Ode to Mom

My mother was a human resources director who had previously taught high school English. Her conversations were full of literary references and tons of quotes used to suit any occasion. It wasn't until years later I would appreciate her quotes. One in particular has held a special meaning for me.

I remember a tearful phone conversation with mom as I sat in my college dorm room. I hated the food and I got a D in math. She listened sympathetically then said, "There must be something good to tell me. Sometimes I wish I was the one still in college." I paused for a moment and said, "Well, I enjoy my literature class." "You are a chip off the old block, " she replied. "I guess so, " I said as I rolled my eyes and hung up the phone.

Despite the rolling of the eyes, that quote did not bother me. I was adopted as an infant and having traits in common with mom made me proud. It was always natural to me that I was her daughter.

I never understood how the term real parent was derived. I was living a real life thanks to the triad of adoption: birth parents, myself, and the family where I was placed. Real was right in front of me as I was growing up..it is what I lived each day: mom's delicious cooking, dad's offbeat sense of humor, and my brother and I watching The Brady Bunch after school.

Two decades later I officially became a "chip off the old block". After experiencing unexplained infertility, my husband and I submitted paperwork to adopt a child. My excitement was mixed with sadness as mom was terminally ill with Sarcoma, a rare cancer. I tried to take comfort that she knew we would adopt. She told me she would close her eyes and imagine me holding a baby boy.

Our adoption was completed a year after she passed away. Just as mom imagined, a handsome boy entered our lives. To honor her memory, I took our son on walks through the trails in the neighborhood where she used to live. Looking up at the sky, I knew mom was watching over us. I wished I could hear her advice and even her quotes as I began my journey into motherhood.

We decided to adopt again when our son turned two. This time we were blessed with a baby girl. Our family is now complete. Just recently, I was  cleaning out the basement as we are desperately in need of more storage space. I found a stack of books that needs to be reorganized or donated. One of mom's books fell off the stack . It was a collection of Robert Frost's poems. I noticed one of the pages was folded over.  Opening the book, I saw the poem Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. The last line resonated so well with me because it summed up my adoption experience: "I have taken the road less traveled and that has made all the difference."

Thank you, mom, for preparing me for this road.




Karen Y. Brown

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