Copyright Lorraine Dusky 2013. May not be copied or quoted.
Three weeks later, Jane flies to Detroit the day after Christmas to meet my mother and my husband. Jane, bubbling with excitement—her first airplane flight! an adventure of her own!—glides through the gate beaming. Since this
was before 9/11, Tony, my mother and I were there at the gate, and this time, she hugs me enthusiastically, and embraces her “new” grandmother too. All three of us are within an inch of each other’s height, same coloring, similar hair. No mistaking who the three of us are that day.
I notice a guy standing a bit to the side, lingering a bit, watching. Jane flashes a big grin and waves, turns to me and says: “I sat next to him and told him the whole story.” I nod; he smiles and moves on. A chance encounter, a whole universe he’s probably never thought about acknowledged between strangers.
|The motel my parents owned when I was in high school|
That day after that, Sunday, is the only day that my relatives would have had to meet Tony (most had not come East to our wedding in September) as well as Jane, and so into the smallish living room troop more than a dozen assorted relatives—my two brothers, Richard and Tom; Uncle Stanley, who had been a radio operator living behind enemy lines during World War II, and his wife, Sylvia; my cousin Beverly; assorted nieces and nephews—Jane's cousins. Relatives. Meeting Grandma was one thing, but all these other people—probably a dozen total—these strangers who are presumably related to her?
Adoptees say this kind of reunion experience is overwhelming and uncomfortable—they don’t feel like a member of the new family, they already have a family, thank you very much, they feel like they are on display. In truth, they are, just as much as a relative recently returned from India with a new Indian bride would be—but Jane, with Tony’s help, takes it in stride. And that day, fortunately, everybody was checking out Tony too, deflecting some of the attention from her. My family sees her as a full member of the clan, even if she had been missing. Later Jane tells me that the only thing that made her uncomfortable was when someone refers to me as “your mom.” Mom is back in Wisconsin.
|The Summit restaurant was at the top of the center tower|
To Jane, it must be simply a big city, to me it was familiar, home. See the Christmas tree in Cadillac Square down there? That’s where I used to go Christmas shopping with my mother, the bus from Dearborn stops near there. See that cool white building over there, with the structure on top that looks like a big wedding cake? That’s designed by a famous architect named Yamasaki, dates used to take me there to a restaurant on the top floor when I was in college—the bathrooms have windows in the powder room down to the floor, it’s kinda freaky because you’re so high up, maybe we’ll have a chance to go there. And the lights on the other side of the river? That’s Canada—yes, really it is, a town called Windsor. When Jane stares out the window, I look at her: My daughter. My daughter, my daughter is here. Have you ever tried escargot? What is that? Snails? Yuk. Okay, steak and potatoes it is with lots of butter. I’m from Wisconsin, the Dairy State, remember? she says. How could I forget? I joke back. I’m still a sucker for revolving restaurants on top of sky scrapers, and it turns out, so is she, as she discovers that night. We both love heights and revolving restaurants, no matter how corny they seem to the unknowing.
That morning we had all gone to Mass at my old parish, Sacred Heart, and where my mother still worshipped. Here is my daughter, Lord, here is a good husband, Lord, here is my mother, and the memory of Christmas past when I didn’t know where she was and I forced down the tears during Silent Night whizz by in a flashback. Now I hear Tony singing in his deep bass, Mother on key, Jane and me decidedly off. Neither one of us can keep a tune more than four notes, and noticing that gives me a squirt of pleasure. Whether or not I believed in the Catholic God of my youth was not open for discussion that day as my heart repeated: Thank you God. Thank you for giving me my daughter. Yes, of course, I knew that soon she would fly back to her other life, another mother, another family, in another state, and I would go back East. But now I know her.
(I will try to find some photographs from that visit but I don't remember taking any, oddly enough--stupid, right?)