Ha! Quick post! Ha!
Ray's sister sent ashes, which are still in the shipping box. I'm supposed to scatter them in Central Park. I will someday.
I did end up breaking into Ricky's apartment, once, after Marina had convinced him to sell a painting to some vampire art dealer she met at a nursing home. Ricky has gout and hep C and deep deep sadness, and I've paid $250 towards his rent this month and last month; I paid his 2015 tax bill, too. We have a little agreement that the payments all get tallied towards the nice paintings at $2000 a pop. Only one has come back to Ohindinois so far; a little oval portrait of a Civil-war era old lady. It's hanging over our clawfoot tub.
The kids are well. My gosh! They are well. They are beautiful and smart and growing like weeds; I give it two months until the older one is taller than I am. Beaker is well too, although he had a terrible health crisis in 2014; his physical recovery took months, and I was more traumatized than I realized.
Around that time my "service commitments" increased drastically, and the whole damn campus started going to hell. (Coincidence? I think not.)
A couple of months after that last post, I sent DNA to Ancestry and everyone else who would take it. I convinced Ricky and his brother to send in samples too. No close matches for a long time. I built out a huge tree for my mother's family.
Ancestry sold a shit-ton of kits over Christmas 2016; they're still processing them. Three weeks ago I got a close match who didn't match my uncles and had a tree. I recognized enough names from other weaker matches' trees to focus on a particular grandparent of hers.
Turns out that grandparent had another grandchild with exactly the common name my mother claimed my father had: let's say, William Taylor. Two years older than my mother. I built out a tree. After three days, I had more DNA matches traceable through that little tree than through my mother's. I found matches through all four of William's grandparents, even the medium-late immigrant lines. (He only had one grandparent in common with the initial match—they are half-first-cousins.)
Google told me that William died about 10 years ago, when he was 66. His wife died about 3 years ago. He has a brother and sister still alive, and a daughter; I couldn't tell whether the wife was her mother but it seemed somehow unlikely. He'd started at two colleges (the first one quite good), lived in several cities, never really seemed to hold jobs for long. He was a journalist, but it was achingly difficult to find any clips. (Do you see where this is going? I saw the shadows, but.)
Quite quickly, my new DNA match contacted me. She's lovely and kind. She understood the DNA evidence; she also saw that the biggest missing link was whether William had been in New York at the right time. She talked with her cousin, William's sister, and then she sent me the sister's e-mail address.
The sister, Linda, is unsentimental and direct. (My kind of potential aunt, especially since we had to meet like this.) She was: well, not unconvinced. And invited me to ask questions about her brother.
I first described my mother's mental illness, and then said I hoped I was ready to hear just about anything—but also understood that some things are too hard to talk about.
Linda confirms that William was in New York at the right time. She is sure because she visited him at Bellevue, where he'd been taken after having a psychotic break; diagnosis of schizophrenia. From what she's told me so far, it sounds like he never decompensated as badly again, but always had trouble living independently; he finally moved back in with his widowed mother when he was about 50. He was consistently difficult to get along with.
Let me be clear: My parents probably met as psychiatric patients. They both suffered from major mental illnesses.
I've been pretty torn up the last few days.
I asked for pictures. One evening, as I was hacking away at a necessary memo that will anger many of my dear colleagues, Linda kept sending them, one in each e-mail, every five minutes, for a couple of hours.
I finally cried at a picture of William's proud and tentative young mother holding her tiny newborn baby. Was he a bit of a preemie? Did his mother look just like my younger daughter? Did she die as exhausted and bitter as my mother's mother did, after decades of letting her dreams for her oldest child drift away?