My birth mother, Lillian, was a married mother of four when she had me

Pictures of My Mother

Everything I knew about my birth mother’s life was based on what I had learned in a two-week whirlwind of document discoveries and long distance conversations with newly found relatives.

I was hungry to know what the woman, who died 30 years ago this month, looked like. For days I waited anxiously for the mail carrier to show up with a packet of vintage photographs.

“Your mother’s pictures are here,” my husband, Tom, announced after picking up the mail one day last week. I ran upstairs from my basement office.

Tom handed me a thick envelope. I started to cry.

Nobody’s life story is complete without photos. Inside the envelope, the faded pictures, dating back to the 1970s, show a woman with black hair and dark eyes. She’s rather slender for someone who had given birth to five children. Lillian alternately looks happy, haggard, tired and bored in photos showing her with her husband, surrounded by his family, with her sons and daughter.

The nicest photo, probably taken by a professional photographer, shows my mother looking attractive and chic in a sleeveless black and white dress, a curl of black hair on her pale forehead, standing near her husband who’s wearing a suit jacket and tie. Looks like they were at a party. Maybe their wedding day?

My mother, Lillian, with husband, Howard

Another one of my favorites shows my mother standing alone in front of a lake, holding three large fish in both hands. She looks happy.

Lil Fishin' cropped

Back of Lil Fishing

Lillian did a lot of living in her 48 years. She even became a grandmother, which is mind-boggling to me. Her granddaughter told me about the happy times she had with my mother, who took her fishing. Lillian skinned and filleted their catch of the day.

The photos flesh out Lillian’s story for me. It wasn’t all tragic, which is the impression I came away with from early conversations with her family members. Looking at the photos, I can see she had some ordinary, even fun moments. I am relieved.

Wife, mother, awesome cook. Hard-working waitress, drinker, angler.  My mother wore a lot of hats. I will always treasure the photos that bring her to life in my imagination.

8 thoughts on “Pictures of My Mother

  1. It must be a strange feeling to see shades of your own features in these photos. You’re very brave to take on this search and to share it. An amazing story!

  2. Yes, it’s helpful to know the truth. I’m glad you understand where I’m coming from, Anne, Many people who are not adopted don’t understand why adoptees want to know about their birth parents.

  3. Hi Lynne,

    Your story brought back the vivid memory of seeing my BMom’s picture for the first time. Even though I had always fit into my adoptive family and resembled them in a way, it was beyond exhilarating to see a photo of a biological relative — especially the one who gave me life. You are so right that many non-adoptees don’t get it. I try to explain it’s for the same reason many people are fascinated by history. We humans have a deep inborn desire to know where we came from, even more so when that understanding has been missing so completely from our life stories.

    I wish you good luck in your search for more information and connections. Thanks for sharing your story.


  4. Thanks for reading my blog, Susan. It’s true we all want and need to know where we came from. I may never find out who my father was but I feel pretty good about the bits and pieces I’ve gathered so far about my mother and her family. I hope other adopted adults find my story interesting.

  5. Sorry for the delayed response, Chris. I’ve been preoccupied with the technical aspects of my new site. You are absolutely right. It’s very strange for me to see shades of myself in these pictures of Lillian. But it’s also a relief for me to see her with her family doing ordinary things. I’m glad she had some pleasant moments in her short life.

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