Puppy in a Box

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Or ‘Emotional Roller Coaster’

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It’s been an odd month. I’ve deleted and resurrected this post three times, trying to wrap my head around recent events…

 

Not sure where to start, so it will begin where I did: California in 1956. Young woman becomes pregnant with spawn of cad and a couple takes the baby girl (me) at birth. Young woman then marries and a couple of years later has another little girl, which she keeps.

I’m the puppy in the box, the one she gave away.

I’ve known my adopted status for most of my life and have felt every emotion you might expect.. especially gratitude for having the parents I did, even though everything wasn’t always perfect.

Well, not long after I found my half-sister on Ancestry, I also discovered a picture of my birth mother. Taken in December 2015, she is standing next to my half-sister and they’re both smiling.

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Lady

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I’ve been thinking about Mrs. Strauss.

Margaret Strauss was a intelligent woman with common sense and a spartan style in both speech and design.
A formidable force in my narrow young world, her friends called her ‘Lady’,a gift from her Papa after the early demise of her mother.  She carried that name throughout her life but I never called her anything but Mrs. Strauss, no matter how old we both became.

She and I first became acquainted when my mother went to work at her daycare center.  Childless, widowed, a retired school teacher as well as former legal secretary, she decided to open a daycare where children would be properly cared for as well as started on the right road to learning.  Forever into a project, She purchased and renovated a house across from the local grade school for her dream of the perfect early learning environment. She also lived in the house directly behind the school, her way of being close .  The whole deal was revolutionary in our small Texas town and quickly drew many parents wanting an alternative to the norm of daycare as they knew it.
The Carousel Child Care Center was open for many years, but I think ultimately she lost too much money just trying to do it right.
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Down the Rabbit Hole

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I’ve been researching my heritage… well, nearly all of my almost 60 years. Being adopted means being loved… but also facing a blank wall as far as ancestors go. Who were they? WHERE were they??

I always assumed mine had to be bank robbers and horse thieves.rabbit

Well, thank goodness for Ancestry. The DNA testing found my half-sister (she hasn’t been back to the site since October, so doesn’t know I messaged her in return. I wish the service would email if there’s a message!) and from there my family tree started, buoyed by other member’s family trees and documents.

I now know my father’s name, and surprise!, I’m not a bastard. My mom married him. Briefly.

And so far, through my maternal grandmother’s branch of the tree, I’ve been able to go as far back as Ireland, 1599. Now… I have to go over all this a million times before I really believe it… but the magnitude of it is kicking my butt. I have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, the War of 1812, WWI and WWII. The phrase ‘Fighting Irish’ now holds new meaning.

Not horse thieves, this clan – O’Rourke – seemed to be leaders instead of wastrels.

Of course, other branches have led back to England. Nothing yet from Scandinavia, but maybe that’s my father’s side.

Here’s where the going gets sticky… a few times in documents I’ve read that my ancestors owned slaves. It was a kick in the gut. Seriously; one woman being willed to a surviving wife was called a ‘negro wench’ and upon reading that my lunch nearly came up.

No, I’ll not be paying reparations. No, I don’t feel guilty; I’ve never owned slaves and it’s been a damn long time since my family has. But it did put a damper on the joy of finally having a family tree.

 

Gratitude

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I’d intended this be titled “Love and Marriage”. Pretty trite, but upon waking at 3:00a that’s what popped into my mind. Along with: had I left the laptop bag in the back of the truck? So of course I did a somersault across Bree’s bed (which sits on the floor next to my side of the bed because that’s where she likes it) and ran into the living room to look… and of course there it sat.

And there was one of the points I’d hoped to make, illustrated. I don’t think men vault out of bed in the wee hours because something might not have been where it should – but I’ve done it innumerable times. They tend to stress about concrete things, whereas women can simultaneously worry about the concrete and the abstract. We draw things out, you see, to every logical -and illogical – conclusion. And it doesn’t even have to be about ourselves, husbands or our children. Friends, co-workers. What might be; what never will be but mightn’t it, in a perfect world?

Of course worry never changes anything and it only robs us of joy. Matthew 6:34!

This is not about worry; it’s supposed to be about marriage and the things that get you through, whether you’re conscious of them or not. Mike and I tied the knot 23 years ago at the courthouse in Homestead, Florida. Neither one of us were certain it was a good idea, but we were living together and he had a daughter in school, so. Did I love him more for the paper? Maybe. It felt different, anyway. More solid.

These are what I have come to know are needed in (my) marriage:

The first thing is respect. No, love is not the first. Love is a given. If you’re married you should love your spouse.  Holding your mate in high esteem is a wholly different thing, which should come with love but sometimes doesn’t. Respect for your spouse’s abilities, personal space, dreams, family and friends is a must. If your significant other doesn’t feel your admiration, then how can there be true love?

Humility. A tough one to learn, but I think it gets easier over time. Or harder.It is simply putting others needs first. Most mothers have mastered this, at least mine did.

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Gratitude. The best of these; the most powerful. It’s my crutch, my way out at the worst of times and a path to peace… but I have trouble explaining it. I am thankful, no matter what. Thankful for the chance to know and love Mike, our life together. Every day I thank God for this life. Whatever comes, I pray that I can continue to be grateful.

Will I Make It?

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Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ll make it out of Florida alive.

A new biopsy just came back as Basal Cell so there’s another MOHS surgery in the near future… and they want to dig a larger hole in my left foot… on a pre-cancerous spot.

This will be my second MOHS this year. The cancers are plentiful and aggressive… how long before the big one hits?? I’ve never known anyone who had these, especially so many. This can’t be normal.

Just… thank God the spot on my foot wasn’t the big M.  Thank God.

I want to cry. That’s probably an appropriate response to such news. I’ll be in my blanket fort if you need me.

Just dropping this here, because it’s a good thing to remember…

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Live and Learn

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Still yourselves and listen, chirruns, to the wisdom from a soon to be 59 year old crone…

Old women just know things.

Or is it because they’ve been there, done that?

This particular old woman liked the sun when she was young. Practically lived by the pool and at the beach. OH and there was much work to do on the farm…none of it inside the house. The long horseback rides… and I loved being slightly burnt. That radioactive glow really gave me a kick.

Though my memory isn’t what it should be, nobody ever mentioned SPF anything.

But then I could be passing the buck.

This was my fourth MOHS surgery. Whenever the dermatologist finds something on my pale skin that looks not quite right, he biopsies it.  When cancer shows up I go back in for the MOHS.

During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. Mayo Clinic.

They’ve been a year apart lately. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished my Viking/Celtic ancestors had been black or olive skinned instead.

Passing the buck again.  Story of my life.

Anyway, there is a moral to this story and I’m sure you get it. If you don’t, at least I and that waiting room full of fellow tanned crones sure do.