Tag Archives: Sandy

Ian

Ian put down the phone after saying goodbye to his mother.  He told her he loved her, but in a mechanical voice with none of the love he felt for his mother, in it..  He had heard the phrase “reeling from shock”  but now he knew just what that meant.

He had trouble picturing his staid and sensible mother as a ‘flower child’ of the “Swinging Sixties”.  And yes, he was having trouble forgiving her for keeping him in the dark about this unknown ‘sister’ for so long.  But of course, he didn’t know the conversations she and his father had about whether or not to tell him about the child.

He had to speak to his father but when he got through to the house in Islington he was told by Julia that Greg was out meeting Sandy.  She said she was a little worried at the anxious tone in Sandy’s voice when she had asked Greg to call her, the phone call from Greg  to say that he would be delayed until after lunch and now this call from Vancouver.  Her mind was running in all directions.  Had there been an accident? Had somebody been hurt?  Was somebody seriously ill?  All these questions and more had been plaguing her since the voicemail message of the day before.  And Greg had been next to useless saying”I don’t know any more than you” and “We’ll find out when I meet Sandy.”  Well at least with this call from Ian she knew that all was well in Vancouver.

Ian didn’t want to discuss this matter with Julia preferring to leave it to his father to decide how much, or how little to tell her. So after a very brief chat on how the boys were getting on and whether she and Greg would visit that summer he hung up after asking her to have his father call him as soon as he arrived home.

He was a very sensible young man and had always  been known for his calm manner and the way he had of seeing his way through problems.  People trusted him and went to him for help.  But this was totally outside his ken.  His eyes, so like his mother’s, showed how worried he was.

Then after putting down the phone he saw Val looking at him waiting for some answers.  After telling her his father would call him later, they sat down to discuss this turn of events in their lives.  For the first time, Tony doubted the wisdom of packing up and moving the family to Canada.  He even thought that if Sandy had come with them this Barbara person would have found it almost impossible to track her down.  Canada was so big and such a long way away from London. They had asked Sandy to move with them but were secretly pleased when she had decided to stay in London.

“Will you have to go to London to meet this Barbara?” asked Val.  “Your mother might need some family support”.  “Probably not immediately” replied Ian “Father is there and will always be ready to support her in any way.  Aren’t we lucky that it was such an amicable divorce?  Imagine how awful this would be if they weren’t speaking to each other and mother was on her own.”

For the next couple of hours they kept coming back to the subject, trying to imagine how Sandy was feeling now that this event from her past had come to light after so many years..  No doubt she had blocked that time from her memory – but how?  How had she lived with this secret for so long?  Only Sandy could answer that.

So Ian waited for his father to call. He looked around this bright spacious home and compared it to the garden flat his mother lived in.  There was nothing wrong with her flat but it certainly lacked the space he enjoyed and the lack of sunshine was a big drawback.  But she seemed to be happy with her life.

Meanwhile, back in Hackney Sandy was working out the words for the next email to Barbara.

In time of test, family is best. ~Burmese Proverb

 

 

Trusted Advice

The call to Ian was without a doubt the hardest phone call she had ever made.

After the initial pleasantries were over Sandy launched into her story.  She blurted it out quickly.  How she had left her family home to go into the big City – London.  And how she had met with a group of people who quickly became her ‘friends’.  It was more difficult to explain her being involved in free love and then eventually becoming pregnant.

It became easier to tell about meeting the priest and the subsequent stay in the “unmarried mothers home” followed by the adoption.  As Ian tried to interrupt with questions, she ignored him and went on with her story.  Culminating with the meeting on Saturday that followed on receiving the initial email.

Having told him all that, she sat back in her chair absolutely emotionally wrung out. She felt exhausted, as if she had run a mile.  And now it was time to answer her son’s questions.

At first there was no voice at the other end of the line.  “Are you still there darling” Sandy asked.  ‘Yes Mother” came the deep voice of her son, that was now faintly tinged with a Canadian accent.  He then asked the expected questions.  How long ago?; Who was the father?; Had she never tried to find out what happened to the child?; Did his father know about this before they married; What was his father’s reaction?

She answered these questions as well as she could but in a very timid voice quite unlike her usual voice.  And then Val, Ian’s wife came on the phone wanting to know whether the woman had children; was she married; what was Sandy going to do now.  

And Sandy realised there were even more questions that Barbara had either left unanswered or skillfully evaded.

