“I am a little old woman who lives in an assisted living facility…” her email began.
Her following message was about the length of “War and Peace.” She is a woman who is as sweet as Karo syrup. But — and I mean this respectfully — brevity is not her strong suit. Reading her email took me three or four presidential administrations.
“I had a baby when I was 14…” she wrote.
The 14-year-old gave birth in the singlewide trailer that belonged to an aunt. The delivery was in secret. Nobody knew her son existed. Least of all her immediate family.
Finally, the aunt put the child up for adoption. It was impractical for a girl of 14 to raise a child. This was a different era.
The goodbye between mother and son was almost too much to bear. The 14-year-old held her infant in her arms when officials came to take him away.
Over time, the girl grew into a woman. The woman grew into a wife. The wife had three kids. The wife’s husband made decent money.
She moved into a nice house. Her children did pretty good in school. Her offspring grew up to be successful and handsome and beautiful and well-off and happy. Fill in the blank.
But the woman had a void in her heart.
“A child is a piece of you, physically. Like an organ. People who’ve never had kids can’t understand.”
She dreamed about her son. Every night. Without fail. In her dreams, she could see him. She watched him grow. She saw saw his smile. She heard him speak. Once again, she cannot explain what she means. But she tries.
“It’s like a radar,” she explains. “My soul was sending out a radar signal, and I think God was sending me radar signals back.”
I took a break from reading the email. I still had 78,000,000 words left to read before finishing her story.
So I’ll hit the highpoints.
On her son’s 42nd birthday, she had an unusually vivid dream. This dream was the strangest one she ever had.
In this dream, an old man told her to search for her lost son. It was undoubtedly an angel, the woman believes. He wore the quintessential white gown. He had the shining halo. The whole celestial enchilada.
The next morning, she contacted an agency who helped with this sort of thing. It didn’t take long to find her son.
Her son was living in Texas. And for the purposes of this story, let’s just say he was an important guy. A very, very important guy.
The agency gave her his address. She made no calls. She gave her son’s family no advanced warning. She simply got in her car and drove to Texas. Alone.
“I didn’t want my husband or my kids to go with me,” she said. “This was something I had to do.”
She arrived at a nice house. She got through the gate by saying, “I don’t need an appointment, he’ll want to meet me, I promise.”
In a few moments, a man came down the stairs. It was him all right. She would have known him anywhere. She’d watched him grow up in her mind’s eye.
“Do I know you?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “But I know you.”
She began to cry. “It’s a very long story,” she said.
The man, unexpectedly, began to cry along with her. He apparently understood what was going on here. “Are you my mother?” he said in a kind of shellshock.
All she could do was nod.
They embraced. And there on the porch of a sprawling Texan estate, they dehydrated themselves, snug in each other’s arms.
“I always knew you’d find me,” he said.
“How did you know?” she said.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy if I tell you.”
“I’ve been dreaming about you every night since I was a baby.”
In an age when it’s hard to believe in anything good, when crisis and insanity rule the airwaves, when visions of hell are the only things television journalists can report on. I am glad — no, I am eternally grateful — for little old ladies in assisted living facilities who write extremely long emails.