Gratitude Sunday: Hard Choices, Tough Decisions

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “You write your life story by the choices you make. You never know if they have been a mistake. Those moments of decision are so difficult.”
Helen Mirren

Sunday Haiku
Black cloud, gray cloud, white,
March lions on, pours rain down,
greening thirsty earth.

Sunday Musings

Trigger alert: women’s bodily processes, abortion, and adoption

Sometimes when I finish reading a book that touches me deep inside, one that makes me cry, or laugh, or wonder, I have to sit a while and think. I have to let the words flow through me, envelope me, wash me clean. I have to let new thoughts in relation to the novel come freely without restraint. I have to let the tears complete their exit or they bubble inside until they come another day. May as well honor the author and the art by letting the tears and emotions free.

A recent novel, The Light Between Oceans, set me back into my seat for some weepy sorrowing, because as fortune would have it I am dealing with something vaguely similar in my own life. In the late 1920s in the aftermath of WW1 and the horrors men and women faced, a lighthouse keeper and his wife are the only residents of the lighthouse island. After the wife’s three unattended miscarriages, providence sends a small boat to the island with a dead man and a crying infant in it. Rather than report the incident, the couple chooses to keep the child. Of course, it’s all more complicated, as the biological mother of the child lives on the mainland not far from the island, and mourns the lost child and husband. I read the last half of this novel in one sitting, firmly planted on the couch, and sat through the waterworks as well. Recommended reading, by the way.

In my own life I only got to have the one son. I was fairly regular with my cycle, and if I had any miscarriages they came early after a conception in the form of a delayed and heavy flow. For the record I dislike the term “period” for the bleeding part of a woman’s monthly cycle. The blood flow time is not a period, not a full stop of any sort. If it were, women would be honored for their troubles and would not be expected to proceed with their days as if nothing was happening with their bodies. It’s more like a week-long, uncomfortable, sometimes painful, hiccup.

The son came late in my middle age, a miracle defying modern birth control efforts, after the conscious decision not to have children because of financial poverty. I supported a disabled hubster who did not qualify for the safety net called Social Security Disability, and being an uneducated poor white woman, I had few tools in my kit to earn me any kind of wealth; it was always a struggle just to pay rent and the other basics. I am grateful to have the son and to know the joys and heartache of parenting a child. I was grateful to share with the hubster a child of his own blood, as the hubster was an adopted child and did not know his biological family. At least with his own son, without any question, he had somebody of his own blood who would be in this world with him. We were lucky to have a successful pregnancy, a fraught but successful delivery via a last minute C-section, and a child who has suffered little in the way of illness or other physical or mental health challenges.

I’ve never had to make the choice between abortion, adoption, and having and raising a child of my own. When I was young and babies were still romantic, and not a physical reality, I wanted a baby of every color. When I told the hubster, he wanted to know how I would function that. I meant adoption, as there are plenty of unwanted children out there, but he thought I meant I wanted to make those babies myself and he wasn’t at all comfortable with sharing me with other men. I can’t blame him for that piece, but it also helped me realize I needed to be realistic about babies I might bring into this world. Our financial situation would have never qualified us as adoptive parents. For me the choice of keeping my baby was simple but not easy, as I could never give back the one miracle human being I had conceived, though my doctors and medical care-givers advised abortion because of my “advanced” age. I was 37.

I’ve known many women who have had to make hard choices. Women whom I have accompanied to the clinic because they needed a driver after the procedure. Women who have given their babies to other families. Women who mourned as their bodies rejected fetus after fetus until they could no longer conceive. Women whose arms and hearts ached for babies they would never conceive. Women who carried to term only to have the child stillborn. Women who kept babies conceived by rape or violence, because the child was not at fault. Women who had to make hard decisions for the sake of their future in this wild crazy world where we exist as second class citizens and even considered as property.

We put together the pieces of the hubster’s adoption and his biological parents after his adoptive parents died, Mom in 2000 and Dad in 2003, when we inherited all the paperwork about the adoption. We researched his biological family and knew who they were and what they looked like; the hubster made a couple attempts at getting in touch. He could have chosen to be more aggressive in his efforts, but he did not.

After more than a decade of knowledge of their existence, the hubster’s biological family have come back into his life. His biological parents had to make that hard choice. They were very young; he was 17 and she was 19. They weren’t married yet. They had to be realistic about the imminent changes in their lives. When the hubster was born in 1953, attitudes and the way things were done were different from now. Times do change things, and perception is half the battle. In those days an unwed mother was shamed, and if the father was known he usually suffered few, if any, consequences. Adoptions were private, sealed, and closed. Information to reconnect biological families was difficult at best, and impossible much of the time. Perceptions, however, do not stop the heartache of a tough decision or the blood bond of family. His family had no way to find him; they didn’t know the adoptive names or the names of the lawyers involved. Only upon the death of his adoptive parents did the informational pieces come into our lives. In 1953, all parties involved in this story were sworn to secrecy.

Now young women keep their babies even if they are not married, and there is less stigma involved. Adoptions are open with the birth parents remaining active in the lives of their adopted children. The decision to choose abortion is not any easier to make, and still not easy to obtain, though many people think it is their right to make that choice for other women.