The phone call ended with love from both sides and promises to be in touch again soon.  Sandy said that she would call again once she’d had another meeting with Barbara.

The first hurdle over.  Now to meet with her ex. She had arranged to meet him at their local pub.  She prepared carefully, taking care over her dress and her makeup.  Greg had always been conscious of the way she looked.

As soon as she entered the saloon bar she saw him sitting at a table by the window with an open newspaper at his side and beer and a white wine in front of him.  He had seen her drive up and so was up on his feet as she entered the room.  The smile on his face told her he was happy to see her and the welcome in his eyes told her she would always love this man even though she couldn’t live with him.

They embraced as friends and sat down.  After the usual small talk “How are you?” What have you been doing?” etc he then asked her why she had wanted to see him.  So she filled him in with all the happenings of the previous week, starting with the initial email, through to the meeting the day before.  She told him of her delight at meeting the young woman and how she was convinced that it really was her daughter.  But she also told him her concerns about the unanswered questions.  Where did she live, how and with whom?

Of course, his first question was had she told Ian?  She told him of the phone call and the questions raised by both Ian and his wife, Val and their promises to be in touch again soon.

Greg, her ex, decided that they needed more time than that for just a pre-lunch drink and suggested lunch.  She readily accepted and he went off to tell his partner where he was and what he was doing.  The split between Sandy and Greg had been amicable and when he became involved with Julia she was naturally introduced to Sandy.  So there would be no problem with his having lunch with Sandy.

They ordered from the bar menu so that they could continue sitting at their table and talking over the situation.  Greg felt it important that before meeting Barbara again Sandy should get answers to the questions she had.  They talked round and round this subject until it was eventually agreed that Sandy send an email to Barbara telling her how happy she was to have met her and also asking the questions.  Once she had these answers Sandy would meet Barbara again, with Cathy if she were agreeable, and get to know her a little more.  Sandy felt very relieved that another person was helping her make decisions.

They then talked of more mundane things, work, their grandsons in Vancouver and how well they were doing, when, if ever, Ian would return to England, when Sandy planned to visit Canada again, etc etc.

So it was with a much lighter heart that Sandy left the pub on that sunny winter afternoon.  She drove home with a smile on her face, singing along with the radio much to the amusement of the young men in the car next to her at the lights.

Tomorrow, she thought, was another day….

“Trust your instincts, and make judgments on what
your heart tells you.

The heart will not betray you.”
― David Gemmell, Fall of Kings

Related :
A Pregnant Pause; Looking for Answers; Decisions Made;
Saturday’s Meeting
; Opening the Box

 

 

 

Opening the Box

On the way home Sandy and Cathy discussed the meeting with Barbara.  “Well I think that went well, don’t you?” Cathy asked. As Sandy didn’t respond immediately she looked over to her.

“Is everything alright?” she asked.  “Is something bothering you?”.

“I’m probably just being silly but I wonder why she didn’t tell us where she was living.  We heard a lot about the house in which she was brought up but nothing about where she lives now”.  Sandy worried.  She thought it strange that Barbara had omitted this from the discussion.  Also when asked what she did for a living, Barbara had quickly and effortlessly it seemed, changed the subject.  So what was she hiding?

When they arrived at Sandy’s house it was agreed that they would meet again in a couple of days so that Sandy could get her head around what she had learned and where she wanted to go from here.  She had so many decisions to make but the main one was when and who to tell of this new development.

She went inside and hung her coat on the hall stand.  She stood looking at the stand for a while.  It had always been part of her life it seemed.  It had stood in the hall all through her growing up years.  She could remember her father standing in front of it, adjusting his hat and tie before going out for a drink with his friends.  Her mother always put on the bright red lipstick there and she always looked in the mirror to check her hair before opening the front door.  Then when Sandy’s mother had to move into the retirement home, the hall stand came to live in Sandy’s hall.

But delving into these memories was only a way to put off making some decisions.

Of course, Ian her son would have to be told before anyone else.  Though goodness knows how he would react to this side of his mother about which he knew absolutely nothing.  And what of Val his wife?  How would she react to a mother-in-law who had a child before she was married and had given it up for adoption?

Sandy had never talked to her son about her life before she met his father, and certainly had never told him how she had been involved in the Swinging Sixties.  Oh he knew about that era – who didn’t, but how would he feel about his mother having been part of it?  Questions that could only be answered by calling him.

 She checked the time in Vancouver and was pleased to see it was only 6am there and so far too early to make a call.  So she could put that call off for several hours.  Perhaps after the boys had finished sport and the family had lunch would be a good time to call.  But would any time be a good time?

