The Girl Who Got “Got” – Nature vs. Nurture

Leopardprint mama c & tanner, richard asleep 006

Nature. Hands down. Nature. Winner of the mirror ball, the mother lode, the lottery of “I Just Want To Find Someone I Look Like.”

When I was a little girl, I called myself Mrs. Hogan. I’d put on a church hat, sit at a grey metal typewriter table and pretend I was a writer. I am told my Mrs. Hogan had a certain air about her – the way she moved, talked. She was upper crust – society’s child.

I was adopted when I was three months old. Up to that point, the nuns at the Catholic Children’s Home in Seattle “looked after me.” I want to believe there was a young, pretty nun there like Sally Fields from The Flying Nun TV show. This young nun would have held me close to inhale that baby smell, sang to me, rocked me to sleep, and kissed the top of my head.

That was not the case. When my parents “got” me in October 1959, I came with a note saying I was fussy and wanting to be held. Not much has changed. The note also said I was constipated and needed Karo Syrup in my bottle at least three times a day.

When you’re a kid, the hardest part of being adopted is not having anyone around you resemble. Family reunions and other get-togethers are painful reminders that you’re “different.”

When I was 33 years old, I made one phone call and found Mama Caroline, Sweet Caroline. Originally from Memphis, she lived 60 miles away in Seattle. During our first phone conversation, I asked if she had thick hair, bad teeth, and liked to swim? I put away my copy of “Are You My Mother.” I’d found mine.

I said goodbye to Mama C last week. I loved her so. She was 93. We looked just alike, loved opera, and had an appreciation for a nice looking man. Our favorite colors were purple and orange; our favorite flower – a pink rose. Mama loved to dress up. She had style. Flair. She favored scarves and jewelry as do I. I do not, however, share her wild attraction to leopard print clothing.

Today, I’m sporting the orange-tinted lipstick of this very private woman from Memphis who loved baseball and always treated me as if I were an angel that had fallen to earth. The perfect daughter – which I was not.

During that first conversation, Mama Caroline did mention my great grandmother’s name: Johanna Hogan. This Mrs. Hogan lived in Chicago’s Hyde Park area, and she always wore a hat.

I am all “Memphis” although I’ve never been. I lay down at night with the blues and have been told there’s a “southern way” about my manners. Mostly, like Caroline, I’m the goofy girl on the playground pranking the boys. There’s still time to be the rebel in animal print, attending operas, wearing a fresh coat of lipstick listening to La Traviata, eyes closed, conducting the orchestra with my index finger.

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6 thoughts on “The Girl Who Got “Got” – Nature vs. Nurture

  1. Patty, i love this posting. It is very touching. Also, good to hear a happy ending to a search for Mother. I would like to read this at Memoirs. There are people in there group who adopted and one or two were adoptees. Yeah I can see you w/ your church hat and typing away Mrs. Hogan. 🙂 Cheers again! Brava, brava! Delores

    • Thank you, Sharon. I know you did. I just wanted to point out that I always wished there was someone I looked like. That’s all.
      It is something I really missed out on. Thanks for reading the post. Best, Patty

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