A few years after the mysterious disappearance of my mother, my sister and I found a kite in our yard that did not belong to us. We took it upon ourselves to travel about the neighborhood, searching for its rightful owner. It was a challenge, a game of sorts, to try to find the child who had lost his kite.
But to me, it felt like more than a game. It wasn’t that I was overly concerned with the kite owner’s loss; it was that I had an unfulfilled need to solve a mystery. It felt urgent to me, like an obsession, or an all consuming task. The mystery had landed in my own backyard, and I had a burning desire to get to the bottom of it.
Maybe if I could solve the tiny mysteries, some day I would find out the big truths.
To my disappointment, we never did find out who the kite belonged to, but I never forgot that day, or the feeling that was evoked in me. I recognized that feeling at seventeen, when I searched my parents’ divorce files at the courthouse, looking for clues. It consumed me again as an adult when I contacted my mother’s lover, the one who was going to help her escape my father.
Fortunately, my unrelenting truth seeking led me to my mother, where I could get her story. It also led me to family members, both hers and my fathers, who could help me to fill in some missing pieces, or in many cases, validate what my childhood memory held.
She was a good mother.
She was afraid of my father.
Even though she had no car, my father refused to drop my sister and me off to see her after he threw her out of our home. He made it as difficult as possible for her to see us.
He told people that she asked him to take custody of us because “he could take care of us better than she could”.
Although this story has been tragic, I believe the ending is a happy one. I am talking with my mother and we are having the big, important conversations. I threw caution to the wind, and took the chance that I might scare her away with discussing the painful past. This led to a breakthrough in our relationship. I think with each conversation we have, she is getting just a tiny bit stronger, and so am I.
It is not easy being a truth seeker when much of the truth is ugly. But here’s the thing: the truth is beautiful too. I have not sought evidence against my father, as much as I have sought evidence for my mother.
And though it has taken me decades, the clues were easy to find. They have been tucked away in my heart and memories my whole life. The years, and the seeking, were just an excavation of what was there. I already knew.
*This photo of my sister and me was given to me by mother. It was taken shortly before my parents’ divorce. We had no idea we were about to be torn from our mother. PARENTAL ALIENATION MUST STOP