The Most Beautiful Woman I Hardly Knew (What It's Like To Be Adopted By Your Grandparents)
My mother, Ruythe, was the most beautiful mother in the world, but I hardly knew her.
One night, when my twin sister, Lynne, and I, were two years old, our father, Oscar, came home late at night to our small apartment in Endicott, New York, and found that Ruythe had abandoned us and left for New York City. Apparently she could not handle caring for two small children.
Our father took us to the home of his parents who lived up the street, and he instructed them not to give us back to our mother, should she return.
His parents adopted us on our fourth birthday. We always referred to them as "Mom" and "Dad."
Our father then lived in New York City, and he would visit us every four to six months. We thought he was our older brother. One night, when Lynne and I were eleven years old, we awoke to hear our grandmother/mom sobbing in the living room. We found out that Oscar was found dead in bed the night before. To this day, his death remains a mystery.
While I sobbed at the funeral I noticed a beautiful, classy female stranger had appeared. She had long blonde hair. She wore a brown dress, and high spike heels. I remember walking behind her during the funeral procession, and gazing at the black seams on her stockings.
Our grandmother was not glad to see her.
At age fourteen, Lynne and I took a bus trip to New York City with our ninth grade class. We made arrangements to meet our cousin, Patti, and her mother, Dorothy, at the hotel where we were staying. What we did not know was that Dorothy's sister, Ruythe, our biological mother, would be accompanying them.
I was SO afraid to be nice to my mother because I knew my grandmother would be angry about Ruythe showing up. I acted shy and cold, whereas my twin sister showed off. She knew our mother would do anything to please us.
Ruythe treated us to a steak dinner, and she took us to the Empire State Building.
When we arrived home, our grandmother asked us, "Did you see Ruythe?"
We told her, "Yes." She was furious, and she asked, "What right does she have to meet you in New York City?"
On our sixteenth birthday, our grandmother died of a massive stroke. I suspect she died of a broken heart from the loss of Oscar, our biological father, four years before.
I cannot remember the exact moment we learned Oscar was not our brother, but our actual father and that we were being raised by his parents.
Although we were traumatized losing Oscar and our grandmother at such a young age, my sister and I had to go on with our lives. We graduated from high school, attended SUNY Delhi College, and got married. Each one of us gave birth to a son and a daughter.
When my sister's and my sons and daughters ranged in ages from two through age six, my sister sent a letter to our biological mother, Ruythe, who still resided in New York City. She wrote, "You have four grandchildren. Would you like to meet them?"
Ruythe accepted our invitation. She flew into Broome County Airport in Binghamton, New York, and she spent the weekend at my sister's home.
My sister wrote in her diary, "Ruythe looks beautiful. She loves our animals. We looked at old photos today."
My husband and I visited Ruythe both days, and she was able to meet her four grandchildren. It was one of the best weekends of our lives. The kids just loved her.
My sister asked Ruythe why she left us. The only answer Ruythe gave her was that she thought she was doing the right thing at that time because she was unable to care for us.
Ruythe was able to visit us on at least two other occasions until she developed cancer of the larynx from years of chain smoking and alcoholism.
My sister wrote her a letter when she was in the hospital for surgery. She told her we loved her and that we would be praying for her.
In one of the last letters our mother wrote to my sister, she thanked her for the beautiful letters, and she said they were an inspiration to her. She did not want us to visit her in the hospital because she was unable to talk.
Ruythe died suddenly while in the hospital awaiting another surgery.
I consider my mother to be the most beautiful woman in the world. She gave me the most precious gift of all, the gift of life and the power to choose my own destiny.
Our father, Oscar, was a wonderful man. However, he didn't live long enough for us to get to truly know him. It saddens me that we lost our biological parents at such young ages.
The fact that Ruythe left Lynne and I is not the issue. What is important is that she went into eternity with peace of mind - knowing Lynne and I did not resent her. Also, she had met her grandchildren.
I consider my sister's and my existence on this planet a gift from God, a DOUBLE GRACE. He had His eyes on us from the moment of our conception. We are meant to be here.
In 1985 Princess Diana stated, at a London Hospice, "I think the biggest disease this world suffers from is people feeling unloved." Then she added, "I can give love...I'm very happy to do that, and I will do that."
This my sister and I did with our mother, and we have no regrets.
Blessings, Sparklea :)