Choices are hard. Decisions are tough. Sometimes there aren’t any good choices and life hands you the rough end of the stick, but you make your choice, and you stand by your decision, and you get on with your life, regrets and rewards and all of it. I’m not completely convinced things happen for a reason; it often seems to me life is random and chaotic out there, like my internal life, in here. The chaos is randomized by choices – like a throw of the dice, you never know what you might get. As hard as choices are, I am grateful the hubster’s biological parents chose to share him with a childless couple. As hard as his life has been, that they chose for him to live and experience this weird world. I am grateful they never forgot him, even if they couldn’t be with him.

We were in a public place when I recognized the hubster’s biological father. It was a prime number day for changes, March 3rd. I chose to be brave and walked up to introduce myself. After he got over the shock of an unsettling introduction, he shared that the family had been looking for their first-born. It’s been a wild ride the last couple weeks and a long wait, as the hubster will soon be 65.

I am grateful now to have his biological family back in his life as he deals with the aging process. I am grateful to have made the choice to be instrumental in facilitating their reunion, rather than walking away as if his biological family didn’t exist. They did not know how to find him because of the sealed and closed adoption, and it was only because I made the choice to introduce myself and provide them with information they did not have and could not find that they have found each other. I could have chosen to walk on by and let the past lie in the past. I did not have to be brave, but I chose another adventure instead. Their reunion was because of my choices.

Families, of course, are mixed blessings. You may love them, but there is no guarantee you will get along, or agree with each other, or like one another. People are people with all our quirks and foibles. In this case they are family, but they are strangers as well. We’ll know one another soon enough. I have a tendency to think it’s nice to have more people in our lives as we age, regardless of challenges, if only to tell our stories.

Now, with one introduction, one choice, my families have more stories to share.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – The variety of sunny yellow daffodil faces.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} When Harry Met Sally (1989, rated R) with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. I’m watching some of these old classics because I didn’t get to see them when they came out. Going out to movies wasn’t in the budget, nor was renting them from a movie store, and I never could afford cable; I still don’t pay for these things. When a $5.00 matinee at the movie theater can buy a week’s worth of bathroom tissue for my three person household, you can bet I’m going to buy the clean. Ever so grateful for my local lending library where, because of my property tax investment, I can borrow movies and watch them at my leisure. Harry and Sally have a 10 year history after their first meeting in which their love blooms. * Binging through season 4 of Grace and Frankie (2017, rated TV – MA) with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, and grateful to see the lives of affluent families have a bit of chaos as well as the rest of us, they just have a better financial cushion. * The Man From London (2007, not rated) with Tilda Swinton, whom I usually enjoy, and generally I enjoy foreign films. I fell asleep two nights in a row watching this Hungarian film done in the film noir style. By the third night, I just wanted it to be over. The slow pace was likely part of the art of the film, but it was so irritating I watched most of the last half on fast forward, which was still agonizingly slow. Much of the language was French, and I know just enough French to know many of the subtitles were only close to what was said. Could not figure out the plot, until the film was over and I read the blurb on the DVD case. Meh.

Currently ReadingA Secret History of Witches (2017, fiction) by Louisa Morgan. Early 1800s and a Romani family must flee France after an attack by a Catholic priest. The family history and traditions are carried on through generations. * Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000, history) by Rebecca Solnit, one of my favorite contemporary authors. Ms Solnit’s lyrical and thoughtful writing makes all her subjects fascinating.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The soft sweet scent of sun warmed plum blossoms.
  • The songs of little birds after the rain stops.
  • Those same little birds who tweet and twitter me awake in the morning.
  • The yellowing, pinking, purple-ing, and greening of spring.
  • Looking forward to the Vernal Equinox this Tuesday.
  • Getting to meet the hubster’s biological father, two sisters, and a brother. More to meet later.
  • Old women helping older women.
  • Running through a downpour and enjoying the feeling of soft rain on my skin.
  • Looking forward to a couple quiet weeks at the pool. I love my work-out when the little tadpoles are having lessons, but it gets loud sometimes. Breaks are nice.
  • Napping when I need to or want to.
  • A safe hunting-gathering journey while the Check Engine light blinked on and off.
  • So many books and the luxury of time to read them.
  • Choosing to be brave.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, Family, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, History, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Hard Choices, Tough Decisions

  1. piratesorka says:

    Now I know the story about your look of wonder when I saw you for a fleeting moment at Milwaukie High. What a wild chance meeting that must have been! Wowza!. Wish I could wax poetic as I see those lovely flowers and especially the flowering trees that that suddenly burst forth but I am full of pain and discomfort today.. I am so hopeful for a warm spring as I am so weary of winter and pain and winter and melancholy. I’m sure you know this mournful sad tune.


    • sassy kas says:

      Dearie, so much more to the story that is hard to share in black and white. Here I want to protect the privacy of individuals in print. Be prepared for an earful when we get together next. I thought I had given the poor man a heart attack, but he seems to be thriving on it now. I am also wishing for warmer weather, though we’ve had it mild this winter. And I didn’t realize my face was so readable. Ha!


  2. Joy says:

    wow, what a life and recent times! Equinox tomorrow and my sons birthday too. At least there are some things that are rhythmic in this wild and crazy life we have.


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