Journal Entry #2
June 22, 1995
The moon & stars and all of its mysterious wonders
“Last night I had the hardest time trying to go to sleep. I decided to go outside, and stare at the stars for a while. It was a little chilly outside, so I brought along my blanket. As I stood there on the deck, looking aimlessly into the sky, I noticed all of the glittering stars. They seemed so beautiful, but yet so delicate and untouchable. Then, I gazed toward a new direction. It was the moon, shining down on me. I gazed at it for a while, almost as if I wanted some sort of answer about the man that’s missing in my life. I was thinking about my real father. If only I could see him again. He’s only held me in his arms once, when I was a couple of months old. I try hard to remember what it was like that day, when he looked into my blue eyes, but I can’t. I know the moon and stars don’t have the answers I need, but they give me hope. Hope that I will see him again when the time is right, and he will hold me in his arms once more. The moon connects us both, because no matter where he is, that same moon is shining down on him too. I wonder what he thinks of the moon or if he even thinks of it at all. It watches all of us each night, and it reminds me of a guardian that’s always looking over your shoulder. Wherever you go – the moon will be there to guide you to that certain destination. My destination is to travel the long miles in search of my father. I know that someday I will find him, and we will be reunited. But, until then, I’ll spend my lonely nights with the moon and stars above.”
While writing a non-fiction memoir for a class at CWU, I actually found this old journal entry I had written.. still holding on to a story I was told about my real father when I was nine years old .. a story, and that is just what it was. Because, years later, I found out the truth about my real dad. My dad had actually held me in his arms on many occasions, my dad carried a picture of me at 16 months old, wearing a black velvet dress, white ruffled tights sitting in front of a miniature piano.. with a note on the back of the picture that read: “Daddy, Don’t forget to keep this in your wallet, ok? Love Always (“always” underlined twice) Heather XOXOXXOXOXX.”
Even now, as I look at this tattered picture kept in his wallet for so many years, and faded words.. it reminds me of his love. He never stopped believing I was his daughter .. He never stopped hoping that one day he would see me again .. and all that time, I was looking for a name: Bob Fast… a name that ended up meaning absolutely nothing .. but a name I obsessed over from the time I was nine years old. I remember the night I wrote that journal entry, almost feeling a little guilty, for not being happy with the life I had.
I know that my mom did the best she could – trying to find a father figure for me, I only wish that she would have focused less on a father figure and more on someone she could fall hopelessly in love with .. a best friend perhaps, someone who shared her same hopes & dreams..someone who would be so in love with her, that he would also love her daughter just the same, and treat her like a princess, his own daughter. The smallest act of a legal adoption – it would have meant so much, but that meant work, too much work for that matter .. but I guess in the end, my last name was never meant to be legally changed after all .. that last name “ELLIOTT” that really meant nothing to me, ended up meaning everything in the world to me. I have no regrets in finding you dad – in fact, I thank my lucky stars every night that I’ve found you!
Every year my grandmother puts together what is called the “Barbour Family Breakfast”. What started out with just a few relatives meeting for breakfast has now turned into 40+ relatives coming together for a few hours in the morning – some even bring their spouse & children, and they all catch up with each other, and also share those precious memories .. they hold on to, but also pass down to others .. like me.
I’ve only been to a few of these get togethers, but I’m grateful for each one I attend, as each year I feel like I can put together more of the puzzle, the family tree, that my grandmother has kept in tact all of these years. All of these years, she tells me about the memories she has with her parents, and the stories her parents would tell her when they were young. And then, she tells me about 2nd and 3rd cousins, and their spouses and children, and she updates me on each life, with just a snapshot she holds in her hand..and I suddenly feel like I’ve known them my entire life.
When I walked through Tom & Sues door Saturday morning, I was greeted by so many happy faces, and just knowing that I was somehow related to each one of them put a smile on my face! Sue was an exceptional hostess, making Mexican hot chocolate as we entered into her DREAM kitchen! I stood back for a moment, taking in all of the chitter-chatter, watching as each person exchanged hugs, smiles, laughter, and I thought about my own luck in being part of such a loving, caring and extraordinary group of people.
While I stand in line, trying to decide from the various dishes what to eat, Aunt Jean passes me by, she whispers in my ear, “Sandra said this is a Cinco De Mayo Celebration”. “Yes”, I tell her, “Isn’t this great.!” She looks at me, smiles.. walking away, she stops and says, “Wait, I’m not Mexican.” I giggle softly to myself, and continue down the counter of delicious food .. taking a small spoonful of a few different breakfast casseroles, and some fresh fruit. My husband has already fixed his plate of food and has saved me a seat next to him. I catch up with Amy, whom is one of my many cousins, who I also met at the last breakfast, and have now become “facebook” friends, and now, we are visiting.. as if no time has gone by. I listen to Aunt Jean, who is entertaining our table of 8, telling us about a conversation she had with one of the guys who live in the same Assisted Living Community as her. “Well, I told him I was going to a party this morning..” She looks so innocent as she goes on with the conversation, “He asked if there would be male strippers there.” I’m thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me, who in their right mind.. would ask someone of her age, such a question!” Aunt Jean goes on, “I told him, well gosh, I don’t know.. but I sure hope so!” We all are laughing, trying not choke on our food.. as she goes on with the “next” story, she is full of all sorts, and that is when I start to wonder.. is that where I get it from?? Nate always teases me about “my stories”
I take some time and walk around to the 4 other tables of people, listening to conversations.. rehashing old memories, stories of those who have passed on, grandchildren being born, going to college.. some grandchildren who have their own families.. I meet Brock, whom I remember my grandmother telling me about. He is recently married and come to find out, he and I are both the “oldest” grandchildren in our own respective families. Of course, he & I are related – and we try to figure it out .. but it’s okay, we are related and that’s all that matters.
I venture outside, Sue & Tom’s backyard is (literally) just as beautiful as a park, the yards landscaping is immaculate with tall trees, various colorful flowers, a walkway that leads you down to a cute little bridge with a shallow stream of water that runs through it. I catch up with Holly, we talk about St. Bernards, her vacation in Cali and our upcoming vacation to Europe. Her son Jake leaps over the water, just barely making it with the tips of his heels touching the edge of the stream. He goes again, telling us this time – he’ll jump farther, and he does.. the little girls are busy picking up flower petals from the ground, bringing them down to float in the water.. they are enamored by how quickly the stream carries each petal away .. and they continue to gather more to throw into the water.
It is almost noon, and I’ve lost track of time, wishing for just this moment, time could stand still and I could spend just a little while longer. I know it will be probably at least another year before I’ll see everyone again, and there will be new stories to be told, mixed in with the favorite old stories as well. I walk back up to Sue & Tom’s home, snatch both my Aunt Barb & Aunt Dina for a quick picture together. We walk back inside only to take yet more pictures together with my granny, my aunt patsy .. these are the memories I’ll keep with me.. These are the relatives I will continue to build relationships with.. these are my Family Ties.
I’ve been following a girl named Kellie (Le Zoe Musings) Blogs, and I absolutely love her photos she takes.. she has inspired me to take some pictures of my own – focusing on centerpieces, up close, the tiny details.. and bright colors.. My camera isn’t the greatest, but I had fun playing around with my dining room, and taking pictures from different angles. I was actually getting my house ready for a Murder Mystery Dinner, and this was our Dessert! By the way, if you’ve never hosted or been to a “Murder Mystery” Dinner before, you should – it’s the prefect excuse to get 6-8 of your closest friends together, eat some food and enjoy some great entertainment, all in the comfort of your home!