The manuscript lay on the kitchen counter where I had dropped it the day before. That morning, I had dug an old file from a dusty box under the end table on my side of our bed. I opened the file with an old name on it, and dug through the papers there. I found what I was looking for, and I brought it down and wondered if I could bear to read it.
“I found Raynie – I mean Freddie’s Story,” I told Certain Man, dozing in his chair.
He opened his eyes, and the hope was written all over his face. “Really???”
“Really. It’s hard to read because of the typewriter,” I said. “But I think I can make it out.”
Later, in the quiet of my chair, I read the story from beginning to end and the tears slid down my cheeks in rivers as I remembered. I lived the memories all over again, some of which I had honestly forgotten the specifics, some that I remembered differently than they had actually happened, but reading it made me remember as clearly as if it was yesterday. Later that day, Certain Man devoured every word of the single spaced, over eight page document, and I saw him wiping tears as well.
This Story. Our Story. His Story.
The story is of a call late one night on May 31, 1978 that brought us a ten week old baby boy who was “our baby” until his second birthday.
The night he came to our house.
Probably my favorite picture of our little man. 1 Year old
The parting was wrenching to our little family, and there were days I thought I could not bear the grief. We sent a photo album with him when he left, and in the weeks that followed his adoption, I worked feverishly to write His Story for him about the important days that he spent with our family on a little farm in rural Ohio. My typewriter didn’t want to work right, and my heart was breaking. I had to be careful not to use the name that we knew him as, and the new name took concentration to be sure to get it right each time. It felt like the new name somehow flew in the face of the reality of the almost 22 months that we loved him. Where had our baby gone? I finished it, though, and got a copy made and sent the case manager the original to pass on to his adoptive parents. We had one or two messages after he was adopted, via his case manager, but then things went silent and we never heard from him again.
Then last summer, I was trying yet again to find him. I knew his legal name, and had done some sleuthing before, but had never found him. Then I came across a Facebook profile that almost had to be him. I hesitated some time, but finally, in August, sent him a friend request and a message explaining who I was.
There was no response. I didn’t want to offend or rush him, so I decided to wait. Then in early February, I noticed that he had accepted my friend request. H-m-m-m-m-m! I decided to wait a bit longer to see if there was any more movement on his part. Then when I posted the Valentine’s Day post about Certain Man’s and my day, I noticed that he reacted to it. I also saw that he was still active on Facebook at that very time, so I took a chance and messaged him again.
This time, he responded.
I don’t know what to say, I am so humbled and grateful! I have taken this long to reply because I simply don’t know where to start. First, thank you! I had these vivid memories of a man with a beard that I could simply not account for growing up. When I initially read your post I immediately knew it to be true. I would love to meet you and your family in person and thank you for the care you gave me at such a critical time in my life. I wasn’t aware that I was adopted until well into adulthood when my adoptive father was literally on his deathbed. I also just found my biological family four years ago. There is so much I would love to share with you and find out about your life. I have read just about all of your blogs and feel like I know a little bit about you and your kind family, yet I have so many questions. I look forward to learning about you and your family and of course my time with you. Please tell your husband I said hello and I look forward to re-meeting you both soon.
Of course that started a correspondence that filled in a lot of gaps for us as well as for him and it also prompted my looking for his story to copy off and send to him.
It was this copy that was lying on the kitchen table when Middle Daughter came in. She picked it up and read it. “What are you going to do with it, Mama?” she asked.
“I’m sending it to Raynie – or, I mean, Freddie Lee,” I answered.
She hesitated a bit then said, “Aren’t you going to ‘fix it’ a little? Like correct the misspellings and mistakes that you have in it?”
“I didn’t plan to,” I said. “I just thought I would send it like it is.”
“But there are mistakes,” insisted my grammar police daughter. “I just think that you would want to correct the errors and stuff . . .”
“No, Deborah, I don’t . . . ” I thought a bit about why I felt so strongly and then I said, “You know Deborah, when I read that story, I see a 26 year old woman whose heart is breaking, and I feel a deep sadness for her. The typing was on an old typewriter, and it was difficult for her to write. I somehow feel like it needs to be just the way it is. If I write it up for a blog or something sometime, I will at least correct the mistakes, but for now, that was how it was. That was what I wrote. That is what I’m going to send.”
And so I did.
This is only one chapter of the story. Lord willing, there will be more chapters for which his family and our family can write paragraphs together, but even if that doesn’t happen, there is much to be grateful for. There are questions that have been answered. Life has been a journey for him, to be sure, but I’m so grateful to God for watching over “our baby” while we could not. I’m sure there are parts of the story that will hurt my heart, as well as much that will make it sing. But what I hear most of all ringing down these almost 40 years is “Amazing Grace,” and the sound of it is sweet.
And my heart gives humble grateful praise.