Must be a Sunday

Morning Wake Up Call

Woke up 6:50 and I did not have to take in too much convincing.

Had gone to bed early and I was well rested.

It is Sunday morning and I might as well go in and hear from the man of God.

Brought out the clippers and got a clean shave; there is no reason keeping any of this bad hair.

 

Who they are

Made it to worship late us usual.  And, so took that empty seat at the last row.

Service was good, the pastor brought up two congregants whom faith has brought together.

His faith has held for sixteen years. Worn and Tested.

Hers has grown in a much more unruffled soil; the company of friends.

In time her faith was tested as well.

When he is the one doing the testing; everything turns out well.

Her friends were not just friends in what they believe.  But, also in whom they are.

Brother Ray

Saw Brother Ray.

Had asked for his prayers a week earlier.

Walking the hallways and sometimes there is not better place, but out there in the open.

Someone else might be encouraged by the humility of brothers saying lay your hands on me.

And, pray me in to the place of peace that you are standing in.

Thankfully things are now more settled.

One never knows what lays ahead and so when prompted by the Spirit, be sure to ask for that prayer and fellowship.

 

Brother Gary

Saw Brother Gary after Church.

Asked him to please keep us abreast of plans for laying Dad down.

And, of prayers for him; and how I will not say more than that.

He agreed that there is not much to say has we have been through it.

He said of the plans that it was actually happening this afternoon.  But, it is out of town.

In Jamaica Queens, New York.

I am just so thankful that he could have muttered Yes and held the plans to himself, but he chose not to.

And, that rendered us the opportunity to enjoin with him in Spirit.

 

Aunt Stacy & Uncle Alan

Aunt Stacy called on Friday Night.

And, so made time to go see Aunt T. on Saturday afternoon.  And, also on Sunday.

And, yes the grass needed to be trimmed in love.

And, so returned home and came back with the mower.

After Church on Sunday, came back and took care of the backyard, as well.

Just like my Hair mowed the grass down rudely and harshly.

As I returned to the front to get some more gas, saw Uncle Alan, Aunt Stacy’s husband, helping trim the edges.

He was picking up behind me.

All the stuff I rushed through while cutting the front yard, he was lovingly and affectionately placing a well.

 

Mama

Took Mama out for Sunday dinner.

Dinner was at Forbes Mills in Los Gatos.

Here is a link.

Made sure that we walked the outdoors and got Mama’s hair wet.

Worked up an appetite and took in the refreshment of the wild, tempered outdoors.

 

R.C.

Talking about Los Gatos.

RC from Cornell interviewed there a few years ago.

She gunned for the City Planner’s position.

And, it came down to her and another person.

Wouldn’t that be something if RC is the one running that city; responsible for keeping old money respectable and treasured.

What we are entrusted with ….

Intro

The last few months has been interesting.

 

Journey

Change Agent

There was a change I wanted to implement in our Development process, but I was not quite sure we had identified the right person in our Development group to make sure that the change will be well received and successfully carried to completion.

As chance will have it, some one sent me a script to deploy; as I reviewed the script, I suggested some changes.  The person actually received the suggestions and implemented them.

I suggested a couple of peripheral changes and he incorporated those as well.

Furthermore, he shared that he always wondered about same peculiarity in the system and he is happy that he now knows how to better accommodate it.

A week or two later he was let go as part of a cost cutting measure.

 

Guardian Angel

A story was told about a Guarding Angel.

A daughter was born and her mother soon became a single parent.

A man came forth promising employment within strict guidelines.

Both sides kept their ends.

Another lady came and gave money placed in a tidy envelopment.  Unrequested and Unexpected.  Asked why, she replied that the Lord asked her to do it.

That friendship lasted over twenty years.  And, only came to temporary suspension upon the Angel’s return to Heaven.

 

Nobility

It just so happens that there are organizational changes that we need to align with.

As these pieces are being moved and new homes tested out, natural and technical pairings are considered and given the opportunity to develop and nourish.

Better outcomes are more likely through nobility, upbringing, fellowship, self initiation, and ongoing commitment to growth.

 

Summary

Each of us is either headed into change or fastening our self in some change.

Both sides are more alike than we might first understand.

I pray encouragement, temperament, understanding, and providence in managing what we are entrusted with.

Life in Ministry – The CareTakers – 2017/Dec

 

As I attested in an earlier post it is mostly grandmothers and mothers raising the children of those locked in.

And, so our interaction is mostly with women.

