After 20 years being reunited with my first families, you would think I would have known it all and seen it all by now...
Oh no, it sometimes feels like starting over every day (ever see "Ground Hog Day"?) ~ in building relationships, in mentally and emotionally processing this healing balm of time spent with my family in my soul and identity, and learning more and more about my families of origin and myself. It comes in waves of waxing and waning periods of time...but, oh thank God, it still comes.
Last night was amazing
. I got to meet a cousin of my First Mother who I had never met before. She flew in from Tucson and my Uncle had a mini family-reunion at his home for all of us...
Susan is just a few years older than my First Mother would be and she remembers so much about the family history and times with Norma Carol. It was the closest I've come to knowing what it might have actually felt like to meet my own Mother. Amazing.
Imagine my surprise when first entering the house and seeing a woman who resembles me in so many ways. Body type, heighth, hair color, hair cut, smile, and more. Everyone had told me that I resemble her even more than my First Mother's younger sister, my Aunt Patty, but I couldn't believe it until I saw her. And I felt such a strong connection. We sat ubber-close, side-by-side on the couch all night just pouring through family albums and soaking it all in. It felt wonderful to be so close to her, feeling her warm arm touch mine, comfortable, familiar and loved. Home.
She talked of the "Price" attributes of strong independence in living and thinking. We originated from the Valentine Price/William Hampton Price and Victoria Smalley genealogical lines (Welsh and Scotch) and it was so wonderful to soak in the history and personality in these black and white pictures of so long ago ~ of my people.
Susan's father, Frank Price, was my grandmother Carolyn's brother and they had four other siblings. They grew up in Evening Shade, Arkansas where they still have family reunions to this day. Great-Aunt Vera became the first woman to pass the bar in Arkansas, and Sarah became the youngest teacher in the state, when they asked her to begin teaching at the little one-room schoolhouse at the age of 15. How interesting! So many stories of the heritage I came from. I sat in wonder listening to this and feeling more and more validated with each word. I finally know where I get this independent streak. My families of origin are amazing ~ So thankful.
This whole weekend has been jam-packed with activity and revelation, and wonderful time spent with family. The night before we took my Mom (adoptive) to the Old West Day in Sperry, OK where she was born (near Turley) to enjoy an awesome band of western swing and old Bob Wills songs (her favorite). "Take Me Back to Tulsa, I'm too young to marry" was so fun to dance to with my five year old. lol And even more fun was riding (being zig-zagged back and forth) in the "barrel-train" through the downtown streets by a four-wheeler! So fun. And it was wonderful to see my Mom enjoying it and reliving old memories of her youth.
I have to admit, though, the inner conflict I deal with every year on Memorial Day. Since I was a toddler, we've made the annual trip to the Sperry Cemetary to put flowers on the graves of my Mom's relatives who I never met. I've heard stories all my life of these "relatives" but have never felt a connection to them. As a teenager and beyond I even dreaded going. I think it reinforced the "differentness" I had to process as an adopted person in an adoptive family, and it was conflicting and uncomfortable. Still is. I am so wanting to visit the graves of my family of birth now and be able to spend time honoring them and the heritage I have gradually acknowledged over these years. The history I now have with them. The losses of my grandparents, who I was amazingly blessed to know, on both sides. All sides.
I took a very special picture of my son putting flowers on the Shepard grave in Sperry. This is the genealogical line my adoptive family came from, and it is such a special name to me, because it reinforces the comfort of knowing the Lord has always taken care of me and has truly been my Shepard.
Through the tears I've cried and those I was too numb to shed over the years...
...Finding my family of birth in my early 20's and being hit with the news my first Mother died while searching for me. Then nursing my adoptive Mom when she was diagnosed with the same disease that took my first Mother's life. Talk about hard years.
The amazing 20 years I've now had with my first families. The ability to embrace them AND my adoptive family so much more now, because I gave myself permission to grieve being adopted and embrace the pain of it, so I could also feel the joy and connection I so needed with family.
God has led me every step of the way even when it felt like I was walking in the dark. He has been my Light. Thank you, Lord, for being my Shepard. I have everything I need.