Each day brings me a new and interesting chip, bit or piece of trying to “find” my mother. Although I know where she physically lives (in Arnhem, Holland), I remain on the outside looking in to finding her tangible and meaningful footprints in the fabric of my life.
I had an “aha” moment a couple of weeks ago, thanks to a response from my husband. It might not seem like a mind-blowing revelation to most but for me, something shifted in a positive and more aligned way. Up until that time, I’d been talking about and referring to this new memoir as “a book about my mother”. I’d mentioned this description yet again while talking to my husband about something related to it. He said, “But it’s not really. A book about your mother. It’s similar to what happened with your first book.” My first book, NOT SO BLACK AND WHITE began as a biography about my father but along the way became a journey about growing up with my father, the unique upbringing I’d had with him and a kind of love letter to him. Byron was telling me that this would appear to unravel into a similar journey. “It is more about the relationship you’ve had with your mother and how you have not only learned how to navigate despite her abandonment of you but how you’ve continued to strive despite it.” BOOM! Aha! Yes, that is the story. It is again my story, my memoir. Her story would need to be written by her, especially since there is so much I don’t know. This book is about living with the “elephant” that has been the disappearance of my mother in my life, how I reacted to it, railed against it, ignored it, been privately destroyed at moments by it, irrevocably somewhat broken because of it but determined to survive it. And, as an important sidebar, went on to raise two daughters not having that mother example but have somehow miraculously still managed to create healthy and loving relationships with them.
There will still be plenty of detective work, as I set out to connect dots of genealogy since I know absolutely nothing about her family (my family), seek out others to provide some personal insights and anecdotes about her and scour my own memory bank to extricate more positive recollections about her. All of these things add up to in a sense to “finding” my mother. But more importantly I plan on wrestling with and looking as honestly as possible to my own emotions about what it means to exist in a life with a space never filled and walk with a lifetime of unanswered questions.
I hope you’ll join me as I continue to fill in the puzzle and chronicle the journey! AW
PS If YOU have any mother/daughter stories or insights of your own, please don’t hesitate to share to help create a collective mother/daughter conversation.