The handwritten date on top of the faded page read, “Wednesday 1-8-87”, the day my birth-mother and I were reunited after 33 years apart. The handwriting is hers. I have stumbled on six pages of a journal she kept starting that extraordinary January day.
Her very first line collapses me into tears. “Received a phone call that made my life complete tonight.” The phone call she is referring to is the one I made to her from the lobby of the Stamford Motor Inn in Connecticut, no more than five miles from her house. It was our first contact in the world after we were parted by life when I was seven days old.
The phone call was a culmination of a search that had begun only months earlier on October 2, 1986, my 33rd birthday. One of my closest friends in the world, then and now, Dane, was with me. Dane was the perfect companion on this day because he too was adopted.
My mother first thought I was calling to give her bad news about a family member, but then, as she writes, “He said I was born October 2 in the French Hospital in New York. I said, Oh my God, my son Paul – then, please don’t hate me. He said, I don’t hate you Mom. After that it’s a blur. Found out he was just down the street at the (Stamford) Motor Inn….I said I’d be there in 20 minutes. I believe I was there in 10 minutes. Changed my clothes, told my daughter Erin what was going on (I did during the phone conversation), couldn’t find my keys, my glasses… During the phone conversation when I said I’d be there in 20 minutes, Peter (his name is Peter, not Paul) started to tell me what he would be wearing. I said, I’ll know who you are. Also when we were on the phone he said, I’m 33 years old now. I said, I know THAT. I was shaking and don’t really know how I drove the car to meet him.”
“When I got the the Motor Inn he got out of his van and walked towards me, he reminded me of my brother. We hugged and hugged and he said, “Hello Mom, we made it.” I really only heard Mom. “
To read these words for the first time, more than eight years after her death in December 2001, I am reminded to my core how close to two of us became and how close, in a very real way, we always were.
Of all the challenges I’ve ever taken on in my life, searching for and finding my mother, Leona Patricia Clark, is the one I am most proud of and most grateful for. A few pages in she calls me her “personal eighth wonder of the world.” She is certainly mine.