Friday, June 03, 2005

"Awed & Pleasantly Overwhelmed" letter from Bennett

This letter was written by my birth-father after he read my original "thank you" letter, and had heard from the agency that I was open to corresponding with him.


My Dear Daughter-

I received a letter from Joan Wilcox today, explaining her contact with you and enclosing your letter of March, 1992. I am awed and pleasantly overwhelmed. Thank God for life and for the sensibility and sweetness reflected in your words. How kind of you to have written in the past, and I hope you can forgive me for not "reaching out" before. With my chaotic life's history --my drinking and unreliability--I never felt stable enough to justify a possible intrusion in your life. And while we have never met, I am acutely aware of how moved I am. Yes, I always thought of you on your birthday too, and I had fantasies as well--"how is she, is she well, does she drink? Does she resemble her mother and me? And so on…

Let me say at the outset that I will totally respect any decision you've made about not wanting to meet me. My first thought about this was "after all, a father in prison!" But from Joan's letter it sounds like that per se is not a problem. I don't expect you to understand this at this time, but, in a nutshell, I robbed a bank in order to be locked up for a few years so I would not drink anymore. It seemed the only sane option left to me. Fortunately I have two loving sisters, a father and a few close friends who know about this and support me. My sister Kathleen will be here to visit on Sunday--she is a Licensed Social Worker (L.S.W.) and works mainly with senior citizens.

At any rate, I don't even know what happened to the money from the robbery. I was drunk at the time and probably lost it or got robbed myself. I pleaded guilty in Federal Court and here I am for a few years. I have been sober one year now--the longest in my life. I'm enrolled in a chemical dependency treatment program here in the mornings, then I work as a file clerk in the business office in the afternoon--a pleasant atmosphere. I continue to look at my time here as an opportunity to learn how to live sober. We have a small but solid AA group here and my "cell-mate" and I have an evening Bible study with a few other fellows in our unit. I have long believed that my continuous sobriety would be based on my spirituality and improving my conscious contact with God.

My heart breaks that I did not find sobriety years ago--that your mother and I were unable to raise you as our daughter. She and I loved each other very much--it was quite overwhelming and traumatic for her. I don't know if you've ever had contact with her. I have not, since 1968. But, you may be interested to know; I can see a good deal of her reflected in your words. Enthusiasm, optimism, a "brightness'" as well as being bright intellectually. While I think of it, she had occasional migraines, but otherwise had good health.

As for me, other than my drinking I have basically good health--a little high blood pressure at age 50, but I must have good genes to have drank all those years and still be in pretty good shape. My sister Kathleen has a 45% hearing loss in one ear--she had surgery a couple of years ago--I think to implant an artificial stirrup--but still has the hearing loss, and now occasional tinnitus! My hearing is fine, but I've always been very nearsighted--have worn glasses since 2nd grade.

Wow--there's so much to say, but I'm rambling. Perhaps this is enough for now. I would like to write you occasionally, but will understand if you would rather I don't. Please understand I would never try to intrude in your life or do anything to upset you. I am just so grateful a loving family adopted you, and that you have been able to do well for yourself.

You are the only child I ever had. Whether your mother had more children later, I don't know, but you were her first-born. I was 25 years old. She was 23.

I'd be pleased to tell you more about myself, my life, etc. if you care to correspond. Maybe at this time we can follow the old AA adage of living "one day at a time."

Love,
Bennett

6 comments:

a friend said...

I finally had a chance to sit down and read your entries. I saved it for a time when I could actually sit, enjoy and give it undivided attention. I LOVE it! Not only did it bring tears to my eyes, not for sadness but for sheer sweetness as I am overjoyed and priviledged that you would share such a beautiful true story with me and hopefully many others. You are such a gift...thanks for being an inspiration.

G.H. said...

The letters are absolutely beautiful. I honestly cannot stop crying. I am not sure why. I have to get a tissue! :)

Anonymous said...

WOW....Our stories are so similar but, so different at the same time. I have so enjoyed reading your entries and can't wait to read more!

Parker said...

Thank you for your kind words. I'd love to hear more about your adoption experiences sometime. Please let me know if you have a blog, or shoot an email to me at parker@fni.com, if you're open to sharing more of your story.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

J.W. said...

I want more! I want more!

Did you ever meet him? Does he know what you look like? Oh! The intrigue!

I can't wait for this book to come out. My book club will devour it! We have a couple of people in our club who were adopted, and I can just imagine the discussion that will ensue!

O.k. Now don't really answer my questions right here. I want to enjoy it as it unfolds. Just get it out quickly, would you?!

Parker said...

Thanks for your enthusiasm! :)

I get those questions a lot. I don't want to spoil it for you.

But I love this discussion in general... what would YOU do?

1. If you were adopted, would you want to seek out your biological parents?

2. What if you found out one of them was in prison for bank robbery? Would that change your feelings about a reunion? Why?

3. Would you have contact with the felon's family? At least send them a picture?

And there are so many more great discussion points. I'll have fun writing a "book club guide" once I'm done writing the actual book!

It would be fun some day to host a month-long discussion via "Barnes and Noble University."

If you're not familiar with this, check it out. I'm excited to start participating in this month's group that's focusing on the book, "The Kite Runner," see http://educate.barnesandnoble.com/educate/bn/home/catalog/Materials.jsp?productId=41458 for more. It's free!