IDENTITY CRISES…LUCKY'S CHILD
The mid-afternoon sky was blue with soft, billowy clouds. Bronco and I climbed into the back seat. We were tired and dirty from exploring the field next to our grandparent’s house.
Dad backed the ford onto the street, and we waved at the older couple standing by the chain-linked gate. I looked out the back window as we drove away. Grandma made her way to the side of the house to check the chicken pen. Grandpa Williams, with his hands stuffed in the front pockets of his brown pants, resembled an artist’s character. He strolled back to the front door; his beige Stetson hat rode faithfully on top of his head.
We turned the corner onto
Main Street and Dad stopped the car in front of Benjamin’s grocery store.
“I’ll be right back,” Dad said as he got out of the ford.
“What’s Dad getting?” I asked Mom.
“Just some things we need...huh...Gloria, I want to tell you something.” Mom’s voice was low and subdued, as if she didn’t even want the Ford to hear. I glanced over at Bronco; he leaned against the upholstery, his eyelids heavy with soon approaching sleep. I scooted to the edge of the backseat and leaned my arms and chin on the back of Mom’s seat.
“When I was sixteen years old”...her voice began.
Oh good, I thought to myself. I loved Mom’s recollections of her “long ago” days. They were full of brothers and sisters, funny pranks, laughter; taking baths in an old washtub, with two children at a time sharing the same bath water. There were tales of depression days when they traveled cramped in an old car: of Grandpa Underwood searching for work, and painting billboard signs for money to survive; and of Grandma Underwood cooking pancakes over a campfire for her large family.
I focused my attention back on Mom’s voice.
“Uncle Don introduced me to Kenneth Bolding. Actually, his full name was Warren Kenneth Bolding, but his family called him Kenneth. To his friends in
Magdalena he was known as "Lucky". He was new to Magdalena and he took a fancy to me, probably because I didn’t fall all over him like the rest of the girls in town. He was very good looking, with black hair and blue eyes. I dated him for a while. During this time, life at home became unbearable, and I wanted to leave. Lucky suggested that we get married, so we drove to and...And... Got married.” Albuquerque
“I never knew that,” I said in surprise.
“I was waiting until you were older to tell you,” Mom continued, “You were born when I was eighteen...Lucky...Kenneth Bolding is your real father.”
I sat perfectly still, my mind unable to comprehend what Mom was saying. It was foreign to everything I knew about myself.
I finally found my voice, “How can that be?” I asked in unbelief.
“We were divorced when you were three years old. I married Slim and he adopted you. Kenneth didn’t care about you or he would have contested the adoption. He gave up all of his rights to see you again. Lucky...huh...Kenneth was married before me, and he had another daughter by that previous marriage. Her name was Linda Lee. She was four years older than you. In baby pictures, you both looked a lot alike. She...”
Mom’s voice halted abruptly as Dad walked down the sidewalk carrying a grocery sack. He put the sack on the back floorboard and slid behind the steering wheel.
“Sorry it took me so long, we got to talking. Cy says to tell you hello and stop in next time we’re in town,” Dad said light heartedly.
Dad didn’t know that a little part of his world had changed. I stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. Sadness stirred inside me. If he wasn’t my real father, then why did people say we resembled each other? Why did we both have dark hair and hazel eyes?
My mind moved slowly like a large locomotive pulling a heavy load. Thoughts, like boxcars linked together, began to gain momentum as they passed one by one. Alice Birmingham came to mind. Just a few weeks before she had confided in me as we walked home from school. She had been told that Mr. Birmingham was not her real father. Her words echoed in my mind.
“I just don’t see why I should have to call him Father any longer; after all, he’s only my stepfather.”
“I can understand how you feel
,” I answered sympathetically. Alice
Later in the day, I told
’s problem to Dad and Mom. Neither of them made a comment, and at the time I gave it no thought, but now I remembered the expressions on their faces and everything registered! They must have felt they were being confronted with their own secret. Alice
A light dawned in my mind...that’s why Mom felt Grandma and Grandpa Williams didn’t accept us. The light slowly dimmed, and I felt another wave of sadness as I realized I wasn’t special to them. I didn’t belong. Bronco lay near me on the seat. As he turned in his sleep his arm fell on my leg. I looked down at him and emotions choked inside me. My eyes brimmed with tears. This morning I thought I was a whole sister, but now I was only half of one. I believed I was a real daughter, and now I was adopted. Somewhere there were other grandparents to whom I did belong. There was Kenneth, although Mom said he didn’t care about me. And there was Linda Lee.
As we approached
, I realized I had spent the entire ride deep in my thoughts. A multitude of lights twinkled into the dark night. I had always loved the lights of the city and would pretend they were all my jewels, sparkling and shining just for me; but tonight I was too engrossed in the realities of life to imagine and dream. Albuquerque