Stories: Who We Have Lost

Care for a Slice?

Story aboutMother Agnes Chiginsky

My son and I, along with my mom, were celebrating my son’s birthday. We went for pizza and my mom said she wanted a slice. I said we are getting a slice. After a few times she looked at me as if I had lost it! I thought she was the one who lost it!

This went on for a while. The waitress probably thought we both lost it! She wasn’t talking about a slice of pizza. She was talking about the soda Slice!!! If you had heard us though it was like Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on first?” To this day I laugh whenever I think about it and that was over 25 years ago!

Loved my mother! We laughed a lot! Miss those times!

While so many adoptees never manage to find their mothers, or finally find them after they are deceased, I was truly blessed to have found you when I did and it was not easy either, due to sealed records. While it was great to finally meet you and meet my half-siblings too, it was always bittersweet–I saw all you lost in your life, your plans and dreams, because you unexpectedly got pregnant with me, and Roe V Wade would not be decided for another 23 years. You were cheated out of “choice,” autonomy, self-determination, completing your degree at U of L and basically punished and had to live with the aftermath and consequences for the rest of your very long life.

I only lost you this year in 2022 at age 93 ! You outlived your husband of 60 years, your two children, your grand-daughter too, all your neighbors and friends, and by the time you died, there was really no one left to mourn you, except me.

Today is Mother’s Day and yesterday was the Kentucky Derby which was always such a big celebration for you. This is the first Mother’s Day without you and I did not really think I would be feeling this loss today but I do. I appreciate all your sacrifice, not that you had a choice in the matter — your parents decided everything for you and you were forced to submit. I am so glad you did not live to see the loss of Roe V Wade. I know when it passed you were so happy for me, your children’s generation. I know how happy that decision in 1973 made you because you knew your two daughters would not be forced to endure what you had to back in 1950. I am just glad I chose never to have kids — that is my great consolation in life– no child of mine will ever die in a war, ever die in childbirth, ever be subjected to incest and rape, and then be forced to suffer even more. Happy Mother’s Day Mom — May you finally find peace; you truly earned it.

While I didn’t get to see Babe as often as I would have liked–living first in NY and then in CA for most of the time since 1977 when I finally found him when I was 26, I am very proud to have had him for “my Dad” and getting to know Andrew & Maggie, his grandkids, when they were smaller on Saturday mornings. I always loved listening to his stories and admired him for his “Big Brother” volunteerism and that tennis tournament he ran in the summers too. I really know he helped many people in Lexington and was a huge blood donor too–5 gallons or something like that–He enjoyed listening to Willie Nelson and we had that in common too.

I cherish the memories of Babe — I truly do. My birthday is in May — I will be 71 on May 19th. With Father’s Day coming up in June–I decided to revisit Babe’s obituary. I appreciate all the kind words people wrote. He was well loved and it is nice how many people whose lives he touched; such nice things they posted. I miss him now more than ever–that will never go away I guess.
Angela Gott
Daughter
May 8, 2022 which is also Mother’s Day this year

Yellow Roses

Story aboutLaVerne Terry

A few years ago, on 9/11, which is, ironically, my birthday, I woke up at college by a phone call from my family. My parents’ home, a single-wide trailer that they’d built on over time, was engulfed in flames. The next day, when I made my way back to them, there was little remaining but burnt pieces of tin that used to be a roof. My mom, who had been up all night, was crying, asking “Why, why?”

It was hard not to notice that the fire had even taken the yard and garden along with my mom’s rose bushes that she’d tended to for years. She loved them. She was always trying to make things beautiful, and see the bright side even when it seemed impractical to do so, and flowers were a part of that.

My mother’s favorite song was “Roses Will Bloom Again.” When I remember, I can hear her singing the lyrics “Roses will bloom again, just wait and see”. Often, she’d sing this as a reminder that things will get better, and it had meaning because despite the fact that we didn’t grow up with a lot of money, she always made sure that we had a stable home where we felt supported and loved.

Recently, I was digging through my archive of old video footage and I found something that surprised me. It was video of my mother, a year before she died, showing me the rose bush at the end of the driveway, the one my sister and I had bought to replace the bushes that had burned up.

The new bush that we’d planted was pink or red – I can’t remember exactly. But oddly enough, when the bush began to flower, the roses were yellow. The color of hope and light and happiness. My mom was amazed. That’s what she’s showing us in the video, her joy that they’d transformed themselves. It seemed to be a sign at the time that things would get better — a little miracle that happened to us after losing so much.

This year we’ve had a cold spring and the roses haven’t bloomed yet on the bush at the end of the driveway. We’ve developed a new tradition of clipping a rose and bringing it to lay atop my mother’s grave. There won’t yet be a fresh yellow bloom to bring for this Mother’s Day, but that’s ok. We’ll return in a month or so, because like the song says, “Roses will bloom again, just wait and see.” My mother was right about that, and so many other things. That’s how I like to remember her: tending to the garden, singing those lyrics, and smiling. I love you, Mom.

Best Uncle Ever

Story aboutBrian Hawkins

I didn’t have a great childhood, but when I think of happy moments, they were at my grandparents.
Uncle still lived there, and he had a ton of games. Video games. Board games. Novelty versions of Monopoly and Clue. We didn’t have to beg him, if he said he’d play with us, he would. We’d play for hours and he didn’t complain. He’d let us win.

Sometimes, on snow days, he’d call off so we wouldn’t drive our grandpa crazy begging him to play a game with us or to go outside and help build a snowman. Uncle would do that. Once, I’d been really sick when we got snow. All I wanted to do was build a snowman. He built me one where I could see it from the window.

When my brother and I got older, he’d take us to the movies with him and his friends on the weekend. We’d go out to eat afterwards. The last movie I saw with him before I got married was The Muppets. I’d grown up with him sharing his love for the old Muppet show with me. He had all the movies. If he wasn’t going to the movies that weekend, he’d take us to the comic shop. He’d let us hang out in his room, reading comics and telling us the history of different characters. He always had trivia about comics or movies.

After I got married, I’d still hang out with him or he’d come over with a movie he thought my husband or I would like. A little toy of our favorite characters, later our kids’ favorite characters. Just like he did with me, Uncle would watch movies and play games with his two grand-nieces. They considered him their best friend. He was always willing to play with them or listen to them go on and on about stuff that’s important to little kids. Just like with me, it didn’t matter how tired he was. If he could make someone’s day better by being there, he did just that.

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