How much about myself do I truly want to know?
In my last post, I said I had finally sent off my Ancestry DNA kit. It had only been hanging around the house since August. I chalked it up to not having the time. But, then again, there was a reluctance. Possibly because I am afraid because I cannot pick out from the stories that have been told me of my parentage what is truth and what is convenient fiction. We shall have to wait 8 or more weeks to see.
This afternoon I am again launching into the unknown about myself – what my various arteries look like that I have not seen because regular insurance does not pay for these tests unless you are already showing symptoms of distress. I think having my maternal grandmother and my birth mother both die of stroke is a symptom of distress. But hey, I don’t run the insurance company.
So this afternoon I will find out the state of my carotid and other arteries through a Lifeline screening. And yes, I am feeling a few trepidations; having a naturally high cholesterol level that is not truly offset by my cholesterol medication or efforts to eat somewhat healthfully, I am a bit worried about what will show up. After all, I am only 4 years younger now than my birth mother was when she died of a sudden and massive stroke.
We did not spend much time together over the years. But when we did, we each searched in the other the “commonalities” that made us mother and daughter. The mother who raised me said my birth mother and I sometimes had the exact same “sneer of disdain” when being told something we did not wish to hear. And everyone insists we look exactly alike, although as she ages I see more of my birth mother in my half-sister Niki’s face than I do my own.
But JoAnne (my birth mother’s name) and I would find weird connections between us: the exact same outfits hanging in our closets; our love of crosswords and reading; certain jewelry that we wore.
We both preferred being blonde, though I suspect that her natural hair color was more the same dirty blondish/brown of my own. Physically we were built the same: short in stature, tiny hands, wrists and ankles; more than ample hourglass shapes between our necks and our knees that seem incongruous with the delicate bone structure that underlie them.
We also shared a lousy taste in men. Enough said.
I didn’t spend enough time with her to find out what more we had in common than this. We were just making that time more frequent when she unexpectedly passed away.
We were raised by the same man, so I am sure we had some of the same fatherly experiences. She hated him. I loved him, but I was well aware of his faults and – whereas she rebelled against him – I trod the “good girl” line expected of me. I knew he loved me, but emotionally and physically he was distant most of the time, living in a world colored by the beer he constantly drank. Bartending is an ideal vocation for the alcoholic.
His anger at her for “getting knocked up” as a teen matched her hatred for him. They could never forgive one another, could never cross that chasm between them. Whether that chasm was me or something else neither would reveal I cannot say.
I wanted to cross the chasm that divided her and I by time and proximity as I grew older, but it was not always easy. Like her father before her, it was not comfortable for her to hug me and shower me with the affection I craved from her. Never once did she say “I am sorry I couldn’t take you with me.” All I got was a bitter assertion that when she left me behind to run off with another man, it wasn’t her fault, she was “made” to give me in custody to her father and his second wife. My point was that when push came to shove, she chose a man over her child. Enough said.
Maybe that is why my son looms so large in my heart, although from the superficial look of it, I put career over time spent with him. But all that I did, I did to provide him with more than I had growing up. I also never chose a man over my child, because like my mother before me, I knew my judgement was lousy wherein that subject lie.
I held him ever so tight to me when he was little that I can still remember what it felt like to this day. I cannot remember JoAnne ever holding me at all.
How much do I resemble my mother? Did the history that separated us also somehow weirdly connect us in ways we searched our souls?
This afternoon I will discover if I may be destined to die as she did. How weird is that?