“It was just a good day.”


Notes:

They thought it was the best thing for you

The story my mother told me about them was always the same. Your birth parents had just moved here from Korea. They thought they wouldn’t be able to give you the life you deserved. It’s the first story I can recall, one that would shape a hundred others once I was old enough and brave enough to go looking. When I was still young—three or four, I’ve been told—I would crawl into my mother’s lap before asking to hear it. Her arms would have encircled me, solid and strong where I was slight, pale and freckled against my light brown skin. Sometimes, in these half-imagined memories, I picture her in the dress she wore in our only family portrait from this era, lilac with flutter sleeves—an oddly delicate choice for my solid and sensible mother. At that age, a shiny black bowl cut and bangs would have framed my face, a stark contrast to the reddish-brown perm my mother had when I was young; I was no doubt growing out of toddler cuteness by then. But my mom thought I was beautiful. When you think of someone as your gift from God, maybe you can never see them as anything else. How could they give me up?…

Your birth parents were very sad they couldn’t keep you, but they thought adoption was the best thing for you. Even as a child, I knew my line, too. They were right, Mom. 

By the time I was five or six years old, I had heard the tale of my loving, selfless birth parents so many times I could recite it myself. I collected every fact I could, hoarding the sparse and faded glimpses into my past like bright, favorite toys. This may be all you can ever know…

Family lore given to us as children has such hold over us, such staying power. It can form the bedrock of another kind of faith, one to rival any religion, informing our beliefs about ourselves, and our families, and our place in the world. When tiny, traitorous doubts arose, when I felt lost or alone or confused about all the things I couldn’t know, I told myself that something as noble as my birth parents’ sacrifice demanded my trust. My loyalty.

They thought adoption was the best thing for you...

~ Nicole Chung, opening lines to “All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir” (October 2, 2018)

Running in Michigan. With a stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.

71° F. An intermittent breeze blows off Lake Superior.  Upper Michigan…a half step slower in pace, and a full step-and-a-half ahead in balance.  With skies so blue, clouds so white, water and air so clean, you can taste the Pure emblazoned on the license plates on the cars that pass me by.

I run under the bridge which towers overhead. Rail cars roll out on the ore docks.  A massive freighter sits silently waiting for the iron ore pellets to fall down the chutes into its belly. One can’t pass this scene and not be filled with Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of Edmund of Fitzgerald:

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called ‘gitche gumee’
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

I enter Presque Isle Park. I’m hearing horns through my ear buds. Can’t be.  I tuck my earbuds into my pocket and follow the tune. A man, in his 70’s, in a kilt, stands in the woods with his bagpipes – he’s alone and belting out Scotland the Brave. Goosebumps pop on my forearms. I must have Scotland in the gene pool, must have.

Genes. Family history. Family trees. DNA testing. The purpose of this family get-together was to celebrate my Father-in-Law discovering his full Sister on a genetic service. What’s bigger than meeting a sister you never knew you had? [Read more…]

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