The story and the questions

“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
― George MacDonald

DSCN3408
(tired eyes struggling with a sinus infection)

This is part II to a previous post, Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay and what have you done with her? Published March 13, 2013

Have you ever looked into a mirror and wondered who’s that person staring back at you?
No, this is not some psychological question.
Not some deep search for man and his meaning.
Nor is it a trick question.
For here rests a more literal question.

Who do you see staring back at you?

The answer is not simple.
The answer is not the obvious.
The answer is not exactly. . . you.

If not you, if not me, then who you ask?!

The face you see in the mirror is a combination of those who have gone before you. Are those your mother’s eyes? Is that your dads’ chin? Maybe, sadly, your grandfather’s nose? Perhaps your aunt’s earlobes?
It is the bits and pieces of others which make you, you.
Individual, yes.
Conglomerate, yes as well.
You are not just a mere product of a mom and dad but rather a product of generations prior to your parents. You possess a lineage–for good or bad, of a certain family, of a certain people, of a certain clan.

But wonder if you didn’t know whose eyes were looking back at you, whose nose, whose ears, whose facial structure. . .?

Ah the real question—
It is the question of Who.

And so this takes us back to examine an earlier question.
Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay?
“But Julie,” you say, “it doesn’t matter about Sylvia Kay because you are you.” You’ve turned out swell. You have a swell life and and a swell family”
My reply is you’re right—it doesn’t really matter. Life is good, I’m good. It took 54 years of picking up pieces, but you’re right, it’s all good.
But. . .

Who is staring back at me?
Whose eye’s?
Whose lack of lips?
Whose thyroid issue?
Whose horrendous sinus issue?
Whose temper?
Whose intensity?
Who makes me me?

The time: 1959
The Location: Atlanta

The cast of characters:

We know there is a woman. By the time our story takes place she is a nurse. We’ll call her “the Nurse”

There is a man, around the age of 28. A former serviceman, we think, turned State Patrolman, a Lieutenant. We think from Alabama but we are not 100% certain of his state of origin.
We will call him “the Lieutenant.”

There is a baby. We will call her Sylvia Kay or simply, “the Baby.”

There is a Social Worker from the Child Welfare Association, who we will call “the Social Worker.”

Allow us to look briefly back on the life of the Nurse.
At the time of our story she is 23.
Living with one of her older sisters in Atlanta.
She is a nurse, but for which particular hospital is unknown, but probably not Georgia Baptist.
She is a petite woman around 5.5 feet in stature weighing in at a 103 lbs.
Dark brown straight hair, fair complexion and hazel eyes.
Of Scotch / Irish decent.

During high school, the Nurse was involved in music, loving to sing. She was also a part of her high school’s Annual Staff and was even a member of the Future Teacher’s Association.
Funny, we know that the Baby, once in high school was also a part of her school’s Yearbook staff and actually grew up to become a teacher, a lifelong educator. . .and although she can’t sing a lick, loves to sing none the less.

It is believed that the Nurse is from south Georgia but of this we are not certain.
She comes from a close knit family—2 sisters and 2 brothers, a mom who worked in a dye lab and dad who, having had heart trouble, retired his job with the Government. The Nurse was the next to the youngest of the 5 siblings.

There is not nearly as much known about the Lieutenant.
At the time of our story the Lieutenant is 28 with light brown hair, blue eyes and a medium complexion.
He is tall, 6.3 and weighs in at 220 Lbs.
It appears he is friends with the brother-n-law of the Nurse and that he and the Nurse have known one another since high school.

Question: Odd, does that mean they were from the same town, same state?

It also appears that he comes from a family which is considered to be “wealthy” and socially affluent. Perhaps that was a tipping point in the story, yet we do not know that to have ever been an issue.

We do not know how the relationship began between the Nurse and the Lieutenant. However it appears to have been an extensive relationship with marriage having been discussed.

But.
Something happened.
The questions for us, the reader, remains sadly just that—questions upon more questions.
What had happened to this couple? They were not kids but rather grown young adults each having a good education under their belts, each with a secure job. They were enjoying a committed relationship that suddenly, somehow, goes a rye.

The following information is derived from official papers regarding that of the Baby.

In the later half of the year in 1959, the month that the Baby is born, the Nurse calls the office of Georgia’s Child Welfare Agency. The Nurse explains that she is a registered nurse who is to soon deliver a baby out of wedlock at Georgia Baptist Hospital. The Nurse (who should have known better) had not received prenatal care and delivers a baby girl prematurely. There were fictions names.
The Nurse leaves the hospital the very same day, leaving the Baby behind.

But before the Nurse leaves the hospital, the Social Worker finds her. The Nurse explains that she does not want the Social Worker contacting her sister as she is currently living with her sister who is unaware of the Baby or pregnancy.
That she, the Nurse, is planning on returning to work at the hospital where she is employed (not the hospital in which the Baby is born), agreeing to meet with the Social Worker the following day once she gets off from her shift.

