The story of me begins with my parents deciding to separate.
My mother, a 25 year old housewife at the time, decided that she was tired of raising three little boys alone while my father drove a truck all over the country. She was lonely living, “out in the sticks,” shouldering all of the day-to-day responsibility of running a household and parenting, seeing her husband only every few months. Sometimes my dad would be gone the better part of a year. He sent money to her, of course, and gifts for my brothers from time to time, but this wasn’t the sort of marriage she envisioned herself, seven years earlier when she pledged her eternal love and devotion. She decided she was going to officially end their marriage, an event I suppose would take place when she had scraped enough money together.
So, when he returned home again, my father moved out.
I’m not sure how long they were separated. Weeks? Months? The amount of time has never been clear. When the story was told neither one of my parents could put a finger on exactly how long they were separated. What I do know is that they weren’t particularly adversarial; they were just over being married to each other; a theme that would reoccur periodically throughout my childhood and into my adulthood, when after 32 years of marriage, they finally did divorce.
One evening during this separation, roughly mid-January 1964, my mother went out with a group of her girlfriends; a ladies night out at a local nightclub. My maternal grandmother, Laura, tagged along. They all had a couple of drinks, danced, and had a great time. While my mother was out that night, my father came over to the house to “babysit” my brothers. When my mother returned home, the house was cold. The furnace had broken. Rather than spend the night in the frigid house, they collected my brothers, gathered some clothing, and headed to a local motel. My father came along because you don’t leave your wife and kids in the dead of night at some random motel in Lewiston, Maine. Not my dad, anyway. They would get the furnace fixed on Monday.
At some point over that weekend, my mom had a change of heart about her marriage. She watched my dad interact with my brothers and noticed how much they enjoyed being with him and how they all vied for his attention. It wasn’t right to keep the boys away from their dad, she thought. She had been a child of divorce and knew well how difficult it can be on a child. She didn’t want that for her children. The good and right thing to do would be to get back together and make the marriage work.
So, that’s what she decided to do. And my dad agreed.
“And I was pregnant with you immediately thereafter” she told me.
“So, my existence is entirely based on a faulty household appliance?” I asked
“I never thought of it that way but guess so,” she laughed.
Truth is, she wasn’t thrilled when she found herself pregnant. It was too soon after the reconciliation. Her marriage still felt tenuous. A pregnancy would seal her fate, for awhile anyway. “I had an appointment to get an abortion,” she once told me. “It wasn’t legal back then of course, but I had a friend that knew of a doctor in Boston. The day of the appointment I sat in the car a long time before I decided that I just couldn’t go through with it. I hope telling you this doesn’t upset you.”
It didn’t upset me at all. I’ve taken a home pregnancy test and while waiting for the results, wholeheartedly hoped not to be pregnant. I get it. But there for the grace of God, go I. To her, back then, I was just a pregnancy that she didn’t want. An added complication in an already complicated situation. She didn’t know me personally. Once I arrived, she spent the remainder of her life treating me like the prize in the cereal box of her life. Never once did I question her unfailing love and fierce devotion. That much is one-hundred percent true.
The story of my conception? Well, that’s only kind of true.
Perpetually curious. I love history, genealogy, old movies, good books, all sorts of music, and adventures involving travel. In my spare time, I help admin a genetic genealogy Facebook page for CeCe Moore ("DNA Detectives") and coach people how to connect with their biological family using DNA.