Judy began sharing with me some of her recollections of my father, which were sketchy at best. “His name was Van. I don’t remember his full name,” she said, before explaining that they had met when she was very young and had run away together.
“Anyway, we ended up in New Orleans, and I ended up pregnant. One day, I think when you were about three months old, your father took you to Baton Rouge. I remember he took you by train, because we still didn’t own a car. He took you to a church. When he returned without you, I left him,” Judy continued. “Your father got mad at me for leaving and turned me in to the authorities.”
I struggled to comprehend what I was hearing. I had been left at a church?
“So my father took me to Baton Rouge and left me at a church, and then he turned you in to the authorities?” I queried, wanting to be sure about every detail.
Judy hesitated and then nodded her answer. “Yes.”
I sat quietly for a moment, taking it all in. Finally I said, “You know what, Mom? I really don’t think I want to know any more about my father. I have the best family in the world back home in Baton Rouge, and my dad is the best father in the world.”
Judy’s relief was visible. She obviously didn’t want me to find him, either.
I wish that would have been the end of it for me, but over the next few months, the more I thought about my biological father, the more I wanted to meet him, to learn his side of the story, maybe even forgive him and begin a relationship. My mother’s memories were limited. Maybe his memories would be better, and he could give me a reason why he had brought me to Baton Rouge and left me there.
I decided I would try to find him after all. I wanted to learn the truth about him—what kind of man he was, why he didn’t want me. I know now that sometimes things should be left in the past, that knowing isn’t always better. Sometimes the truth is so horrible that it must be uncovered in bits and pieces, snippets here and there, absorbed slowly, as the whole of it at once is simply too shocking to bear.
And sometimes the truth changes everything . . .