Thursday, August 18, 2005

Maybe some day...

In a letter from Ben after a few years of writing:

I will continue to write you through Joan Wilcox at the adoption agency, as I continue on with my "adventure"--without naming places, locations, etc. Naturally, my hope is still to sit down with you some day over a cup of coffee. However, I have come to terms with the fact that that is not how it will be now. But who knows, perhaps when I am 90 and you are 65, we can get together and reminisce over the good old days?

I love you very much. Your letters have been an inspiration and an affirmation for me. I have sometimes felt like you were brightening the picture a bit--if so, I believe your motive was simply to encourage me and not cause me worry, admirable qualities in a daughter. My love and thanks go out to your parents for helping raise a wonderful girl.

Love, Ben

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jailhouse Pals

(From Ben in the pen...)

My job continues to go well. I've acquired something of a miracle worker status with mathematices, in that my previously slow students are now passing their G.E.D. tests. The boys in my dorm come to me in the evening for extra help--which I'm glad to give. It feels so good to be useful and finally putting my education to use!

My spiritual life continues to be enhanced. It seems that when I do "the right thing" and follow basic Biblical teaching that my life has a more substantial quality, and I seem to be more sane.

For example, last week I heard there was a "big guy" grumbling because he saw me wearing his shirt. I had found the shirt in a pile of old clothes weeks before. I was perturbed, but than the Biblical routine about giving a man the shirt of your back--plus your cloak came to me. I sighed, went to the big fella with a smile, and said, "Here's your shirt." He said, "Oh, thank you, by the way, you can have the one I've been wearing in the meantime." Turns out I got a newer shirt that fits me better. Funny how things work out. Plus, now he and I are old buddies, where we hadn't really been acquainted before.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Call

One phone call changed everything. It was an ordinary Saturday, but it's amazing to me how every little nuance about that day has been forever forged in my memory. The smell of coffee and bacon lingered in our little apartment from breakfast. Dust particles danced in early morning sunlight, streaking through vertical blinds that opened onto a small deck. The air conditioner hummed, adding to the laziness of the weekend. My husband occasionally dozed off while watching a random sporting event on television.

The phone rang, breaking through the laid-back atmosphere. I could see my husband wasn't going to move, so I pulled myself away from the newspaper to answer it. It was some woman named Joan from the agency that handled my adoption. My instant reaction was that they must have been calling for a donation. I quickly found out otherwise. She told me my biological father was looking for me--that he wanted to meet me.

I jumped in before she could say anything else.

"Did you send him my letter? I sent a letter… about a year ago… it tells my biological parents that I turned out okay, but that I really don't want to meet them." My heart pounded in my chest.

She said she hadn't seen the letter. I panicked. If she can't find the letter, I wondered, what else is going to be screwed up in this process? I heard paper rustling in the background. Joan said she was holding a letter from him. Did I want her to read some of it to me?

Wow. I couldn't believe it. I was curious, but I didn't want to open Pandora's box. I didn't want to know too much. Not yet, anyway. I needed to process this. I asked her to read it, but to withhold the names or any identifying information. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. It was all so surreal. I needed to ground myself by taking notes.

Joan began, "Well, I suppose I should start by telling you something that may be a little bit troubling to you," her tone was hesitant. I braced myself. "He's in prison. Apparently he's a severe alcoholic. He says he robbed a bank." I wrote down "prison--robbed a bank" mechanically, as if I could forget that tidbit of information.