Question: Who has a baby, walks out of the hospital, and goes right back to work—in 1959?

The Social Worker learns that the Nurse had signed papers asking that the Child Welfare Association pick up the baby and place the baby in a foster home and that she, the Nurse, intended on paying for all of the medical fees from the birth and now for that of the foster home.

The Nurse shared with the Social Worker that no one in her family had known about the pregnancy. She had told her sister, at the time that she was soon to deliver the Baby, that she would be going on an out of state trip for a bit. No one knew she was pregnant–not family, not co-workers.

Question: How do you hide a pregnancy so well in 1959?

The Nurse and the Social Worker met several times over the course of the next couple of months.

The Social Worker noted that the Nurse guardedly discussed the Lieutenant, only offering basic pertinent information—asking not to discuss the relationship. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse still seemed “very emotionally attached to the Lieutenant.” When discussing the Baby, the Nurse would show “considerable emotion with her eyes filling with tears”—yet appeared very resolute in the decision to relinquish the Baby. The Nurse stated that during the entire 9 months of the pregnancy–she never entertained the idea of keeping the baby.

Question: What is it that we know today about the transference of positive and negative emotions in utero form mother to child?

The Nurse told the Social Worker that the reason she returned immediately to work following the birth of the Baby was due to the fact that working hard helped to keep her mind off of her troubles. She would even volunteer to work overtime and would take the shifts of the other nurses who needed time off.

Over the next several weeks, during each meeting, the Social Worker would share the progression of the Baby and of the Baby’s health. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse’s eyes would still fill with tears. The Nurse always wanted a full report about the Baby’s check-ups and growth progress.

The Nurse told the Social Worker that she actually enjoyed their meetings as it felt good to be able to confide in someone else. The Nurse expanded slightly on the relationship with that of the Lieutenant, noting that he was aware of the pregnancy and wanted to do whatever possible to help and make things right.
But.
Something happened.
Something was said.
The Nurse explained that “she had said something, something too much,” and that a deep rift between them occurred. Later one of the sisters of the Nurse sent a newspaper clipping of the wedding announcement regarding the Lieutenant. The Social Worker noted that the Nurse still seemed emotionally attached yet now also resentful. Nothing else was shared regarding the Lieutenant.

The Baby remained in foster care for the next 3 months before eventually joining an adoptive couple. It would take up to another full year until the adoption was officially complete marking the Baby’s case as closed. The Baby, who had been given the name Sylvia Kay by the Nurse on that fateful day in the hospital, was 1.5 years old before she would no longer officially exist as Sylvia Kay.

Fast forward to 2010. The Baby was now a grown woman. The Baby, now grown, had often wondered about her life prior, on and off, but had made the decision to leave it in the past to which it belonged. Yet there were always nagging questions. Why had there been struggles in school? Why was there often fears of rejection? Why was there the need to seek out the surrogate father in the Priest? Where did the love of cooking come from? Why writing? Why Art? Why the consuming need to communicate? Why the need to be the one in control? What’s the Italian thing all about? Why the tom-boy thing? Why the love of solitude?
Why?

So when she, the now grown Baby, stumbled upon the agency Families First, the current organization in the state which was now the defunct Georgia Child Welfare Association, she discovered that she could obtain the basic “non identifying information” for a nominal fee. The full disclosed case file would be $325. The Baby believed that the little pieces would be best first, telling herself that she could decide later whether she should seek the release of the original case file–or not.

The Baby, now grown, had a tremendous love of history, even minoring in such in college—but the nagging issue was what was the Baby’s, now grown, history? Yet part of the question was whether or not the knowledge of such was pertinent to life today?

Question: Is it important to know one’s past before progressing to the future?

And so here we are with all that remains–those eyes.
The eyes of one who wonders—wondering whose eye are staring back from the mirror.
Those eyes which stare each day from a mirror asking more questions than there are answers.
But does it really matter?
I suppose it only matters if knowing from whence you came is as important as knowing where it is you are going. . .

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Psalm 139 13-18 NIV

8 comments on “The story and the questions

  1. Jenna Dee says:

    What a powerful and intriguing post, you truly have the gift of expression. I was enthralled right to the end. Brilliant. Love Jenna

  2. Nicely woven together story, Cookie. I’m not sure what I’d do. Hugs, Natalie 🙂

    • Oh there’s nothing to do–it’s just a history story. The questions will always be there…but that’s okay because that’s just a part of life. Her “resolution” to her decision seemed most apparent and I honor that. As a mother, as a teacher, as a person who has a deep faith, I of course question her actions—but that was a long time ago, a very different time—therefore I can’t look at her situation through the lenses of today—that wouldn’t be fair. I hurt for her and just hope she may somehow know that I turned out ok–plus I hope she has had a happy life — 🙂

  3. Geralyn says:

    I was very touched and moved by this post. Thank you, Julie

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