The insurmountable anger that I feel right now is indescribable. My blood is boiling and for once on my journey, I’m allowing myself to feel angry. I have been on a long road to discovery, searching for answers from the past, anything to help me understand who I am. My mother died twenty years ago. Cancer took over her body like a flood takes over the earth, killing everything in its path. Often times when I think of my mother, it’s like I’m thinking of a stranger, when I close my eyes, I can see a petite woman with black hair and a basic outline of her face, but, the intricate details, I have long forgotten. Over the years, I have tried to do everything I could to figure out who my mother was.
It has taken me a long time to muster up the courage to drudge up the past and look for anyone who has had a connection with my mother. My first thought was my grandfather, I knew roughly where he lived and his second wife’s name, so, it was easy to find him. I quickly realized that I was to late, my grandfather died 6 years ago, and his wife died this past year. In my deep and frustrating google search, I came across my grandfathers wife’s obituary, a lovely description of a wonderful life once lived with her late husband William. I sat back in my chair and let out a sigh, I knew there was a possibility he would be gone but I was holding on to a small shred of hope. I took a moment to mourn his passing, but, much like a lot of my relatives, he was a mere stranger to me and the connection just wasn’t there. I searched and searched for my grandfathers obituary, something that I could hold onto, something that could lead me to the answers that I’ve been longing for, but, it was to no avail, my grandfather didn’t have an obituary. I later would find out that a divide in the family caused a major rift between step mother and step daughter. When my grandfather passed, his wife decided it was best not to share the news with his daughter, therefore, no obituary was ever written.
I felt like I was back at square one, but, thinking of the rift between my aunt and my grandfathers wife, made me realize that I was looking for the answers in all the wrong places. I needed to start with my mother, I needed to look into any information from when she died. That would be the most recent information regarding any familial or non-familial connection that she may of had, so, I searched for her obituary. Thankfully, this was an easy task considering I knew when she died, where she died and more importantly where she was buried. Among many others, my aunt was listed as a survivor of the deceased in my mother’s obituary. This was it, all I needed to do was find my aunt and I would have all of the answers I ever wanted.
Once again, I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of potential hits on google. I knew my aunt was married, but, I wasn’t sure what her husbands name was, as he was not mentioned in the obituary. I came across a white pages listing for a man living in an area that I was certain was where my aunt was currently residing. After diving in a little deeper, I discovered a listing with my aunts name as a possible relative of this man along with a phone number. I took a gamble. First, I called the number, but, given the substantial amount of solicitors that harass the general population on a regular basis, I decided it was best to send a text message explaining who I am and why I’m reaching out. I felt like a crazy person and this was definitely a long shot. A few hours later I get a phone call and I was shocked to discover that this was indeed the person I have been looking for. It was my cousin, his mother was my aunt on my moms side. We had a long conversation and he seemed eager to help me with whatever I needed. He finally got me in touch with my aunt, I was nervous, yet, excited to talk with her.
I soon received a message from my aunt, unfortunately, her reaction to me finding her wasn’t exactly the reaction I was hoping for. Although she was happy to hear from me, she was “hesitant” to talk with me. I have been trying to be patient with her but, truthfully, my frustration is growing by the minute. I don’t understand her hesitation, what is she hiding? Something doesn’t add up, something just doesn’t make sense and I am determined to figure out the secrets she clearly has been holding onto for years. I was on the verge of giving up when, for some reason, I decided to call the hospital of which my mother died.
I was truly shocked when I was informed that my mother did indeed have records at this hospital. She has been gone for so long, I was sure any information would have been destroyed by now. I went through the long, and tedious process of acquiring her medical records. The amount of paperwork you need for a hospital to release medical records of someone who has been dead for 20 years is beyond me. It took me a few months to collect everything that I needed but, I managed. A few days ago, I finally received any and all records that the hospital may have had.
I would sit, staring at the manilla envelope for hours. This information could tell me exactly what life was like for my mother during her last few years before she died. I pulled the paperwork out and started reading, my hands were shaking, I don’t know why I was so anxious. Most pages read the same, “1996, very kind, petite woman admitted for such and such, 1998, a young petite woman admitted for such and such,” it was repetitious, but, I couldn’t stop reading. The memories that started flooding back from that time was overwhelming, but, some of my questions were finally answered. After a while, I started reading slower, taking in everything I was reading and that’s when I saw it, that is when I discovered the devastating news, the news that would crack this case wide open, exposing all of the crooked people in my life. You see, I was always under the impression that my fathers alcoholism and bipolar/schizophrenia disorder was exacerbated or triggered rather, by my mother’s passing, but, I was sorely mistaken.
In 1996, my mother was admitted to the hospital for complications related to her recent cancer diagnoses. Like all intakes, the admitting nurse did a very thorough job describing the patient, her history and a head to toe physical exam. I get through the first section of the admission paperwork and move onto the social history, this is where I realized that my whole life I have been lied to by everyone. The social history reads as follows, “this female is married, the husband is diagnosed with bipolar disorder plus obsessive/compulsive alcoholic with suicidal tendencies.” This was two years before my mother died. My heart sank to the floor, this was beyond devastating. This would mean that when my mother died, everyone knew my father had problems. My father was 35 years old when my mother died, who in their right mind would think that a young man with bipolar disorder, alcoholism and suicidal tendencies was fit to raise seven kids on his own. I’m angry because everyone seems so surprised when they discover the horrific things my father had done to himself and to his children. At this point, it would be impossible for me to believe that no one knew the condition my father was in prior to my mother’s passing.
I have been struggling with this information for a few days. I have more questions now than ever before. Why? Why was the needs of one man put before the needs of innocent children. I understand he just lost his wife and the last thing he needed was to lose his children, but, to turn a blind eye to the potential harm he could/would cause, is infuriating. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, everyone failed us, left us with a sick man, knowing the seriousness of his illness. Is this what my aunt has been hiding, is she hesitant to talk with me because she is overwhelmed with guilt. I am in utter disbelief as I try and process my latest discovery.