 

A Big Brother & Twin Sisters

About 3 years ago, Wifey and I drove about an hour to go drop off this particular gift.  The lady and I had made arrangements over the phone a couple of days earlier and I felt I needed a feminine persuasion to lighten the mood and draw us closer.

We arrived and were let in.  Met the twin granddaughters and the grandson.  Wifey was able to lubricate the conversation the way women are able to and it was really the best exchange that year.

As I looked at the drop offs this year, I found one that appears likely destined to the same family.

Arranged for a drop off.  Upon arriving was told that gifts were only for the twins as their older brother had aged out at nineteen.

Was sure to leave a gift cert for him.

 

Connection Made through Facebook

There is so much cost to having someone on the inside; the family loses that income. Additionally, they have to set aside tiny amounts and place them in the provision Accounts of those inside.

With sky high rental costs, often our targeted demographics have to move quite a bit.

Addresses and Phone number change midstream.

As I looked at the beautiful gifts purchased by our congregation, I knew I could not leave a particular set of gifts undelivered.

Yes, sometimes we hold gifts for years thereafter.

But, not this one.

They were packaged and paired for two sisters.

I tried reaching their mother through the phone number that we were provided, but “NO GO”.

I thus took to Facebook and tried to find the name.  The last name is common.  But, not the first.

Was able to locate her.

Sent her a Facebook text.  Did not hear back from her till the following Monday.

The next Sunday was a bright and sunny day;  just the right day with a thin winter air that is easy to walk and dress lightly in.

Dropped off the gifts and caught a glimpse of the beautiful toddler girls.

 

 

The lady that Adopted Two Children

Last year I met Ms. R.  The gift was for her grandson.

On the day I attempted to make the delivery she was out of town.

And, so she asked us to just put it in the mail.

Trusted her grandson with gift certs.

This year, our Church, again drew her.

I called her and we quickly deepened conversation into familiar spirits.

I asked if it was OK to pray and she obliged.

She continued that she has a Government Job that pays handsomely and that she does not need help buying gifts for her grandson.

But, he likes to receive something from his Dad.

She insisted that she has to recompenses us.  And, she will do so by adopting two of our kids.

As her son’s Angel was picked by a fellow Government worker as Ms. R, I explained that she is picking a worthy Angel that did not just need a present,  but prayers as well.

A couple of weeks ago, Ms.  R and I resumed our conversation.  I asked if she is is still interested in adopting the Angels and she replied Yes.

In between I lost my phone, but she persisted in calling me.

The first call I received upon getting a replacement phone was hers.

She had moved and we arranged to meet at a close by train station.

Dropped off the gifts and instead of given us two gift certs back, she gave us three.

What an exchange, gave one received three.

 

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

There was a family with two girls, One girl wanted the book “The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett” and the other “Bow & Arrow“.

We had a church member deliver the gifts with a replacement for the book.

A few minutes later Ms.  Denise came by with the Book.  She was not happy that we had exchanged out her gift.  She had placed so much into it and she even added a “Heart Pendant“.

The next weekend called the lady and made arrangement to drop off the book.  She hesitated fervently that the gifts were already delivered.  I said Yes, but the delivery was missing the one item the daughter explicitly requested.

As I delivered the gift she confessed that her granddaughter was not so happy that we did not oblige her initial gift request.

The grandmother tried to explain things away by saying that her Dad only has an opportunity to give us a gender and an age and we just were not able to get her what she wanted.

The young girl insisted that we asked her for what she wanted and she was affirmative with her request.  Grandmother promised to take her to the bookstore after Christmas.

I was happy that Ms. Denise followed through.

Wrong Address

There was gifts destined for the Central Valley.   One of the gifts needed to be splitted off between grandparents and a mother.

The mother called and said the gifts for the grandparents never arrived.  I replied that we were done for the year and we were unable to make up the difference.

She pleaded with me, but I was unrelenting.

About a week later I finally made it to the mailbox.  And,  God behold, the parcel was in there waiting for me.

I called her back and apologized for my unbelief.  She shared with me that they know the intended street very well and that she and grandmother drove back and forth a few times and know that the address I had did not exist and that she knew that I will receive the package back eventually.

Holiday Gift Cards

Angel Tree

Each year at the Fellowship in which I worship we buy gifts for children of “Shut in Parents”.

This particular social fabric is called Angel Tree.

 

Congregants

For Year 2017, we have a lot more Angels requesting gift certificates.