So that decision made, she called her ex husband.  Unfortunately, Saturday afternoon and he was out,  Probably at the football which was his passion.  West Ham was his team and they were playing at home to Arsenal.  He wouldn’t miss that. 

So she left a message on voice mail for him to call her when he got in.  She thought she would suggest they meet for a pre lunch drink at the local pub tomorrow, Sunday.  It would be easier telling him about Barbara face to face.

Now who else would she have to tell?  Her mother was in a retirement centre drifting in and out of dementia.  Should she even tell her?  It was so long ago and it would probably disturb her.  No.  That decision was easily made. She wouldn’t mention the meeting when next she saw her mother.

So who else to tell.  Her bridge friends – no, they were more acquaintances than friends although they did she each other each week and exchanged tidbits about their lives.  And if/when it came out, as it obviously would, they would be hurt that she hadn’t told them. 

So she decided to make a list.  Always making lists was Sandy.  She was methodical and said that once she saw the scope or scale of a chore written down in list form, she could get her head around it.

So Ian, her son was at the top of the list, followed by her ex-husband, her bridge friends, Grace her next door neighbour with whom she was quite friendly and of course, her closest friend Julia would have to be told.

But none of these other calls would be made until after she had spoken to her son and her ex-husband.

The question of what Barbara was hiding would have to wait for another day.

“You can’t make decisions based on fear and
the possibility of what might happen.”
― Michelle Obama

 

Saturday’s Meeting

Sandy hardly slept on Friday night. She kept thinking of the next day, what she would say, what Barbara would say and of course, what would she wear.  She was keen to appear to be a woman in charge of herself when she met this young woman and dressing well would help her feel in charge as well as appearing so.  Women will understand this.

She was ready a couple of hours before she had to leave.  Cathy was to pick her up at 11.30 and drive her to the mall.  Sandy was very pleased they had made this decision; she didn’t think she would be fit to drive today.  Lack of sleep, a strong black coffee and no breakfast were working their mayhem. She wandered around the house, tidying where there was no need, straightening the cushions and polishing the kitchen benches.  Mindless things to fill up the time until Cathy arrived.

Sandy was out of the door before the car had stopped.  Cathy of course, was very calm and attempted to calm Sandy.  She spoke quietly encouraging Sandy.  They spoke only of the coming meeting and how it might work out.  Then they were at the mall and parking the car.  With a hug Cathy helped Sandy out of the car and they went towards the coffee shop.

Sandy looked around and immediately spotted the young woman from the photograph she had sent.  They made their way to the table.  The young woman jumped up to hug Cathy only to be told that was the wrong woman.  Of course, she hadn’t received a photograph and made an assumption.

Laughter and apologies over the mistake and the three women sat down.  Coffee was ordered and the questions started.  So many questions from Sandy and as many from Barbara.  Sandy of course was trying to determine whether she could be this young woman’s mother.  Barbara said that since she had communicated with Sandy she had questioned her parents more about the adoption and now knew about the home, where it was and abut the priest who had introduced Sandy to the people who ran the home.

She told Sandy about her life with her adoptive parents whom she called Mum and Dad.  They had no other children and were very good to her.  Even though she had no siblings she was part of a large extended family; many aunts, uncles and cousins.  Life had been good to her.

When asked why she decided to track down her mother, she said it had been something she had thought about for several years but only recently had discussed it with her parents.  They encouraged her and in fact it was her father who had suggested that they should see if the house was still there performing the same function.  The three of them went together having made an appointment to speak to the woman in charge.  Of course, after so many years it wasn’t the same woman and she had no knowledge of Sandy.  However, she promised to do some investigating and let them know what if anything she found out.

Several weeks later, after they had given up any hope of hearing from her, they received a letter giving them the name and location of the priest and also her birth mother’s name.  Then it was up to them to trace her.

After several more attempts they were successful and here they were.

Sandy was overjoyed as was Barbara.  They talked and laughed together, beginning to get to know each other.  Then it was time to leave.  They promised to keep in touch.  Sandy still had some decisions to make about telling her son, her friends and her estranged husband would also have to be told.

They hugged for a final time and all left the coffee shop, Sandy and Cathy going to Cathy’s car and Barbara moving off in the other direction.  Once in the car it occured to Sandy that Barbara hadn’t told them where she lived and how…..

