One goes through a lifetime very sure about one's parentage, or at least I did. You were either born to a mom and dad, or to a single mom, or you were adopted by a family who very much wanted a child because your parent or parents could not adequately care for you. And if you were not adopted, you grew up in an institution called an “orphanage,” not a preferred method of living for a child since Charles Dickens' writings and the story of Oliver often comes to mind. As a kid, I must have become aware of how children came to be in families or other various iterations of children being cared for. It is likely a prevailing world view of how children begin their lives.
I was born in the south in the early '50's to a stay-at-home mother and a father who was farming a family dry land ranch plot outside San Angelo, Texas. My two older brothers, six and three years old at the time when I came into being, may or may not have been aware that their world would change when a new baby was brought into the house. There must have been infant crying and other demands on their mother's time which they would likely have felt as intrusive. But then again, most of the families I knew as a young girl had many siblings at home, so new babies were just a fact of life.
Cousins, childhood friends, kids at school, in fact anyone born to a parent were all compared to their mother or dad in these terms: she/he has his mother's/father's nose, or hair color, or body structure, or temperament. My older brother was said to have my mother's artistic talents and more sensitive temperament. Our male cousins so strongly resembled their father that it was always commented on. And my mother lamented the fact that she did not inherit her mother's musical abilities for playing piano and organ. My father did not inherit his mother's musical abilities either, and could hardly carry a tune. I must say that choral singing was one of my childhood favorite past times, and I spent years singing in choirs.
Both my brothers, as they came into maturity, had idiosyncratic ways of speaking or moving their hands in a certain way when talking that it often brought on comments, especially by mother. As in, “you look just like Charlie when you do that.” They were of similar height, too. But I was always taller than they, and I was blonde whereas they were deeply brunette with skin that easily took the sun. I always burned when outside for more than a few minutes, whereas they sported nice sun tans during the summer, like our dad.
Fifteen years ago, as my mother was dying and when the cancer had reached deep inside her brain, she became less inhibited. Once she looked at me and said “Are you really my daughter?” I assured her I was, patting her hand and giving her consolation. But then just a few weeks before she died, she asked me if there were anything I wanted to ask her about before she was gone, while I still “had time.” I assured her that I thought we had talked everything out, and that I could think of nothing else to ask her. I prompted her and said “Is there anything you want to tell me?” but she shook her head “no.” Pushing her a little further in this direction, she again responded negatively. The moment passed.
It was a year or two after she died that my brother and I had a conversation about this odd, amusing event of mother asking me to ask her a question. It was then that the light bulb flashed on in my subconscious. Was my father of 94 years my biological father?
I don't know. I will never know now. Funny thing, at this point, in the grand scheme of the universe, it does not matter.