After looking for actual gifts on the tree, many congregants smugly walked away empty handed.

I was able to make facial contact with some of them as they haplessly complained of not having actual gifts to choose from.

 

Yours Truly

I have yet to bring myself to confide to our congregants.

But, yours truly is the source of their consternation.

I was too quick to bail out many grandparents as they were lost as to which gifts their grandchildren will prefer over the other.

I asked one of my fellow co-coordinators, GP, as to how he was able to place so many actual gift requests on the tree.

He said he pushed the guardian to come up with an actual gift and did not allow them the escapism of a gift card.

 

Why Actual Gifts

The congregants offered resounding reasons for the ire.

As in most faith communities, our congregants are mostly women; and even more so when it comes to actual involvement in outreach programs.

While men are quick to take the easy, straightforward road to satisfaction, women often take the long, winded more intimate scenic back roads.

Women want to know the Children names, their gender, ages, and actual desires.

They match their pick of children to their children’s gender and age.

They involve their children in thinking & choosing the gifts, packaging and delivering it.

 

Each Sunday

Each of these last two Sundays I have weighed my euphoria from quickly jotting down Gift Certificates for the entire family line against the emptiness felt by each congregant as they leafed through each gift request.

I feigned for collaborative thoughts.

 

Last Sunday

Last Sunday, Ms. Ruby, the Church’s founding Pastor’s wife, came up to me and said that she has done this for 20 years and that I am not going to deny her this year.

She said to make sure “to get it right, as it is not the same if she misses out on what she is supposed to participate in“.

 

More Angels

Aside from my blunder, all our allotted Angels have been picked.

And, finally this evening I took the time to email Vivian and asked if she has more Angels.

She said Yes.

A batch in our state and a bigger batch the State North of us.

She explained that because of the distance, it will likely have to be Gift Certificates or Amazon Prime.

 

God’s Moment

I asked her to please call me, and she obliged.

She explained to me that these days, gifts cards are OK especially for teenagers.

That is, as long, as some requirements are met.

As she explained everything I knew it was a God Moment.

having my feet washed out and having twinkles placed in.

 

Vivian

Here is a lady I am speaking to for the very first time in my life.

And, she is sharing with me the precaution we should take to measure the veracity of the relationship between the shut in and the ones we are trying to serve in his absenteeism.

Understanding that our Church’s resource is limited and has to be carefully disbursed, we have to be constrained in our financial obligations; yet unrestrained once we establish the actuality of the relationship.

Furthermore, she highlighted the difference between Churches.  There are some that just want to get into the homes and are more loose in their qualification process.

 

Little Spaces

It is like him to show up in the little spaces of our lives.

A father and a Husband.

Broad shouldered to carry the fainting and keep those inside in.

Yet secure enough to disappear as the wanderer makes his way in.

 

Scripture

  1. Prayer for the disciples
    So that they may be one as We are one.
    During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.
    I guarded them so that not one was lost
    ( John 17:11-12 )
  2. Out of my/his hand
    No one can snatch them out of My hand.
    My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all.
    No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.…
    ( John 10:28-29 )
  3. The Sheep and the Goats
    …For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat,
    I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink,
    I was a stranger and you did not take Me in,
    I was naked and you did not clothe Me,
    I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.
    And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?…
    ( John 25:42-44 )
  4. Unto Me
    Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
    ( John 25:45 )

 

Primary Responsibility

Though, I swore to keep my public discord separate from my private affairs.

I have to dedicate this to Sade, my sweetest Taboo.

What a shame that I have to steal from Def; but “Truly, without her, nothing works“.

Each of us has things we want to do, but when our primary responsibility is unprovided for, we are monrose and unhinged.

And, so this is for and to her, and all she does to make sure we are together in Spirit and in Truth.

When things are not right, we quickly come together to structure it before him, he who is able

 

Words

Many of the children are been shepherded by their Aging grandmother.

It is embarrassingly agonizing that God continue to have no one else, but grandparents to care for these young ones.

