The day after the funeral Ruth and I had set up a lunch meeting. The day of the meeting, my brother was so nervous for me (worse than I was) that he insisted on going with me. I think he was really worried that I was going to be hurt. When we got to the restaurant he didn’t want to intrude, so he sat at a table a few tables away from mine and Ruth’s table.
I walked up to the table and there they were…Ruth, my half-sister Shannon, and my biological grandfather – Grandpa Bill. Ruth got up and hugged me. To me it seemed a little like coming home. She told me that I felt exactly how she remembered me feeling when she held me that one time in the hospital. Everyone was really nice but you could tell that we were all very nervous.
Looking at Ruth I could see where a lot of my looks had come from. To put it as a former boss of mine put it….I had her same “squinty eyes, pointy nose, and thin lips”…hahaha! Really, there was a lot of me that did look just like her. It was very strange for me because I had never been able to say “oh I have my momma’s eyes, or my daddy’s nose” like my friends could. Now I could say that too. From the picture of himself that Jurgen had sent me, I could see where some features came from him as well. Especially my prematurely graying hair! He has this long mane of salt and pepper hair.
Another thing I could immediately see was that there were some features that Shannon and I shared too.
We spent a couple of hours just sitting there talking. It was a big relief for Ruth to be talking too. There was this complete void of years where in Ruth’s life I never even existed except for her. Ruth’s mother, my biological grandmother, had died of breast cancer the year before I found Ruth. Ruth and her mother had never talked about the fact that Ruth had had a baby in the 30 years since I was born. It was like it had never occurred. Ruth even went so far as to say that if her mother had still been alive when she had been contacted by Betty, she would never have agreed to even writing letters.
After Betty contacted Ruth and Ruth had decided to go forward with writing letters, she had talked to her father. He was very willing to discuss my existence and was very excited to meet me. Grandpa Bill had even written an “autobiography” after his wife’s death and ended up copying it and sending me one. It was so much information about where I came from and who these people were that were my physical relatives but whom I didn’t know.
The meeting was everything that I could have hoped for. I know some people who haven’t been through this probably were expecting me to say that we saw each other and it was just like a fairy tale. However, this is real life and there were a lot of considerations on both parts.
First, I still had a mother and a father. Ruth was never going to take their place, nor did she want to. Second, Ruth and I are very different people. I can so clearly see the grace of God in His putting me with the parents he did. I’m a very free-spirited person and my parents were the perfect mix of nurturing and strict. They kept me in line and my feet on the ground. Ruth is very permissive. She grew up in the 60’s and definitely has that type of values and beliefs. She allowed Shannon to go to school or not as she wanted to and even eventually allowed her to drop out. I do not see any way that I would have ended up a decent, hardworking individual, much less a believer, staying in the environment I would have been raised in. I do not say this to criticize Ruth; I say this to give God the glory in His perfect plans and ways.
I think the biggest thing I got from finding Ruth and Jurgen was a profound sense of gratefulness to my parents for the way they loved and raised me as their own and gratefulness to God for His lovingkindness in my life.
I look back at my life and can see that I would have never met my husband, had my children, became a Christian had I not been given up for adoption. So the second thing I got from finding Ruth and Jurgen was a profound respect for the decisions they made concerning me. There were other decisions they could have made: abortion or keeping me and raising me….but they choose to make the ultimate sacrifice and give me to a couple who couldn’t have children of their own. And for that I will always be grateful and love them for it.
In the years since this time, I have kept in touch with Ruth. We email back and forth some and I have tried to talk to her some about her beliefs but she isn’t interested in that subject at all. I enjoy talking to her and we both share a love of reading and books and that fuels a lot of our discussions.
Grandpa Bill died several years after our meeting. We corresponded until his death and I really enjoyed getting to know him. I do wish I could have known him better. He was an interesting and sweet man.
Shannon ended up dropping out of high school, getting a job, and finally ended up getting married. We had a pretty good relationship started for awhile but it has kind of just faded away. She knows I’m here if she needs me but I’m sure it’s as hard for her as it is for me.
I haven’t really talked to Jurgen in years. He is a very free-spirited person and it has been hard to keep in touch. Bella went through a time when she was in high school where she and Jurgen wrote to each other a lot. Bella enjoys writing poetry and that is primarily what Jurgen does now. They definitely had a lot to talk about.