By Lauren Ressler –
It’s hard to grow up without knowing where half of you comes from.
I always lived with my dad and I had just always accepted that my mom wasn’t around and she never would be. I had two pictures of her that I kept hidden in the pages of my favorite book. They were pictures that were worn at the edges and yellowed on the back from age. She was pretty. Her hair was long and blond, with an eighties-style perm. I liked to think that I looked like her, but I was scared to ask; We didn’t talk about ‘my real mom’ at home.
There were always women in my life, but none could ever fill the ‘mom shoes.’ There were girlfriends and wives who were nice enough, but a little awkward trying to raise a geeky kid that didn’t biologically belong to them. My grandma and my aunts always made it a point to take me under their wing, but I never had mom’s cooking, mom’s hugs or mom’s time-outs.
Recently, while sitting in third block statistics, my phone buzzed. Facebook notification. It can wait, I thought. Later in the day I reviewed the friend request: John Fuqua. Fuqua… ‘That’s my mom’s last name,’ I thought to myself. My heart skipped a beat, but I reminded myself that I probably didn’t want to know my mom. She had left me, after all. She had abandoned me with my dad and his family, and had taken up a bad habit; Cocaine, heroine, Oxy. They were all more important to her than me.
With mixed emotions, I called my aunt. What do I do? What do I say? She assured me that this could be a turning point in my life. People can change. I wasn’t scared to talk to my mom or her family. I was scared to be disappointed. I had gotten along just fine without her, but deep down inside of me I knew I missed her. All I knew about her were those old pictures and of course the things people said about her.
With uneasy feelings, I pressed ‘accept’. Within five minutes, I received a message in my inbox. The first few words instantly cured my fear:
“You still have that gorgeous face and eyes that I met when you were a tiny little thing. Your mom loves you VERY much. It’s a long, not-so-pretty story but a VERY happy ending can be had.”
The pathways of communication were instantly opened. Facebook messages and emails flew from my laptop in Lancaster to my Papa’s old PC in Pensacola, Florida. It was exciting to know that my mom’s family still loved me, but there was still doubt in my mind; Did I want to know her?
With shaking hands, late on a Sunday afternoon, I picked up the phone to call the most important woman I had never met.
“Hi Mom, it’s me…”
By Lauren Ressler –
She instantly burst into tears. I remember the first words she said to me:
“Baby girl, I’ve missed you so much. I’m so sorry.”
After a good fifteen minutes of crying, I soon learned that this woman I was so scared to be disappointed in hadn’t abandoned me at all. We talked a little about the past, but focused mostly on the present and the future. That was refreshing; I didn’t need to hear about the past. It didn’t matter anymore why she wasn’t in my life for seventeen years, the fact was that she wasn’t there and now she was.
She told me her life had turned around. There were no more drugs, no more rough life. She explained to me that her mom had never been in her life either. When she was a teenager, she called her mom for the first time. Her mom was drunk in a bar and said ‘Carol, when you’re eighteen, call me. I’ll take you to Disney World.’ My mom was devastated. Years later, she received a phone call from her half sister who told her their mom had a month to live.
“I didn’t go,” my mom said to me about visiting her mother. “If I was dying in a hospital, the last thing I would want is my biggest regret staring me in the face.”
She told me I wasn’t a regret, and that she loved me very much. She didn’t want me to be disappointed in her like she was in her own mother.
That initial phone call gave me closure. It settled all of the tiny insecurities that had built up around not having a mother. My mom and I talk almost every day, now. I’m hoping to finally meet her again during graduation. I’m not disappointed at all. Our relationship isn’t awkward, or strained. In fact, rekindling my relationship with my mom has made me realize that real family will love and support you through every circumstance, even when they can’t be right there beside you.