  1. Angelina Grimké  (1805-1879)
    • I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and daughters, of those who do
  2. Mary McLeod Bethune
    • For I am my mother’s daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth
  3. Cindy Sheehan
    • “I am going to take whatever I have left and go home,” she wrote. “I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.
  4. Bob Dylan
    • My daddy [once said], ‘Son, it is possible to become so defiled in this world that your mother and father will abandon you. And, if that happens, God will always believe in your ability to mend your ways
  5. Barack Obama
    • He was raised literally and metaphorically offshore, in Indonesia by his white mother and in Hawaii by his white grandparents. He is very much an American but tends to view the incongruities of politics with the distancing eye of an outsider
  6. Danish Proverb
    • A rich child often sits in a poor mother’s lap
  7. Jim McGreevey
    • One of the most contentious issues in the divorce is what the child should be exposed to. Her mother made McGreevey and his partner take down a nude photograph in their home, contends that Jacqueline should not be allowed to sleep in her father’s bed, and says that the girl should not be allowed to receive communion in the Episcopal Church because she is being raised a Roman Catholic. At the hearing, the judge said the girl would not be permitted to sleep in the same bed with anyone except her mother or father.
  8. Denzel Washington
    • My mother never gave up on me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back
  9. Hagar & Ishmael
    • And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt. ( Genesis 21:20-21 )
  10. Saint Augustine – Ancient Roman Christian Theologian and Bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430)
    • He cannot have God for his Father who will not have the Church for his mother.
  11. George Michael
    • I was pretty depressed about my mother’s death. I was as down as I’ve ever been. It was even worse than when my lover died. I found it hard to cope.
  12. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    • Unless life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile
  13. Robin Morgan
    • We are each precious, unique, necessary. We are strengthened and blessed and relieved at not having to be all the same. We are the daughters of longing. We are the mothers in labor
  14. King David
    • And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. (1st Samuel 22:3-4 )
  15. Abraham Lincoln
    • “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” I will prepare and someday my chance will come. All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. Whatever you are, be a good one. I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother. I walk slowly, but I never walk backward
  16. Haniel Long
    • For support, I fall back on my heart. Has a man any fault a woman cannot weave with and try to change into something better, if the god her man prays to is a mother holding a baby?

Listening

Listening to the song I first heard today when I went by CVS for snacks ….

Train – Marry Me
Link

Something about …

Forget the world now we won’t let them see
But there’s one thing left to do

If I ever get the nerve to say
Hello in this cafe

You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you

Now that the wait is over
And love and has finally shown her my way

 

Spiritually Receivedth

 

Thanks for our time yesterday
A nice planned dinner at your favorite, Benihana

The table was set so well…

From the couple right besides with their young daughter
To the young couple that just moved here from Sweden after spending a couple of years in Denmark

 

And, the men sited on another table, that we chatted with as we waited on a packed dineout Saturday evening
I couldn’t help it, as they were decently dressed in matching European Apparel
Later find out they are were Irish Men

 

I know it is a good dinner when the complaints is not about the food itself
But, my old dented car that was waiting for us outside as we emptied the restaurant
You affectionately reminded me
how more than anything you will like for me to get a new one

 

I am so very sorry that Instagram and text messages had to ruin our evening for us

Took the charge for a 2 Star sleep in, it is the Valley.

 

 

As a boy couldn’t wait to get to the physical
But, passed on the holding and caressing thereafter
Ended up as far as I could on the other side of the bed

 

I know I should have been the first to say sorry on waking up this morning
Gave me an opportunity to say so when you reminded me that I had all night to hold you, as I returned for a return affair this morning

 

But, pride forever gets in the way
Shallow only see things from one side

 

If I was a masseuse, I would try to untie you in all the knotted knobs
But, never been good at taking time
And, so I raced to God to bail me out

 

As I prayed to see what I am dealing with
And, what walls and hallways I was permitted to
God reminded me it wasn’t really you
But, I that needed accepting

 

There are things we know
There are things we are given
But, unable to accept in the present Life we live

 

Those things that only prayer into his being
Into his presence can be availed to us

 

Thanks for allowing me to receive those things that are sometimes physically there,
yet can only be spiritually received

In some ways the one left holding the bag, is the one who hoped or gave the most.

Coincidentally it is same that has to hid for the shame of having giving up so much.

 

Gone so far, I am Monica
Came back in the morning hoping you did not notice

When things didn’t go my way
Raced to God with a list of all things that is wrong
Thanks goodness, he has a short list
Actually a one liner
Had my name on it

Read you came to him
And, you and he and have already worked it out
And, you already fessed to me, as well

So what does Johnny come lately get
Not a lot

I just sometimes wonder about these guys who get to have a long conversation with him
All I ever get is quick rebuke
And, told to go my way

 

Cornerstone Verses

Romans 4:6-8
just as David proclaims the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”…

Psalm 32:1-2
Blessed is He who is Forgiven

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!…

Psalm 130:3-4
If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.…

… For with the LORD there is lovingkindness ( Psalm 130:7 )

 

Habakkuk 2:4
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

 

Sermons

  1. #4 Romans by Chuck Missler
    • Videos
      • YouTube
        • Channel :- NarrowPathMatt714
          Published On :- 2014-August-17th
          Link

Kenneka Jenkins and Young African American Womanhood

Preface

I think it was Monday morning through Google News that I first became aware of the Kenneka Jenkins story.

