WHO AM I?
It’s a silly question for someone at my age.
I am a healthy, physically active and fit 73-year-old woman. I have the energy and stamina of a 60-year-old. I have two daughters who are both healthy. I have three grandsons. One who is afraid to start his life, another who isn’t and the third though only 13 will someday be a rock star. He plays a mean guitar and yearns to play in front of thousands of people. I have had an immensely successful career. I’ve had an addiction problem that I solve one day at a time. I have been divorced. I am now married to a wilderness man who changed the trajectory of my life. We have dogs, we used to have a Great Horned Owl who died a year ago after 18 years with us. I took up knitting a few years ago after a medical event caused by stress from two simultaneous year-long negotiations for clients. The medical event changed the trajectory of my life. I had the incalculable good fortune about the same time I had the medical event to join an intention group with amazing women and one hearty wise man that again changed the trajectory of my life. I am finally happy and at relative peace with the world. I am grateful every day that I had/have the resilience to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
But Who Am I?
I was born in New York City in Mt. Sinai Hospital. I was in a nursery/orphanage until I was three months old or, so I was told. I was adopted by the Sage family from Rochester, NY. I grew up in Pittsford, NY. My parents were relatively well-off. I went to private schools. I grew up in America’s 1950 dream, America’s not mine, and I knew that at an early age. I remember at 7 or 8 hiding under my bed telling myself “I am not of them.” My adoptive parents did their best. At least my father did the best he could. My mother was a horror. If I say that she is Donald Trump in female form, people get it. There was no Donald Trump equivalent in my childhood or even a diagnosis for someone with her behavior. I do not need to detail the insanity of childhood or adulthood with her. She is still alive at 107 in Florida. A person with extreme Narcissistic Personality Disorder infects everyone around them, that’s probably why they live so long. It took 68 years to find inner peace and I haven’t seen her since. It is not cruelty on my part. Our last encounter was demoralizing and soul crushing. She did it in public. It wasn’t the ranting of a demented old woman but the calculated cruelty of someone in her right mind, and that was the final enough for me.
Perhaps the Covid quarantine is what stirred my yearnings. “I am not of them” always lingers in subconscious background noise. I had cataract surgery this past summer, new eyes, new perspective. I have never been able to fill out the medical history form for relatives. I always print in bold letters above that, ADOPTED – no history. Doing that again on the medical eye form triggered a deeper response.
Years ago, I had done the 23AndMe test. I got some kind of unspecific medical notes and equally vague and distant DNA relatives, usually fourth cousin kind of stuff. A few months ago, I decided to do Ancestry which was more revealing. It said I was 49% Scottish and 49% English and Irish mix and about 2% French. It resonated. I have always been drawn to things English/Scottish. It was in Edinburgh that I had what I thought was a heart attack a few weeks after the A-fib event. A wonderful ER doctor held my hand as he pulled his stool closer telling me it wasn’t a heart attack but a panic attack. Looking back, it seems prescient and metaphoric.
According to Ancestry I have a first cousin. I emailed him through Ancestry but never heard back. I have since hired Legacy Tree. I need people who can read DNA and do all the research that would most likely take me years. At 73 I don’t want to waste years.
As I write this, I have butterflies in my stomach. I don’t know what will be revealed. Are my birth parents alive? Do I have siblings? Will I know why I was adopted? All those questions are real but not necessary for this search. More importantly, I need to know my DNA mud. I need to know where I belong. Who were my great grandparents? What was their life trajectory. What was the history, the wanderings of unknown ancestors whose blood runs deep in my veins, whose illnesses match mine, from what patch of earth did I spring?
I used to tell myself it didn’t matter, I finally admit, it does.
The journey begins.