When I discovered the name of my
birthmother & where she was from, I made several unanswered calls to the only relative of her I could find; her mother, Mary Dillard. Since I lived several hours away, calling &
leaving a message would be the end of the line for me unless she answered or returned my calls, which she did not. Without a response, I couldn't even be sure I'd found the right person, so I decided to take a trip to the town she lived in, Laurel, Ms. At least then I could knock on a door if I had to.
When I arrived in Laurel, I got a
motel room, took a shower to get
my head straight, then sat on the
bed & made another call to Mary
Dillard. Again, there was no answer, so I hung up. A few min later I tried again, but still no answer. I debated leaving a message, but decided not to for fear of spooking her. If the caller id showed a local number corresponding to a message from me, it might frighten her enough to call the police, or give her an excuse to to avoid me forever. So I bought a street map & drove to the address listed for Mary Dillard in the phone book. A car was parked in the driveway, the lights were on, & I even saw movement through a crack in the curtains. I remember noticing that my heart was pumping so hard, I could see my shirt moving up & down. I wasnt quite ready to walk up & ring the doorbell, so I drove to the nearest pay phone & called her number again, but still no answer. My mind was racing & even though I was sure she was avoiding me, I drove back to her house just in case she left in the few min it took me to drive to the pay phone. This time two cars were in the driveway. An older man was on the porch with an older lady who was standing in the doorway. This was the first time
I saw her. My biological grandmother. I didnt stop right away. For one thing, I couldn't
catch my breath right away, so I just kept circling the block. I wondered if she had put the pieces together and realized that I was in town. I concluded that this was probably the case, and since another person was there, she would be obligated to answer the doorbell. I thought she probably invited the man over for security and since I had no intention of frightening anyone, I parked on the street so no one felt blocked in or cornered, I walked onto the porch, took a deep breath, and rang the door bell.
When she opened the door I said,"Hi, my name is Bart. I think we may be related. Do you have a daughter named Rebecca, who was a drum major in high school?" Her response was,"Why don't yo u come in & sit down. Would yo u like some iced tea?" she then introduced the man as a "dear friend" who checks in on her from time to time since her husband passed away many years ago. All of this happened before she even acknowledged a word I had said. Her man friend stayed the whole time I was there even though he kept out of sight, in the kitchen. This was what convinced me that he was there for her security & that she put the pieces together, figuring out that I was in Laurel, even before I rang the doorbell. Eventually, she sat down to talk to me. When she did, she was very cordial. I asked questions & she answered each one. I learned that my biological father's name was Larry Brownlee, I looked very much like him, & that he was
killed by a drunk driver in '72 only weeks after returning from Vietnam. She told me that he & my biological mother dated but weren't serious, so when she became pregnant, she wanted to move away, have the baby, give it away, then come back home so no one would be the wiser. What is even funnier than that, is that mary (biological grandmother) STILL thought no one knew what had happened! oh but they did. Everyone I later spoke to, knew. They just never challenged the family's story & allowed them to fabricate whatever they needed to. It was quite nice of the townsfolk, really. I also learned Becky was married now, with 3 boys. She
lived in the nearby town of Richton, Ms. By the time I left, Mary had given me her word that she would speak to Becky & urge her to
meet me the following day. She said she would offer her house as a place for our meeting. I remember Mary saying that Becky owed me at least that much, so i returned to my motel room very optimistic. I sat there waiting & expecting a call. When the phone finally rang, I answered it before the first ring ended. It was Becky. The first question she asked was if I minded her husband listening in on the conversation. I thought it was a very odd request, but I would have agreed to anything, so I said it was ok. The truth was that he was already on the line because as soon as I agreed, he immediately asked me if I was a christian, in a sour, angry tone."If you are not a christian, we're not going to have anything to do with you!", he said.
It was very difficult for me to endure this guy & his attitude, but I had still not seen my biological mother even once, so I tried to make the guy feel as powerful as I could by acting as meek & gracious as I could, like his fear of me & my intentions was unfounded. I was a just a weak, worthless pauper. dim witted, out classed, & thankful for any crumbs he was kind enough to drop on the floor for me to pick up & eat. "Yes sir, I am a christian. Methodist. I have been a christian & a Methodist my whole life. Are you a christian too, sir?" "yes", he says. still sour, but not as aggressive as before. " I'm glad", I say. "I feel better knowing I'm speaking to fellow christians". I was really winging it. I feared I laid it on a little thick, but he didn't seem to notice. Eventually, the negotiations ended & without another word spoken from Becky, he ALLOWED a meeting to be scheduled for the following day, in his presence, for a very short period of time, with him holding the right to terminate the meeting at any time, for any reason, & only if I agreed to never contact her again. Man, was he one fragile character! But I would have agreed to just about anything. & I
After hanging up, I realized I had nearly 24 hrs to wait before the meeting, so I sat on the bed & wrote
out a bunch of questions I wanted to ask. When I was done, they filled 3 pages. I wrote & re wrote my questions, changing the order back & forth. I changed the wording several times hoping to make them as polite & non- threatening as possible. When it was finally time to go, I felt that I was as prepared as I could be. I arrived at Mary's house before them, & chose the darkest corner of the room to sit in. When Mr. "I dont talk to non- christians" arrived with his wife in tow, the front door opened into my corner, blocking his view of me, so I stood up & walked toward him with my hand out, to shake his hand, but I was snubbed. As soon as he saw me, he turned & walked to the opposite side of the room. Before he sat down, he motioned for Becky to come in & sit beside him, but I intercepted her, giving her the stupid flowers I bought, & a hug. Both were accepted, but she never made eye contact or participated in the hug. I assumed this was because he was there & watching. From that point on, he never stopped staring at me, while she couldn't bring herself to look at me even once. It was very awkward & I immediately regretted the flowers & the hug. There was complete silence, so I unfolded my questions & quickly looked through them for a softball to throw her, abandoning the order of the questions that I settled on.
That's when Mr Righteous said, "Are all those sheets of paper your questions? We dont have time for all that. You said you just had a FEW questions! ". Without acknowledging his remarks, I asked Becky if she dated my biological dad back then, & if he knew about me. I had the feeling that my time was short, so instead of a softball, I chose to play hardball! & indeed, my time was short. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, Mr Righteous jumped up, pointing his finger at me, & screamed "Get the hell out of here! She doesnt have to answer questions like that!" He was actually coming toward me, pointing & screaming. Both Becky & Mary just sat there without making a sound. I held my hands up & said, "Ok ok", as I backed out the house. He then said something about not wanting to see my face ever again, & under my breath I said, "Oh, but you will".
When I discovered the name of my