When confronted to give a straight answer to some of my questions, I can see now that my father seemed to have had bits of truth strewn in for good measure. I knew that one of dad’s children from his first marriage had to be adopted because public records showed his daughter and son were only 5 months apart in age. My niece was able to confirm that actually both of his children were adopted at birth. I kept thinking back to when I had asked my father about the young woman that came to grandpa’s door and his heartless response, “Oh, she was just adopted.” An insulting mind-set considering I was too, if that’s really how he felt. I don’t believe so. My niece’s grandmother (my father’s first wife) had painted for her granddaughter a more gentle-caring side of a man who must have truly loved his other daughter. Although, it was such a bitter-sweet glimpse of a father-daughter love, I knew they had shared a more intimate, stronger bond than dad and I ever did. Theirs started on the day she was born.
As my niece was retelling me the poignant story about her mother’s beginnings, I was sad for the woman that had given birth to her daughter as well, in having to make such a difficult decision to place her for adoption. In a sense, she had lost her child twice…forever to serious mental illness.
I could feel my daddy swooping me up in his protective arms again, as a little girl, after falling out of a tree, as my niece spoke. “Grandpa had waited all night at the hospital because the birth mother was having a change of heart about whether she was going to keep her baby or not. In the morning, Grandpa, a man tall enough to “touch the moon,” had walked home proudly holding his new baby daughter close to his heart.”
Going on with our conversation, my father’s granddaughter noted, “Grandma said mom was challenging while growing up, but no obvious mental health issues, until she had married at a young age and was trying to raise two small children. I don’t know if you know much about Schizophrenia, but they tend to be very bright individuals. Grandpa and my mother shared a love for playing the piano and both were very intelligent.”
I knew then for sure that I wasn’t the daughter he never had. I felt like the underdog. My father had been grieving for his losses, too.