 

 

Decisions Made

“Life is what we make it,
always has been,

always will be.”
Grandma Moses

The email elicited an immediate response.  The woman whose name was Barbara sent details of her birth date and her adoptive parents.  She knew that she had been born to an unmarried mother and thought that was in a home caring for pregnant girls.  But she didn’t know exactly where this home was.  She also attached several photographs one of her as a toddler in the arms of a man with a woman looking on with a loving smile.  A really happy family snapshot.  Another showed her as a teenager and the third showed her as a young woman in her early twenties, with a serious look in her eye.  Sandy could see no resemblance to herself but then as she had no idea who the father of this child was maybe the resemblance was more towards him.

She printed out the email and hurried round to share the news with Cathy at the Resource Centre.  Cathy was delighted to see her and to know how swiftly Barbara had responded.  They talked about how to proceed from here.  It was decided that Sandy and Cathy would meet Barbara at a local coffee shop rather than at Sandy’s house.  They thought it better to meet on neutral grounds in case things did not go well.  It was further decided that Sandy should go home, write an email suggesting they meet at the weekend in the coffee shop at the local mall.  After all she didn’t know where Barbara was living, if she worked through the week or even if she had some other responsibilities.  Really she knew so little about the girl.

So another email was sent setting a time and place and even though Sandy now had a photograph she was concerned she wouldn’t recognise the young woman.  A suggestion was made that she carry a certain magazine under her arm as she entered the cafe.  Very cloak and dagger; almost like a thriller.

Another email received accepting the arrangement and concluding with the sentence that she, Barbara, was looking forward to meeting Sandy on the following Saturday.  Sandy advised Cathy of the arrangement and then settled down with her thoughts of what she might have set in train.

If this person were her daughter then she would have to advise her son of her existence and some of her close friends would also need to know, but she could leave all that until she was convinced that Barbara was indeed her long lost daughter.

Saturday loomed large in her thoughts over the next few days – far off but also very  close.  Sandy wasn’t sure how she would feel when she met Barbara and how she would cope if it turned out that this was her daughter. And what if it wasn’t?  Would she have raked up her past for nothing.  But whatever came of it, she now had a new very real friend in Cathy.  A friend in whom she could confide.  She made another decision that whatever the outcome of Saturday’s meeting was, she would offer to volunteer at the Centre.  She had the time and the energy; surely Cathy could find something useful for her to do.

 

Looking for Answers

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud became more
painful 
than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin, Author 1903-1977

A few days ago we left Sandy pondering on the dilemma of whether to agree to meet a young woman claiming or asking if she could be, her lost daughter.

Sandy had given her child for adoption many years ago and had heard nothing about her from that time until she received an email asking whether she could be the mother of this unknown woman.  Now….

Sandy awoke the next morning with no answers and no closer to making a decision as to whether or not she should agree to meet the woman.  What if she met her and they took an instant dislike to each other; then old wounds would have been opened for nothing.  What if it was a trick and how had this woman tracked her down anyway.  She had spent a sleepless night with these thoughts worrying around in her head.

But what to do?  She remembered having met an ex Nun at the Women’s Resource Centre when she had dropped off some clothes that no longer fit her.  She had a long talk with the  ex Nun, Cathy and discussed maybe volunteering at the Centre.  Perhaps she would be a person to whom she could talk.

She quickly finished her breakfast and set off for the Women’s Centre before she could change her mind.  When she arrived she found that Cathy, the Nun, was in the office and appeared pleased to see Sandy again.  She readily agreed to speak with her in private but was surprised that it wasn’t about volunteering that Sandy had come to see her.

She listened without interruption to the story at the end of which she sat back and thought before making any comment.  The first thing Cathy asked was whether Sandy was prepared for the past be be brought to life.  If this was her daughter then her son and his family would have to know as would her friends.  Was she ready for this?

Of course,this was one of the many questions that kept Sandy awake through the night.  How would her son react to the fact that his mother had a child with another man and had her adopted.  She had no answer to that.

If she was prepared for all this to happen then Cathy suggested she respond to the email asking for birth dates and any information the young woman had about her birth.  Perhaps she knew of the home where she had been born.  Cathy also suggested asking for a photo so that any likeness could be recognised.  Sandy agreed to this and said she would send the response as soon as she got home.

As she was preparing to leave, Cathy made her an offer to accompany Sandy to a meeting if one was to happen.  Sandy felt so much better for this offer and thanked the ex Nun profusely.  She left the Centre with a much lighter heart and with a plan on how to move forward.