There are certain known facts that we all know about our own families or our extended biological families that others folks do not know. So that you, the reader, may fully enjoy this true story. I am listing here a few things that will, in my opinion, may help give you some of the joy that we experienced upon hearing the rest of the story from a former orphan.
As for myself and my brothers, wife and my cousins, then present, the following truths were and are known by all of us for all our adult lives.
- My sister-in-law for more than thirty years has told her relatives and who knows who else, repeatedly, every time we visited them, (733 miles away from myself) how upset she was and continued to be very remorseful about the following: She would always, repeat always, repeatedly relate the fact that years ago, while walking on the beach one day, with her best girlfriend: That they walked by and did not stop to help a little blond girl who was sitting all alone crying on the beach.
- My cousin, John Archer, had lost his newspaper delivery job, while in high school, because his dog ate three cats.
- The addresses of my three brothers.
- My first vacation without by parents
This is a true story of a girl named Celine who was adopted by a loving couple over thirty-five years ago. The biological mother of Celine still does not want this story told, outside the family, so I am leaving out the names of Celine’s biological parents and some of her cousin’s names until, hopefully someday, permission will be joyfully granted to use their real names. I am writing this for, in my opinion and that of others, it is too powerful a story to be repressed completely and forever; and I am Celine’s biological uncle.
Celine’s biological father worked for me, my brother, for several months prior to my brother receiving an enlightening phone call from his wife, the biological mother of Celine.
Recently it was so enjoyable an experience to finally work with my own brother wiring up this firm, to comply with the national electrical code. We added the proper motor starters, circuit breakers and conduit in what once was originally could have been seen as only a horse barn.
For seven wonderful months we lived, worked, worshipped and ate together. My wife also enjoyed the fellowship at our evening meals. During the day, at least once a day, my brother would look into my eyes and say at lunch or while climbing down a ladder or at Sunday church: “If you only knew”. He would usually say it with tears in his eyes and he would sometimes say it several times a day. So all I could do was to pray that what ever was really bothering him so would be resolved in such a manner that would not to make him anymore stressed or more upset than he already was. He would just turn away on those occasions when I tried to inquire on what was really troubling him so much.
One late blessed very cloudy fall afternoon as the setting sun was starting to finally shine under the slow moving clouds, in the western sky we received a phone call. Prior to that phone call the sunlight was now shinning right thru the window onto the circuit breaker panel board where he was needing some light. We needed some light having turned off the power to what was once considered a mobile office, now connected by two room additions. We were re-wiring the office so to be able to use the air-conditioning system, the following summer, which had been idle for five years due to the lack of delivered amperage to the office. He and I were praising aloud the many blessings he and I had during these seven months working together. He had also built, twenty years earlier, one of my machines and taught me how to do something in my production that none of my competitors has ever done even to this day, I do believe. We both were amazed that at the moment he needed light on the breaker it was there right on that exact spot where he was working; then the phone rang.
The phone call was my brother’s wife, from out of state, and very shortly thereafter I was asked to leave “my” office, while he was on the phone. After the phone call my brother told me he was going home immediately. I inquired about his tools. He had rented a u-haul trailer to bring several hundred pounds of tools and tool cabinets with him when he has arrived earlier that spring. He told me that he would be back at a later date. He immediately left without supper and drove fourteen hours all thru the night to his home.
On one occasion one of our fellow employees had asked my brother why he locked up all his tools when he went to lunch with me on the days we did not bring them along with us to lunch. My brothers reply, with a smile, was: ”So I will not go to jail.” This employee who was not gifted with a lot of logic then immediately asked: “Why would you go to jail?” My dear brother’s only reply, always with a smile, was: “For murder.”