 

Desperation

At face value there seems to be quite a bit lost in translating those early hours of “Innocence Lost” into community participation.

What does one do when a young adult goes missing.

Once someone is 18 they pretty much have a right to self determination.  They can simple say and do their Yeses and Noes.

They can stay gone and missing for a few days.

As I read it her mother woke up and went to the Hotel and asked for help once contacted by her friends and told they could not find her.

It appears she was told by the Hotel Clerks that can only do so much until she files a “Missing Person” report.

 

Womanhood

You could tell the mother loves her.

One could tell her Sister loves her.

I think there was a young man that stood with her mother, as well.

Sometimes during adolescence we try so very hard at holding on to those who love us.

But, more so, at navigating towards our own Identity and the Yeses that come within that.

Seemingly, it is the price of Womanhood.

 

How things look and how they are

Hair done, nails nailed

Face prettied, gowns worn

From the look of things sure and ready for anything

 

But, at nineteen she hardly knows the glasses and mirrors that covers the pond

Just because a river welcomes and receives sunlight does not mean it forever stood idly by

There is often so much washed in and washed away

 

 

Safe

It was a girlfriend’s birthday
And, so not much should go wrong
Take Mama’s Car
Check in and stay indoors with friends
Come back home to waiting family

 

Bitterness

The Psalmist wrote …

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy

 

Time

Each time has its own stories, fables, and myths
Ours is just too much to keep to self
Sharing is caring
And, so I am thinking I will beam it on Facebook
Some come to watch, others to celebrate, and yet others to mourn

There is a little bit for everyone
Items for sale, yet they could be had for free

 

Weasel

Weasel away time
Weaseling away time, like we could have it back
Whistling away life
Like we could whistle the Spirit back in it

 

Courage

Mistakenly uncaring-ness for courage
Mistaken “Made up mind” for ineptness
Pride in “Standing our grounds” like it always been ours
A generation here, a generation there
It could go either way

 

War Within

In the middle of a chess game
Pieces always moving

Wale – Family Affair
Link
You see I gotta go to war

You too young and you don’t know what I’m fightin’ for
This is my Vietnam
You are my strength
And the reason that I’m going

 

You fooled me into thinking it was my turn
You fooled me into thinking half the table was mine
While you knew all along the table was a bit slanted
And, I had few and fewer pieces on it

Morning

It looked like it took all day
Seemingly it took all night
But, come morning
None of the pieces was mine after all

….
….

Car and phone returned to mums

At the very least the ones who loves me knows not to keep calling

Debt

Like in the song “Wildflower” sang by “Color Me Badd
Sincerely it sings about how

always paying, for a debt she never owes

No one else would sign up to pay it
So it rests on her
By morning, hopefully it had been fully paid
And, her Spirit can yield, and float featherless and wingless having yielded the weight of life

 

Between the Lines

Chuck Missler likes to say “the only barrier to the truth is assuming you have it“.

We steadily thinking we know and calling out our enemies.

But, Wallahi, yet sometimes things be more complicated.

See who is satisfied with you fucking up.

See who holds on to his best and shares your worst with the world

The worst in others is the easiest to share

 

Yea, Squeezed

Yea, finally here I am

Into the little refrigerator

Tried so hard

Trying so hard to create spaces between unbalanced relationships

Having to miss mine and others familiar habits

Out from getting squeezed and trapped in my past

Doing too much from ‘ving to be counted and forever pictured into my forever nightmare

 

Spirits

Spirits are beings and people too.

The Devil reads spirits.

Sign up to do same

Have quiet come to God moments and interludes

It takes time and getting used to

But, it is part of LIFE

And, what God wants to give you

 

See you in a Bit

Didn’t say bye as she is quiet not
But, hovers over, watching who say what
Who confessed to what
Who came by to say and face Final Respect 

 

Care

Kenneka, caring is the least we can do.
Though the world seems a little hardened after all that has happened, and is happening
Yet centuries ago, to steady our feets, someone muttered:

two sparrows going for a penny, yet not one of them falls to the ground outside of our father’s care“.

