Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Three Mothers, Part I

It must be the season but I’ve had unusually frequent thoughts of my mother lately. My adopted mother that is.

Sparky the Crumb Cruncher (1959)

To clarify things since it can be all so confusing for the uninitiated, I have had three mothers:

My birth-mother, who gave me life.

Marian Estelle "Mary" McMahan (1959)
FindAGrave Memorial

My adopted mother, who shaped my life.

Helen Mae Koethe (1944) before her marriage to Dad in 1948
FindAGrave Memorial

And my step mother, who saved my life.

Mrs. Myra Cook Morgan Ricketts
and my father at their wedding ceremony June 1968
FindAGrave Memorial

My birth-mother, Mary, was 17 years old and unmarried. In 1956, this was a tragedy! She dropped out of high school, ran away from home to south Florida to stay with family friends and had me secretly. Two days later, I was property of my new adopted family and she was free to go on her merry way to do more as she pleased.

Helen, my adopted mother, apparently wanted a child. My father did not want something that wasn’t blood-kin. He never said these words directly, but his actions were frequent reminders of this little fact until the day he died. But Helen had a mother’s instinct. My father didn’t permit me to discuss my mother or have photos of her after her death, so, I have few memories of her. But this is one that still lives in my mind:

I grew up in Titusville, Florida, not far from Playalinda Beach (aka Cape Canaveral). We practically lived at Playalinda since it was so close. One day, while at the beach, my cousin Ricky and I were playing in the surf. I think I was about 5 or 6 years old and Ricky was only about a year older. He began pointing at the waves exclaiming, “Look at all the balloons on the water!” So, I ran out there wanting to play with the “balloons” and horrors of horrors, they were Portuguese Man ‘O War! In short order I was covered with poisonous, stinging, grasping tentacles! It’s a bit of a blur, but I do remember Mom suddenly rushing over to me, and with no regard for her own safety, rapidly pulling the tentacles from my young flesh. She became horribly stung right along with me. Thankfully Aunt Helen (Mom’s sister-in-law) was also along and she drove us to the Hospital which was at least 20 miles away. I had to get some rather painful shots and was covered in some kind of salve for days. It was pretty terrible. My father was typically disgusted that I had “caused trouble”, etc. But I just remember how my mother rushed to the rescue of her baby, like a mama bear protecting her cub.

My mother was taken from me suddenly one summer day in 1966. She had had a bad heart acquired at a young age from a bout with Scarlet Fever (thus the fact she could not conceive). The brain hemorrhage was sudden which caused her already weak heart to seize. She wasn’t overweight and she didn’t smoke. It was a total surprise to everyone. Something that today, if caught early, probably would never have happened. She was only 40 years old. I’m told that everybody liked Mom. She was sweet, gentle, physically delicate and ever so kindhearted. And also, thank God, a Christian. I was only 10 years old, but I still remember the phone call my father received from Jess Parrish Hospital that day. I can remember the look of utter anguish on his face and the way he cried. It’s the only time I can remember him crying or acting human. Then I can remember him lashing out in anger.

I didn’t realize that my life would never be the same.

It was a couple days later at the funeral, just moments after they put my mother’s body in the ground, I was crying and asking “Where’s Mom? Why are they putting her in the ground?”. I was so confused and frightened. My father screamed at me inches from my face to “Shut up! You’re only adopted! Why do you care?!” My life stopped at that moment. It’s like he had reached into my chest and stopped my heart from beating. I felt numb and dead inside. Yep. He tore up his parent card, and my heart, that hot day in August. Amazingly, though, I do not dwell on this much or the painful years that followed. It’s all in the past and I know now that he was doolally.

Despite his abuse and neglect I still have a few treasured memories of a sweet, loving mother that shaped my life that carry me though hard times even today.

Always a silent hurt,
many a silent tear,
but always a beautiful memory
of one we loved so dear.

God gave us strength to bear it,
and courage to take the blow,
but what it meant to lose you

... no one will ever know
Author Unknown

♥ ∞


  1. What a stirring story from the heart. I thought about the movie title Places in the Heart when I read this. It's these personal encounters in life that do indeed shape our character. You fought through your valley with God watching over and emerged a much stonger person despite the negative forces and heartbreaking loss. My sister you are to be commended for fighting the good fight and to God be the glory.

  2. {{SPARKY}}Sending hugs and lots of love.♥

  3. Thank you all for your kind words and hugs. I just needed to talk about it for a bit. I'm missing my mother this week. I'll go back to being *funny* again after my next post. Thanks for listening! God bless!! I need you all so very much.

  4. Oh my gosh, what hurt you must have felt! We just never know another person's secret heart. I want to hear the rest of your story.

  5. I, too, was adopted and although my adopted parents didn't say ugly things like that, their relatives did at times. I am so sorry you had to experience those hateful words. I also want to hear more of your story. I think it's good to get those things out. You're a sweet person and I wish I was there to give you a big hug.

  6. oh, Sparky! I am an adoptive mother as a matter of fact...we raised seven that were not ours. I could never imagine that big ole bear of a husband of mine even thinking something like that...but his heart belongs to God and not me. Resentment and grief are a dreadful mixture. The one thing to never forget as you as you travel down memory lane is... our heavenly Father loves you more than any earthly father ever could or will...I say to you today...Who's your daddy? Jehovah that's who! God bless you, dear one...God bless.

  7. I know that 99.9% of men (or women) in this country would never even dream of hurting a child. You know who taught me that? Reading the Bible and God showing how much HE loved me every day. He is indeed "My Daddy". :o) Plus, my husband has the patience of Job and has shown love when anyone else would have walked away. He is a good man.
    Thanks y'all for listening to me and for your kinds words. I wasn't trying to illicit sympathy. Just wanted to talk about it today. Thanks to my heavenly Father, and caring friends (I'm looking at you) I feel healed!!! I am so blessed, better than I deserve.
    ((Hugs)) back at ya. ♥ ∞

  8. Thank you for sharing this, Sparky. I know as a child my biggest fear was losing my mother. I had a friend in 4th grade who got called to the office out of class - turned out her mother had died. I've never forgotten the pain in her when she came back to school. But to have a father who couldn't or wouldn't help you through it... I'm glad you had your Heavenly Father.

  9. Catching up on your posts today. Oh sweetie... words aren't enough to express.

  10. Sparky - I've been behind in reading my favorite posts and caught up on yours today. What an amazing story about your three mothers! You've had a long hard path but here you are at the other end just being Sparky which rhymes with wonderful. God bless you, Sparky!

  11. Gosh Rosezilla, Janeen and Cynthia ... I am so forever more touched by your kind words. God has blessed me ... with y'all as Blog Friends!! I can't tell you how much I've come to need people I've never even met but wish I lived next door to.
    Thanks so much. :o))))) (miles of smiles)
    Sparky ♥ ∞


⭐ A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. ~ Walter Winchell