The clues to who I was and how I came to be were in a big trunk filled with random photos in a dark and dusty outdoor dwelling not far from our house.
As a child I liked to kneel in front of it and sift through these black and white photos. Peer into their faces and wonder who they were.
The photo of one little girl in a stiff looking dress with one leg crossed underneath her particularly captivated me. Something about the shape of her dark eyes seemed a bit familiar.
No one wanted me sifting through that big trunk. But I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
I don’t know why they didn’t just put a padlock on it if they didn’t want me asking questions about the people I found inside.
I eventually figured out that the little girl was my mother, but no one talked about her.
(My Mother & Father)
I think she was a lost soul who grew up asking her own questions about who she was and where she came from. Someone who shared the family’s blood but didn’t quite fit in.
As soon as she was old enough, I hear she walked away from all the secrets and headed to the highway to catch a ride out of town. Someone said my father was the trucker who happened to pick her up.
The photos I now have of him tells me he liked attention, fancy cars and his arm around a pretty woman.
I get the feeling that my family thought he was an unsavory character. But then I never met him and he’s been dead for many years. So all of this is based on snippets of conversation and little else.
I think my mother was one of those pliable creatures searching for love in all the wrong places who just wanted someone to love and protect her. Because it was patently obvious that she couldn’t take care of herself, much less any of the six children she gave birth to that were scattered around the country like leaves caught up in a wind storm.
I’ve only met her a few times and the last time was well over thirty years ago. But you get a feeling about people though you only hear others whisper about them when they think no one is listening.
When I gazed at her photo, what I recall is that I didn’t see light in her eyes. I didn’t see happiness or mischief. I saw someone devoid of spirit before she was even six years old.
She was easy fodder for charming older men with fancy cars who were probably father figures. (She never had a father either. Or rather, to my knowledge no one knew who he was.)
Over the years, mostly the latter years, I have been able to piece the mystery together here and there. Though I’ve never acquired enough of the puzzle pieces to fully understand what happened or why.
I was apparently just born at the wrong time to the wrong people. And that’s about as much as I’ll ever truly know.
As the old song by Johnny Lee goes, some look for love in all the wrong places. That’s how I think of my mother.
And I guess I’d have to admit that I fit into that category as well.
“Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,
Lookin’ for love in too many faces,
Searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces
Of what I’m dreamin’ of.