“Heartbreaking sobs made my chest pound. Tears of lonesomeness and isolation streamed down my cheeks. I was miserable. My mind was numb knowing that I was the cause of my birth father’s heart attack. If he died, or ended up with permanent heart or brain damage, I could never forgive myself. My first reaction was to call the hospital to express my concerns, and give him my sympathy, but telephone calls were against doctor’s orders.” ⎯Judith Land
It was ironic that after trying so hard, for so many long years, I had finally found my roots and my true self-identity, but during the process of discovery I had been careless, overly ambitious and aggressive. I was only thinking about myself when I contacted my birth parents. I had neglectfully failed to surmise the effects my actions would have on others. When I initially discovered the identity of my birth mother Rebecca she was not interested in meeting me. She had rejected my passionate pleas for clemency, verbally cuffed me on the side of the head like a big mother bear, and adamantly pleaded with me to keep her secret private from her friends and family. Was her husband my birth father? I needed to find out. It took a tremendous amount of self-control, willpower and inner courage to conquer my shyness. My shaking hands made it physically difficult to pick up the telephone. I precisely dialed the athletic club; one painstaking number at a time, where I was told my birth father exercised three days a week. I could feel beads of perspiration on my forehead.
“Hello Bruno. This is your daughter Judy. How do you feel about meeting me?” He chuckled and responded graciously, “Well, you know how Italians are. Life is about loving and forgiving. I’m Italian. I would love to meet you. You are family.” His openness, congenial invitation, and pleasant deportment astonished me. It was a complete reversal in polarization from what I had expected and previously experienced with my birth mother Rebecca. Bruno spoke tenderly from the heart. I loved the way he said my name because it made me feel important. He made it sound like we were already family. He seemed like such a fine man. “Yes. I am your birth father. I can tell from the picture you sent your mother that we look alike. Listen, Judy, I’m flying to Las Vegas next week. I could stop and meet you in Colorado on my way through. I will call you in three days to let you know my plans,” he explained warmly.
My senses were heightened to such a high degree that I could hardly maintain my sanity. Triumph at last! I started planning immediately. To make a good first impression, I bought two elegant dresses, an expensive jacket, and an extravagant pair of Italian shoes. I highlighted my hair, polished my fingernails, cleaned my teeth, basked in the sun to bring color to my cheeks, and vowed to shed five pounds in five days.
The next two weeks passed slowly. Bruno never called. Doubt and pessimism dominated my thoughts. Imagining the worst—the air in my psychological balloon quietly leaked out. Rebecca must have become dreadfully angry, put her foot down, and given Bruno an ultimatum not to contact me. Otherwise, he would have called to say he wasn’t coming. I was mentally drained, restless, and psychologically unstable. The emotional high I had been feeling was replaced by a lethargic period of inactivity and lack of enthusiasm. The color in my cheeks washed out and my energy level declined.
Bruno had mentioned the name of his sister Annie Fazio as the mother of a nephew in Denver. She was the only person in the telephone book by that name. I telephoned her directly. Annie spoke deliberately in a measured cadence. Her words lingered in the air like the notes of a percussion instrument in a soundproof room. “Bruno had a severe heart attack right after you called. He is in grave condition.” Realizing his heart attack was my fault; I placed my hands over my eyes and bawled. My chest heaved. Killing my own birth father without ever having the opportunity to meet him in person was unforgivable. I would be forever condemned as an outcast and troublemaker by his family. My birth mother Rebecca would never speak to me again. Feeling alone and dreadfully sorry for myself, I sunk to the lowest emotional point in my life.
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