that?  He doesn’t share a name with either of his parents.  There is a totally different name at the top of that document.  That’s because he was raised by another family and took their name.

His real parents names are on his death certificate.

I haven’t been able to locate it yet, but I know his real parents names are on his birth certificate.

He was born in 1862.   The story that has come down through the family says that his mother died when he was a toddler and his father could not care for him.  He was taken in and raised by another family.  He took their name and so have all of his descendants.

Years ago a member of the family compiled a book about my adoptive family.  The usual thing with newspaper clippings, charts, amusing stories from the past, etc.  It pulled together all the resources that were so hard to find in the pre-internet age.  She traveled to West Virginia and England to find these things.  All of it was bound up in an impressive looking hardback book that every member of the family bought.

My aunt delivered these books on a holiday, I can’t remember which, but the whole family was gathered.  As we all sat there in my grandparents house looking through the book, commenting on how we were descended from English royalty, my grandfather said something.  Something very telling, “None of it matters, we’re not part of that family, my father was adopted, we’re all Allens. ”

That put a damper on things. Grandpa was never worried about offending, and he was right.  That whole book was bullshit.  We were Allens.   Well, they were Allens, I didn’t have a clue what I was.

I don’t know any more than that about how my grandfather felt about adoption.  It seems that he was well aware of it.  I’m not sure if he made that comment to knock my uppity aunt down a notch, or he really felt like an Allen.  I don’t know how he felt about me either.  I’m not even sure if he ever as much as noticed me.

The fact that Grnadpa knew he was really an Allen means something though.  It wasn’t a big secret.  It was on the documents.  I assume his father talked about it.  There didn’t seem to be any shame involved.

My great grandfather was born in 1862. There was no lying, no secrets, no changing of records.  His adoption was just a fact.  My grandfather was born in 1901, he wasn’t embarrassed about his heritage.  So why was it when I was born in 1965, it was a big  secret?

I really don’t understand why everyone has to insist that my adoptive family is my real family.  Nobody ever did that to my great grandfather.  He was never asked to deny who he really was.

My great-grandfather had a choice.  He could have been an Allen if he wanted to.  No court made that decision for him.  No judge denied his right to know where he came from.

Maybe that’s why he decided to take their name.  They gave him a family without taking his identity.  They didn’t have to change him.  They didn’t have to claim him.  My great-grandfather was allowed to decide who he was.

Even when my grandfather decided to take a different name, he didn’t forget the other one.  Seems like a good compromise to me.  I wish I had been allowed that.

My great-grandfather died as he lived, with the name he decided to take, and the names of his real parents.  I will also die as I live.  My real parents names will not be on my death certificate.

No one will look up my name over 100 years from now and know that I was adopted.  I will live a lie even after my death.

Please tell me how that makes any kind of sense.