“My dad raised three girls and a boy,” she said. “He deserves an award or something.”
She’s probably right. She says he was an expert at getting them ready for school, braiding hair, making lunches, and scaring away rowdy love-interests.
She didn’t realize how hard he’d worked until she had her first child.
But it was more than that. Her mother left when she was a baby. Her father explained it long ago: “One day, your mother just went nuts.”
That was all he said. The family spent their entire lives with nothing but photographs. And over time, even those faded.
He worked long hours, but still managed to win Daddy of the Century. She tells me he never remarried because he was too committed to his family.
“I used to tell my friends,” she goes on, “my mother died. Mostly, I made her sound like a saint. You know, kids wanna remember their mother in a good way, even if it’s a lie.”
Now that she’s an adult, she’s discovered it was as far from the truth as it got.
Two years ago, they tracked their biological mother down. They found out she’d done time in prison. She was living in a women’s rehab.
“We were heartbroken,” she says, “We cried. It opened up a can of worms I didn’t know I had. My dad took it hard. All kinds of feelings resurfaced.”
They weren’t sure about contacting the woman. After all, she was as near to rock-bottom as anyone could get.
Her father tried to put on the brakes.
“Dad wasn’t sure,” she said. “He didn’t want to know about what she’d been doing. I mean, a lotta years had passed.”
But girls are nosy, and it’s hard to let sleeping mamas lie. So they arranged a meeting. It was in a public place. They’re hearts were in their throats.
They recognized their mother across the room. The woman had a familiar gait.
“We were trying to be tough,” she said. “But when we saw her…”
Everyone embraced for nearly ten minutes, dehydrating themselves. She says it was a combination of sadness and euphoria.
“We invited her for Thanksgiving. I mean, it was only right. She’s our mom, good or bad. And we’ve decided to make her part of our lives.”
She adds, “Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s how bad it sucks to be abandoned. And how good it feels to be loved.”
I’ve spent the last thirty minutes trying to come up with a better line than that.
But I can’t.