Hi everyone, Katie here.
So that last one had you putting your kleenex to the test, huh? I'm glad you're enjoying the story. Although many mysteries have been revealed, there's still a lot to tell. Glogirly calls it a journey. So let's journey on!
Glogirly was so anxious to talk with her cousin Sharon again. They had a lifetime of questions to ask and stories to tell. Just as she did before, Glogirly prepared her spot at the kitchen counter. Her list of questions had grown. Her note paper, pen, water and Kleenex were all neatly arranged.
She called at their prearranged time and Sharon answered right away. She was so excited to learn more about Glogirly and her family. Funny, Glogirly had overlooked the fact that her birth family might be as interested in her as she was in them. She hadn't even thought about what she'd tell them. How do you sum up a life in a telephone conversation? She answered Sharon's questions about her adoptive parents, the fact that she was an only child and what that was like growing up, where they'd lived, college, marriage, jobs, everything.
They discovered that when Glogirly was adopted, their families lived not far apart. They both went to Pismo Beach on weekends in the summer, probably playing in the same sand.
Sharon instinctively knew that Glogirly's curiosity was still far greater than her own, so the conversation turned to her family. She began by talking about her mother, Jeanette.
The first thing Glogirly wanted to know about Jeanette was what her real name was. So much confusion in the public records she found left Glogirly asking, was it Jeanette Blanche? Was it Blanche Jeanette? Did she go by Jeanette? Or Blanche? Although it wasn't what her birth record indicated, Jeanette's legal name was Blanche Jeanette. Blanche Jeanette Beecham Cotter. She had gone by her middle name, Jeanette, her whole life. No wonder there was so much confusion. Those people that choose to use their middle names make the business of genealogy a difficult one!
Jeanette was born on September 27, 1924. Just 19 days after Glogirly's dad, her adoptive dad that is.
Sharon and her mother had a very close relationship, especially since her father had passed away some 25 years ago. He had served in World War II and returned home extremely frail and thin. At 6' 4" he weighed only 150 pounds. It was clear she loved her father very much, but there was a sadness in her voice as she described his struggles with alcohol. She believed the traumas of war were just too much for him.
Sharon and Jeanette shared a small house in San Luis Obispo. It was very close to the Rite Aid store that Glogirly had read about.
Her mother's other siblings were Jim, the oldest brother, then Fred, the younger brother and Dorothy, a younger sister. Glogirly felt a little funny...so much of this she already knew from her research.
Fred had recently moved into a long-term care facility due to some health problems. He had an estranged daughter and never married.
Jim lived with his wife Armrel, or Armie for short, on the original family ranch property in a small township called Los Osos. Los Osos sat between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay, California. Sharon explained that the family, her grandparents and their children, lived in a small ranch house in the hills of Los Osos. They had a large parcel of land that her grandfather had homesteaded. They raised cattle, some sheep, and a few crops as well. Her grandfather's primary business though was roads. He built many of the original roads in the Los Osos area and had an arsenal of earth moving equipment. He also built the local cemetery where Alice is now buried. After the grandparents passed away, the 1,000 acres of land was split up between all five children. Jim, the oldest son, continued on with his father's road and ranching business and built a house on his section of the land where he raised his own family. Not long ago, he built a second house and his son Craig (Glogirly's cousin) moved his family into the first home. Craig ran the road construction part of the family business for his father. Again, much of this information Glogirly had found online. She felt a little like a stalker. She had even looked on Google Earth at a satellite photo of the ranch property. At the time she didn't even know it was a ranch. But she saw the hills, the dirt roads and the buildings. So many times she had fantasized about calling up the Beecham Construction Corporation. Would her cousin answer? What would his voice sound like?
Sharon didn't go into details, but it was clear there was something of a falling out between the oldest brother's family and her own. Apparently they hadn't seen each other or spoken in over fifteen years. Sharon told Glogirly that she had no plans to contact Jim's family and tell them about her. She was cryptic and said that they had not been very nice to her family or to Alice, Glogirly's birthmother. If Glogirly wanted to contact them, Sharon would leave that up to her.
