On the Road with MOM-Excerpts from Abandoned in Search of Rainbows
Naples, Florida is behind us now. It’s the summer before my fortieth birthday, and Mom and I are driving cross-country in her car with the stuff she chose to keep with her rather than send along with the moving van. We’re heading to the Vegas condo I found for her in The Lakes, only ten minutes away from the rental house I share with Shannon and Kyle.
It’s a busy time for Avatar, my company, but I’m not concerned about being away from it. One thing I know for sure about myself is that the busier I become, the more I can take on. And right now, what matters most to me is that I convinced Mom to make this move. I need to watch over her, be there for her. God knows she’s always been there for me. Well, except for that one time. I look over at her and take in her sadness, her aches and pains.
I want so much for her to be happy. And because I’m in the driver’s seat right now, I’m working some magic. We’re singing together. I glance over and catch a little sparkle gleaming from her baby blues that once upon a time dazzled every beholder. To see her smile like that still takes my breath away.
Mom reaches over to my arm and suddenly asks, “You still have it? The article?”
“Not on me,” I tell her. “But I still have it. At home.” I decide not to mention that I also still have it in my head. Without realizing it, I had memorized effortlessly every word of it. I know where Mom’s going with this, and it makes sense. Mom wants to talk now, not sing. She wants to go down memory lane while we’re on this trip.
“Go ahead, honey,” she says. “You start.”
I look over and see she’s tearing up. “Okay if we start at the beginning again?” That’s usually where we start because the truth is we both know I can never hear her tell these stories often enough, even though by now I know all of them not only by heart but also backwards and forwards.
Mom leans against the passenger window, closing her eyes. “My God, Kim,” she says, and though I’m passing a truck, I can hear her smile. Mom continues. “I’ll never forget that moment,” she says, “the moment I turned the page, and there was your precious little face. And I’ll never forget what happened after that, every step of the way.”
Betty is no longer on this physical plane. The memories of her are as fresh as yesterday. My love for her as strong as the the day we first met…
Excerpts from Abandoned in Search of Rainbows
The next afternoon, the weather returned to cold and cloudy. Betty had arranged for Chip to go to a friend’s house after school and for Bob to leave the office early for their three o’clock appointment to meet their little girl.
When they arrived right on schedule, Dave was there to greet them. He ushered Betty and Bob upstairs and into a wood-paneled room with four large windows that let in little light due to the dark cloud cover outside.
There was something cold and unsettling about the moment. Most chilling of all were the heart-wrenching sounds of a child’s misery that was emanating from a crib at the back of the room.
My mother’s recollection of that moment is that she saw Dave roll his eyes and nod as if to say, Yup. That’s the baby! That’s the one you’ve come to see. He then motioned for them to go ahead, saying, “See for yourself.”
Bob took Betty’s hand, and as they approached the crib in the far corner under the window, they saw me, a fifteen-month-old baby girl, lying on her back, rubbing her eyes, and shrieking to beat the band. They had dressed me in a simple, off-white dress. I had on one pink bootie but had already kicked off the other.
“Oh the poor darling,” Betty whispered as tears dripped from her eyes.
Bob took charge and immediately tried to calm me down by removing his wristwatch and swinging it in front of me. But it didn’t work. I wailed even louder.
From behind them, Dave proclaimed, “I told you.”
Betty spun around. “Please!” she snapped. “Don’t talk like that!” “Well, I tried to warn you on the phone.”
“Yes you did, and I told you we don’t care about all of that. We
want her. She’s our little girl, and we don’t care where she came from or that she doesn’t look like us or anything else!” Then Betty turned her attention to me again. “It’s okay, honey,” she said. “We’re here now. You don’t need to cry.”
So then Dave backed away, and even though I was still kicking and screaming, Bob lifted me from the crib, and before handing me over to Betty, he planted gentle kisses all over my birthmarks. When I was nestled in Betty’s arms, she began to sing a lullaby.
I was still bawling my eyes out at first, but as she continued to sing and to sway me from side to side in a nice wide arc, my sobbing lessened, and then, when I was merely whimpering, I finally opened my big brown eyes and looked up at her. When our eyes locked, the crying abruptly stopped. Just like that! And, just like that, I gave her a great big smile.
In that magical moment between mother and child, Betty and I forged a bond that was nothing short of unbreakable, the kind of bond that simply had to last for . . . ever.