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Now browsing: Hometown News > Opinion > Brevard County

Mother's Day holds special meaning
Rating: 4.27 / 5 (95 votes)  
Posted: 2013 May 10 - 06:35

By Amanda Anderson

Staff Writer

Along with spring flowers, May brings Mother's Day. The two are inexplicably beautiful and seem destined to coincide with one another. I have always enjoyed celebrating Mother's Day.

My mother, Kathy, is gorgeous, youthful, intelligent and caring -- everything I would ever want to be as a mother.

Each year on Mother's Day, my family also celebrates our grandmothers. Since I was born, I knew my father's mother, Delores -- or "Nana," as we call her.

My mom's mother, however, had already passed, but I grew up hearing stories about her.

My personal favorite was the time she was making sandwiches for my mom, two uncles and grandfather. As a joke, she put plastic cheese on their sandwiches and filled their lemonades with plastic ice with flies in the middle.

She was a hysterical woman, with the beauty of Jackie O, but cancer took her away from my mother at the tender age of 6.

When I was about 8 years old, I learned that the grandmother, whom I had heard stories about for years, was not, in fact, my biological grandmother.

My mother was adopted at birth by this woman, whom had become a legend to me, and her husband -- my beloved "Pop-Pop."

I never thought much about my mom being adopted until my Pop-Pop succumbed to the same fate as his wife, cancer. Shortly after his death, my mother wrote to Catholic Social Charities in Philadelphia, Penn., where she was born and placed for adoption, for non-identifying information regarding her birth family.

When we received the paperwork, I was captivated.

I have always been the wildcard in my family. Do not take that wrong, as I love being the "top banana in the shock department," as Holly Golightly would say, but I have always been different.

My eyes at birth were a brilliant blue, which turned emerald green at the age of 5; my parents, however, have brown eyes. I have also been much more outspoken and artsy than my often conservative parents.

As I read through the non-identifying information Catholic Social Charities sent us, I learned that MY grandmother had blue eyes -- perhaps I have her eyes! MY grandmother was an actress -- perhaps this is where I get my talent from.

The words on that paper, although as blunt as Hemmingway, were fuel enough for my starving imagination.

For years, I imagined what my grandmother was like, who she was, the kind of life that she lead.

I threw myself into the interests we shared, feeling a connection to a woman I had never met and didn't even know if she was still alive today.

This woman became my inspiration, and I knew I had to find her.

At the tender age of 12, I decided to write Oprah a letter about my grandmother. From what I knew, Oprah was like Aladdin's genie and could grant any wish.

Although I finished the letter, I tucked it away in my desk drawer and never sent it in; I guess I was afraid to find this woman, whom I loved, even though I wouldn't know her if I passed her on the street.

Life continued, friends were made and lost, hearts were won and broken.

After graduating high school, I stayed in Melbourne to attend Brevard Community College before setting off for UCF to finish my bachelor's degree in English.

It was shortly before Thanksgiving 2007 when my life completely changed.

I was on my way home from Orlando when my mother called with astounding news.

"Amanda, I think I found my birth parents," she said.

I listened for half an hour in my car, as she told me about her discovery. After an insurance adjuster left our house, she found information, which did not include the identity of my grandmother, which Catholic Social Charities had supplied us with, along with a critical piece -- my mother's ORIGINAL birth certificate.

Curious, my mother entered in key tidbits from the documents into Google, and Pandora's Box opened with a magical surprise.

Within a mere 15 minutes, my mother found her entire family -- paternal and maternal grandparents, her father, her brother and sister, and the woman I had felt such a connection to, my mother's mother.

Astounded, I urged my mother to contact these people. Surely, it was them and she should at least see if they would be willing to talk.

After much deliberation, my mother decided to write this family a letter. In it, she said she was curious to see if they had any information about her birth family and that she was willing to connect on whatever level they felt comfortable with.

My mother did not want to disrupt their lives and urged them that she had an extremely happy life and wanted nothing more than a connection with them

That letter was mailed on a Monday. On Wednesday, we received a call.

While on the phone, my mom tends to pace around the house -- something I have noticed I do, as well. This phone call, however, confined my mother to my little sister's bedroom.

Something was awry, and I needed to be a part of it. I picked up the receiver and quickly put it on mute, as to not be detected.

The woman, whom my mother talked to, had the most melodic voice that sent a chain reaction through my nervous system. My blood pressure rose and my mind became clear, simultaneously.

It was the most interesting moment of my life, and I knew that it was my grandmother on the other end.

Six years and six Mother's Days have gone by since that first phone call. Today, we are fully a family again.

My mother and grandmother wrote about their lives, how adoption affected them and their reunion nearly 44 years later in their book, "Secret Storms."

My mother was given up for adoption reluctantly by my grandmother Julie, a Main Line debutant, who found herself pregnant at 19 by the only man she ever loved.

Throughout her pregnancy, "Granny" was locked away in one of Philadelphia's mental hospitals; her parents placed her there in the hope of Granny electing to have a therapeutic abortion, as abortions were otherwise illegal at the time.

After giving birth to my mother, Granny left her home on the Main Line to go to New York City and find my grandfather. Recently divorced from his first wife, Grandpa and Granny married in January 1965 and went on to have two more children, Danielle and Frank, Jr.

Each year on April 19, my mother's birthday, Granny and Grandpa drank a glass of champagne in her honor, and wondered about the life the daughter they never knew lived.

My family was reunited in the city my mother was conceived, New York City. I have never felt so whole in my life as I did then. Since our first meeting, I have caught up on the nearly two decades that passed with these amazing creatures.

On April 13, I was blessed with my grandparents, Aunt Danielle and cousin, Irene at my wedding. My "something borrowed" was my great-great grandmother, Polly Perkins', necklace from the mid-1800s; my grandmother wore it at her coming-out party, my cousin wore it at my cousins coming-out party and, one day, my daughters will wear it for their big day.

Granny, whom I love more than words could ever explain, is my image. While my brown hair and green eyes differ from her blonde hair and blue eyes, we share the same cowlicks in our hair, the same lips, the same voice.

Our minds work in a similar fashion, and we march to the beat of our own drum. Granny and I are both dreamers and poets, two kindred spirits, whose inner thoughts narrate stories.

With a look, we know what the other person is thinking and feeling.

To be connected to a person on such an extreme level is a blessing, and I feel as though I am the luckiest girl alive.

This Mother's Day, I will fire up Skype at my parents' house and video-chat with Granny, who will celebrate her birthday later in the week. She will ask me about what I've been writing lately and will talk to Jeremy, my husband, about his favorite things, airplanes and surfing.

Granny will ask me to send her some stories and blow me kisses through the screen.

Although we live on opposite ends of the country, we are always together in heart. This is why Mother's Day is my favorite holiday.

"Secret Storms" by Julie Mannix Von Zerneck and Kathy Hatfield is available for download on Kindle, on amazon.com, and at all major book retailers.

For more information about "Secret Storms," visit www.secretstorms.com.

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