A WEEK LATER
My brother and his wife drove into one of our other brother’s driveway at the very same time Celine and her boyfriend drove into the same driveway. Celine had traveled with her boyfriend and was present at this encounter. As the four of them got out of their respective cars Celine and her biological mother was wearing the same exact outfits or dress. As far as anyone knew; this was the first time, since birth, that any of them had ever seen each other. It was also the first time they believed that Celine had ever seen any of her uncles. At that moment she did not know that she had, living, two other sisters and a brother, ten cousins and at that moment 14 other nieces and nephews and three uncles plus three living grandparents. At date of this writing, November 2003, one of her grandparents still does not know of her existence, six years after this first encounter. Why not will have to be left untold. This rendezvous was later called a miracle meeting for they all got along so well.
The five of them, to include my brother who lived there, spent several wonderful days together during that first reunion.
Thirty-one years, before this re-union the grandfather or father of the mother, took his this newborn baby, his only grandchild at that time, Celine from the hospital. He then gave Celine to his best friend who, years earlier, had been his roommate at Georgetown University. They both then agreed to have the baby adopted by a Catholic couple who wanted a child. This did occur.
After the first meeting of their eldest daughter, Celine, my brother and sister-in-law, upon retuning to their home state, stopped at my mother’s home. They wanted to show my Mom pictures of her eldest grandchild of which she had no prior knowledge of until that moment. Upon seeing these beautiful pictures in living color of laughing joyful people hugging each other: My mother’s first words were, which she later regretted: “Do you want to go to confession?”
FOUR MONTHS LATER
Celine, now a new bride, and her husband and many of my relatives were invited to a wedding of one of my nieces. The bride was one of Celine’s two new found sisters. There were twelve of us at our banquet table that night. We were having the time of our lives telling Celine about the many many deeds of her grandparents. (which she will never know) About some of the life experiences of many of her uncles and aunts; it was a memorable and blessed evening. We told her about her Democratic great-grandfather William Clifford Archer wrote the first workman’s compensation laws in Ohio and then how the Governor Dewey of New York asked him to do the same in New York. How Dr. John’s dad, my godfather, Hugh Archer was celebrating his homecoming from the U.S. Army on 7 December 1941. He then went upstairs put his uniform back on and left. We told her about our great uncle Arthur … co-founder of the Reader’s Digest.
We were all sitting and enjoying our banquet and the fellowship with many of our cousins and a few of their children. Suddenly we all noticed that Celine had started to cry uncontrollability. Celine was sitting right next to myself. We all were passing her napkins, for her tears. We asked her why she was crying? She said that: “She has never danced with her real Dad.” I told her: “We have the technology, you will dance with your Dad tonight.” Then thru her tears and her continued sobbing she said clearly: “I have not cried this much since I asked the Lord, many long years ago, to show me who my real mother was; this was when I was a little girl crying on the beach at Ocean Beach, Maryland.” The other eleven of us all immediately broke into tears and we were shaking and crying uncontrollably ourselves. Celine now had no idea why we too were also crying together and all of us at the same time. She was even more upset thinking she had said something to upset us. Several of us got up and hugged her and we too could not stop crying and hugging her and we could not immediately tell her why, we too were so emotional that we had also lost control our own emotions at that moment. Several minutes had must have elapsed while we were all too completely overwhelmed and totally spent with our joy and emotion and laughter. Finally my cousin Mary McIlwee was able to tell her why we too were so overtaken with emotion for we all knew about her mother and how many times we had heard her mother tell the story of the crying young blond girl on the beach. We all now collectively knew that Celine’s prayer had actually been answered at almost the that very moment, or maybe at the very moment she had asked it: To see her real mother. What we all did not know , until fifteen years later, that the Lord had answered her prayer at the very moment it had been requested. This fact still makes me come to tears. We all were shaking with emotion and her brother and the bride and her other sister were sitting at the head table and were not present at the moment we witnessed the explosion of our total joy at that table that night. Celine then told us how she used to never miss the TV program “Unsolved Mysteries” hoping that her “real” parents were still looking for her. Upon the passing of her Mom, who raised her, she had found some papers that led her to the law firm that had arranged for her adoption. She was then able to locate a woman who she later found out was her own aunt who then notified her sister; the mother of Celine. We were all listening to every word and were almost to tears again listening about her longing, during her whole life, to bringing her life long desire to and end of wondering about her “real mom” was.