Ready for the school Christmas pageant
Sure likes those white gloves
Sharon talked about her Aunt Dorothy. Dorothy was the middle sister between Jeanette and Alice. After she and her mother read Glogirly's letter, they called Dorothy right away. Sharon asked if she was sitting down. Not knowing what to expect and probably scared to death, Dorothy listened as Sharon read the letter word for word. Dorothy could hardly speak. It was such a terrible time she cried. Alice so desperately wanted to keep the baby. Dorothy had a hard time forming her sentences.
Dorothy and Jeanette both had children and they very much wanted to work it out. But Jeanette had four kids and her hands were full. Dorothy had a new baby and little did she know, another soon to be on the way. They just couldn't handle another baby.
Their father was extremely old fashioned and their mother was not in good health. Alice didn't have a steady job or much earning potential. It was such a sad time for her. Alice's father felt she should be practical and not keep the baby. It was Dorothy that contacted Children's Home Society for Alice.
Sharon remembered Alice as a happy person. Although her life was not easy, she didn't fall into the "woe is me" trap. She found solace in the church and was very involved in her local parish. Alice was a spiritual woman and didn't want to be selfish. As much as she wanted to keep Glogirly, she knew that would have been selfish.
Sharon also described Alice as headstrong. She was a free thinker, extremely bright and intelligent. When she was younger, her physical disability wasn't bad. She was always smaller than the other kids her age growing up and a little clumsy, or awkward. But she pushed right through it.
Glogirly thought about the kids in her grade school class. They could be so cruel to anyone even remotely different. She felt shame over kids she was either too shy or too scared to stand up for. She hoped that Alice had not found herself between the cross hairs of bullies.
Glogirly knew just from reading the background report that her birthmother had a strained relationship with her father. She supposed that just about any young woman in her predicament would. A few years before Glogirly was born, Alice fell deeply in love. Her father did not approve of the relationship. Alice was young and single. The man was older than her and he was an African American. It was the late 1950's and this type of thing was just not socially acceptable.
What came next, shook Glogirly to her core.
Alice's father sent her off to a state hospital. There was even mention of this in Glogirly's background report. She was there for a few months until no one could prove that there was anything at all wrong with her. Sharon believed that Alice was forced to undergo electric shock treatments.
Glogirly imagined herself at the same age. About 23 years old. It was a different time for Alice, but Glogirly just couldn't understand how a father could send away his own child. She reminded herself over and over that this was just one account and there were likely many other versions of the same story. Still, it was hard to think about.
As Sharon was growing up, she would notice that Alice was sad at certain times of the year. Eventually when Sharon was a teenager, her Aunt Alice told her why. As Glogirly had often wondered, her birthmother WAS thinking about her on her birthday and mothers day.
Much later in life, Alice had a long-term relationship with a man about 5 years before she passed away. She was very much in love with him. Their relationship was misunderstood by the family though. Some felt he was taking advantage of her, that he was an opportunist. Alice knew what they thought and this made her very sad. Others felt he tried to help and protect her. This man she loved served as somewhat of a caregiver for a while, but eventually it ended.
The realization that Alice had such a hard life was tough for Glogirly to take. It all seemed unfair. Tougher though were the questions that all of this now raised.
Sharon wished she had more about Alice to share. Although to Glogirly it was a wealth of information, Sharon knew there was much more. She explained that it was Dorothy who was really the closest to Alice. Just three years apart, they grew up together, went to school together. They were each other's best friend.
Sharon encouraged Glogirly to call or email Dorothy. Glogirly had a suspicion that much of Alice's life lived with Dorothy. This was not a matter for email, or an unannounced phone call. Dorothy had contacted the adoption agency after all. That meant that she was very much involved in Alice's life during her pregnancy. Glogirly wanted to show the same respect and gratitude to Dorothy that she had shown Jeanette. So she wrote another letter.
Just three days after Glogirly mailed the letter, the phone rang.
It was Dorothy.