 

Videos

  1. Andrew Holmes
    • KENNEKA JENKINS LIVE UPDATE FROM ANDREW HOLMES
      Channel :- Mek & Jimmie
      Published On :- 2017-Sept-14th
      Link
  2. Chicago Tribune
    • Hotel Footages
      • On hotel video, Kenneka Jenkins last seen alive staggering through kitchen
        Published On :- 2017-Sept-14th
        Link

 

Listening

  1. Color Me Badd ( Tyrese )
  2. Carrie Underwood
    • Carrie Underwood – Don’t Forget To Remember Me
      Link
  3. Patty Loveless
    • Patty Loveless – How Can I Help You Say Goodbye
      Music Video from: Patty Loveless, Only What I Feel, 1993 Sony
      Link
  4. Phil Collins
    • Phil Collins – In the Air Tonight
      Link
  5. Pete Rock & CL Smooth
    • They Reminisce Over You
      FROM THE ALBUM “MECCA AND THE SOUL BROTHER” (1992).
      Link

 

Caitríona Palmer – On the power of mother-daughter love

 

Caitríona Palmer on the power of mother-daughter love at all odds
https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/on-writing/on-writing/2016/mar/caitriona-palmer-on-mother-daughter-love-at-all-odds/

Of my three children, my eldest, Liam, reminds me the most of my mother. I see flashes of her in his pewter eyes, in the splatter of honeyed freckles across his nose, and in the sweet way he sometimes furrows his eleven year-old brow. He has my mother’s gentle manner too, her unassuming way. It marvels me, this biological reflection, how I can sometimes reach out towards him and almost touch her.

This familial likeness between grandmother and grandson comforts me, for my mother – who I shall call Sarah, although that is not her real name – is rarely present in my life. She and I parted ways forty-eight hours after my birth in a Dublin hospital in April 1972, victims of Ireland’s then shameful intolerance towards the unmarried mother and her child. That day bereft, and traumatized, her breasts still leaking with milk, Sarah left the hospital and tried to rebuild her life.  I, bundled up in blankets in the arms of a stranger, was taken by taxi to a baby home. Within six weeks I had a brand new adoptive family, and a sanitized new name.

I grew up happy and content, fiercely loved by my parents and two older siblings. But in 1999, when I was twenty-seven years old, haunted by an internal dissonance that I could not shake, I decided I needed to know who my birth mother was. We were reunited that Christmas and developed a close attachment. But despite our happiness, there was a catch. In the intervening decades, Sarah had told no-one – not even the man she married or the children they raised – about the baby she’d had in 1972. Terrified that her husband would leave her, that her children would shun her, she asked that I cooperate in hiding my existence temporarily from her family and friends, that we have an affair.

That was sixteen years ago. Since then Sarah and I have met secretly once or twice a year, usually in the oak paneled bar of a north Dublin hotel. She never tells me what lie she promulgated to slip away from her husband and family, and I never ask. We prefer to sit in secluded corners where we are less likely to be seen. Sometimes I meet her alone, other times I bring my kids. We chat and catch up for a couple of hours before embracing and walking away.

It amazes me that I spend, on average, just three or four hours a year with the woman who gave me life and yet, despite these odds, we have built up a powerful bond. In Sarah’s presence I hardly notice our surroundings, so intent am I in drinking her in. Even now, I can close my eyes and recall the velvety softness of her cheek and the freckled outline of her hands. I know her ticks and mannerisms, like the odd noise that she makes at the back of her throat when she’s nervous or embarrassed, and the way she sometimes absentmindedly twists the rings on her left hand. If we were not constrained by the rules of the affair I would know too what gifts to spoil her with for this coming Mother’s Day: her favorite perfume, her preferred wine, a gift certificate to the restaurant in Dublin that she loves so much. I also know, because I once asked, that were she faced again with the same terrible choice that she had in April 1972, that this time she would not give me away.

Skulking in the shadows with my birth mother has taught me many things about myself; that it can be exhausting – and at times demeaning – to love someone who is not quite able to love you in the same way back. I am constantly astonished by the reserves of resilience that lie deep beneath. But it has also taught me that despite nearly three decades apart – and another sixteen years of being kept in the dark – that it is hard to keep a mother and daughter apart. Despite the pain of being kept a secret, and of having to be a child on her terms, I still love Sarah with all my heart.

Continue reading