Thursday, December 1, 2011

Out of the Thick Night

Spring and Summer 1965, Saint Paul, Minnesota

My life happened by chance out of love and a car wreck. As it was told to me, my birth mom Charlane Poelsterl loved Thomas McElhone jr. and he loved her. They were not married. I was their love child.

He looked like a painting of young Yeats she had seen and she was a pretty, 23 year old St. Paul dreamer and beautiful writer.She got pregnant and shortly after he fell asleep at the wheel and had a car accident. Three people in the other car, I think one person died instantly, one later and the last person lived with the trauma. Thomas broke both arms and both legs and had to spend six months recovering in the hospital.

Charlane visited him everyday and they decided it would be best to get married in the hospital. A few months later, still lying bed-ridden in Ramsey Hospital, he nullified the marriage and relinquished any rights to his unborn child---Me.

Charlane told me that his reasoning at the time was he would not be a good husband or father because of what would be a life-long disability in his right leg. Then he disappeared for a few years before surfacing again in Charlane´s life.

Even though Charlane’s folks said they would help her with the baby, single moms in 1965 America did not have such an easy time I would guess. She also wanted a better life for her child, one with two parents with financial stability and a more certain future.

She wrote to me some years later of the day she gave me up, holding me in front of the window and looking out on the hospital lawn, putting it in a nice poem in a birthday card.

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