This was one of the best and most unusual weeks of my life. On Wednesday I flew to Florida to meet some of my birth family, including my grandmother. Excitement and nervousness jockeyed for position in my mind. How would this go? Would they accept me? It’s one thing to talk on the phone and exchange emails, yet another to meet face to face.
After checking in to our hotel and getting some lunch, it was time for meeting #1, my aunt and uncle. As soon as we pulled into their driveway, my uncle appeared on the porch with a big smile on his face. As I approached him, he welcomed me and opened the door. My aunt stood just inside. With tears in her eyes, she gave me a big hug. I heard my uncle saying that as I got out of the car, it could have been Jeannie (my birth mother).
We had a delightful time looking at pictures and telling stories. Laughter punctuated the conversation. It was a great start to our visit. After supper, we went to the assisted living facility where my grandmother lives. She was excited to meet me. As she turned in her chair to see me, she shook her head and said, “Oh my.” For a few seconds she just stared at me. Then she took my hands in hers and said, “It’s my Jeannie.” She looked so happy. We hugged and then talked about her life and stories of Jeannie growing up. It was great.
The next day, we all went to visit my great aunt, who is 99. She stared at me for a few seconds, too, before saying to my grandmother, “That’s your Jeannie.” We had an amazing time with the two of them. More stories, more laughter. So many times when I laughed or did something, they would say, “that’s Jeannie.” It was amazing.
As I said goodbye to my grandmother that night, she hugged me tight and said, “I love you.” At first I wondered how she could love me–she doesn’t really know me. But in an instant I understood why she could say that. I’m her granddaughter. Just like I love my grandchildren, even though I don’t know yet who they will be. From the moment I first saw them, I loved them. Really from the moment I knew about them, before they were born, I loved them. This visit was the meeting most of us have at the hospital, peering into the nursery, figuring out whose nose she has. My grandmother didn’t have that, but she often wondered about me and my life, and she loved me. It was easy for her say “I love you” because she has for 53 years.
The nerves have been replaced with a sense of overwhelming blessing. What a gift to have more people in my life who love me.