Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Name tags

I'm standing in the buffet line at my church. The woman in front of me turns to me and I focus my attention on her eyes as they glance downward to the tag hanging around my neck, the one on which my first and last name are printed in bold sans serif font.

Do you know Betty Groth?

I'm not sure why but I reach for my name tag, and finger its slick cover before I answer, Yes, yes I do. And then, I'm her daughter.

She looks at me as if I'm a answer. And I let her. She tells me how sorry she is ...about your loss.

I ask her, How did you know my Mother?

She launches through the conversational gate I've presented her.

We met in Junior League.

I smile. This is how many conversations about my mother begin. Your Mother, she was leaving her role at DePelchin Faith Home, that's what it was called back then. Anyway she was leaving because the baby she was adopting was ready to be adopted. I was taking over her group of girls. It was a grey and rainy day, my first time before a class of young pregnant girls, I was so nervous...

I drifted a bit when I realized that the baby she spoke of was me. She spun on, about my mother's ease and command with the guidance she'd been charged with, my mother's approach to those girls who were there to birth their child and somehow move forward in their lives without that child. My mother and this woman, through the Junior League partnership with the adoption agency,they were there to teach skills, job skills, hostess skills, life skills, to the young women whose churches or parents had guided them through difficult decisions in a safe haven. She told me how much she admired my mother and how she feared her new role in filling my mother's shoes.

Tonight I met the woman who took over my mother's volunteer work when my mother needed to take maternity leave because I had been born, because my parents were getting me. Me! For the who knows how many times but it's upwards of a thousand, my heart exploded in bright lights of joy and pride that someone let me go for my sake and someone else chose me, also for my sake.

We talked on as we filled our plates. Plate in hand, I hugged her then walked to my table, head spinning and heart flying. I sat down in a chair two across from the next person. I watched the man across the table from me read my name tag, watched his smile spread to a beam from ear to ear as he said, Alison Groth, we graduated high school together.

I haven't seen him in over 20 years.

No, Lee, I smiled, our mothers were college roommates at Vassar. You and I, we rode horses together.

Have you ever had one of those nights?

Oh Mom. You are here with me. And I am so happy to have you.


ghost said...

its been a while, but yes.

i love your words, my friend.

CreekHiker said...

Alison, Tears are falling as I read this. What a sweet and fitting tribute to your mother.

Velvet Sacks said...

The woman you met gave you a wonderful gift in her story about your mother. Meeting her might have been a tiny miracle, but it was a miracle nonetheless.

Sounds like a day you'll remember always.