LATER AT THAT SAME TABLE
Celine’s cousin Dr. John Archer then asked aloud where Celine grew up? Celine replied: “Bethesda, Maryland.” Dr. John and his sister Mary then told her that they too had lived and grew up in Bethesda. Mary Archer Mcllwee then asked her where did you go to school? Gonzaga High School was her reply. “We went to Gongaza also.” Dr. John immediately asked what was your home address. She told her old childhood address and Dr. John said. “You were on my paper route! I got kicked off because BECAUSE MY DOG ” Celine interrupted him and stood up said at the same time Dr. John was still talking and they both said finished the same sentence at the same time together with “ATE THREE CATS” Celine then still standing up and shouted, and pointed to Dr. John, above the laughter of twelve witnesses- “I took over your paper route!” We were all still laughing and crying at the same time. Many people sitting at other tables were now looking at our table.
Before the wedding reception the mother of the bride, and my brother, had told us that they did not want to take away from the bride’s wedding day with the news of the location and celebration of Celine’s presence. So unfortunately we had to keep our secret to ourselves not even to the woman (two tables away-my senior prom date) who was with Celine’s mother on the beach many years earlier. So we had to keep our miracles to ourselves that night unfortunately. We continued to listen, for hours, to Mary, Celine and Dr. John swap the names of people and their families they both knew and of their brothers and sisters was such a continuous joy.
A while later we were exchanging addresses, phone numbers, and also room numbers at the Holiday Inn. Celine and her husband told us that they were not saying the night for they were going to visit Celine’s aunt in Bankville (real name withheld). My third brother who lived in that town told Celine there was a better route to take to get to Bankville via the Parkway and he also was also going home that night and that they could follow them. My brother then asked where in Bankville are you going? Celine opened up her purse and finally read the address aloud: “32 … Gardens.” “No way! He shouted that is my address.” (They live in a condo and shares his address with one other family) Celine’s aunt is his neighbor. We now could hardly cope with our total joy and emotional drain and continued excitement, which was produced by our Lord at that table that night. My third brother and his wife, who was present at our table that night had met before with out them even ever knowing they were his niece and her uncle. We had to get more napkins.
While reading this draft to my 88 year old Mom, on the phone today 14 November 2003, she did not know about the cats that caused John Archer to loose his paper route job. My Mom did remember how disruptive our table was that night. Nor did she know about the “Bankville” address. She was glad I have written it down, during her lifetime. Copies, of this, sent to Celine’s sisters and brother.
I now know why my brother’s father-in-law would shoot out my Dad’s plastic window in the back of his 1960 Buick convertible several times before he did marry his daughter. He passed on to his eternal reward prior to Celine locating her caring “real” parents. My brother and his only wife have now been married for 38 years and have nine grandchildren so far. Celine now has eight new cousins, twenty-three nieces and nephews, and three aunts in her loving extended family. At the time of this wedding she had three living grandparents. My name withheld to keep family unity intact I pray.
18 DECEMBER 2OO3
While talking to my brother today he related that in 1960, while we were in high school, my brother and I and my life long friend Saul Katz, visited a friend of my brother while the three of us were on vacation in Maryland. We were also visiting my Godfather and his children are my in Bethesda. My Brother’s school friend had moved out of his hometown due to his father’s transfer of a job. We did spend the night at the Woljos in Bethesda. We now find out that that family was Celine’s next door neighbor during all of her childhood life. My brother just found out this while talking to Celine on the phone last week. The catalyst, to the realization was about the dogs that had lived next to Celine while she was a child.
For forty years I always wondered why I only remembered, from that visit that day, a woman showing off an infant in a baby carriage on the sidewalk in front out our car when or while we were trying to leave to drive to the skyline drive in Virginia. That baby was Celine at age three months.
I do wish I could sign my name here; but I rather honor my brother’s request that his real name or my name not be used at this time MMV.