Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Face to Face, Finally

SistersI did Match .com dating for years. Interminable years. I can't tell you the number of awful first, and even second, dates. Just awful.

How different was the promise of Debbie's and my meeting from the promise of those dates? Not much!

But we had the knowledge of a pre-established relationship. I had seen her original birth certificate. She had seen our mother's signature relinquishing me for adoption. Even though our DNA tests suggested we might be first cousins, we knew we were sisters.

We found each other on April 5, 2016. We texted frequently and within two weeks I offered to fly out to Arizona from Northeast Ohio to meet her. We met face-to-face on May 6, 2016. We motherless daughters spent Mother's Day weekend.

[Ironically, my adoptive mother chose May 3, 2016, four weeks before her 103rd birthday, to die. Doors close, doors open.]

This visit could have gone oh-so-poorly. As I was flying out on Friday, I remembered a Match date where I drove from Tucson to El Paso to spend time with a man I had met in person once before. When I walked into his home, I saw a thick coating of dust on every surface, and an unscooped litterbox still on the floor in the dining room, even though his cat had died a year earlier. A wise woman would have turned around and walked out. I was not wise; I was lonely.

While I tried to imagine what awaited me in Kingman, I visited every dark corner of my mind. But reality trumped fear.

Debbie and her oldest child, Cindy, share a home. They live a very quiet life. They both have health issues and serve as each other's devoted caretakers. The home is immaculate. There's not a speck of dust, a clutter of anything. A harsh word is not spoken. A raised voice is never heard. Their living room sliding glass door looks out on a patio and desert-landscaped backyard with flowering plants in pots, a porch swing, and mourning doves and Gambrell's quails vying for the food and water which she supplies for them. The walls of each room are adorned with framed family photos. This is the home of a mother who has raised her children to respect and love each other.

In a word: peace.

Here I will share with you the nutshell report I posted on Facebook while waiting for my early morning flight home from Vegas:

I know many of you are wondering, so I'll give you a brief report here: My lovely new sister, Debbie Davis, and I had a wonderful weekend together. We had lots of quiet time in her home in Kingman, AZ, trading stories and filling in the holes of 65 lost years. Her daughter, Cindy, lives with her, and younger daughter, Cathy, drive up from OC to join us for the Mother's Day weekend. We had lunch out on Saturday, with thanks to the nice young (I think) Australian man who looked at us like we were crazy but complied when we asked him to come over and take our picture. Later on, an enjoyable and educational visit to the Keepers of the Wild wildlife refuge, which required a drive along historic Route 66. Sunday morning Debbie and I drove up into the mountains south of Kingman to the Hualapi Lodge for brunch. There was not a moment of discord or disagreement. We both have dealt with the adoption syndrome of "who am I" our whole lives. Now we look at each other and shake our heads as we realize we're finally related to someone.

It was a wonderful weekend, and we're already looking forward to the next visit.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and for following our life-changing story.

Debbie's daughters are kind, thoughtful, and generous-of-spirit fifty-something women. Their love for and tenderness toward their mother is touching.

(Debbie's son, Bill, lives south of Boston and called on Saturday to arrange to pick up the tab for his sisters' lunch and Debbie's and my brunch on Sunday.)

This is clearly a family that loves each other.

And Debbie and I count ourselves among the truly lucky to have met each other, to have so much in common, and to find such a seamless merging of our lives.

I've been rejected, multiple times–by my birthmother at my birth; by my adoptive mother by her insistence to prove to me how unloveable and unacceptable I was; by my first husband by his (I believe) insecurity-fueled need to show me how far superior he was to me in every facet of my life; and by my birthmother again when I found her and she chose not to rock the boat of her life.

I know rejection. What I experienced from Debbie last weekend was not rejection. It was total and complete and loving acceptance. Someone was finally thrilled to know me.

I am the luckiest.

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