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my mom, Barbara

Dear Rosa,

You never met my dad, he was born five years after your death. I’ve told you some about him, now I’d like you to know about his wife of nearly 30 years, my mom.

Barbara’s family came to America the same time as Henry’s father’s (the Ferry clan) – over 130 years before the Revolutionary War. The Blairs had only just come to Vermont some 20 years before your birth, but that’s another story. The Ferry’s stayed in Springfield, Massachusetts, until Hiram headed north and brought the clan to Vermont over 100 years ago. Mom’s family landed in America and hit the path west.

The Randall’s, it seemed, were restless souls, seeking the American Dream on their push west. First they settled in Indiana, then Chickasaw, Iowa, then moved on to Tacoma, Washington. It was Spokane where she met my father – he was that devilishly-handsome fellow training to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force. She was but seventeen.

My mom was shy, young, beautiful and scarred from a rough, troubled childhood. How could a parent toss a child into the foster care system? Tear a family of siblings apart and send them to anyone that would take them? How could a mother allow a daughter to be hurt by a stranger?

Alcohol’s a resounding theme in my family.

She never knew her dad, George Lawrence. Only knew he died too young from drinking.  Only learned of his birth date, birth place and date of his death through the research I did this summer. It was healing, at least for me, and hopefully a comfort for her, to know that Larry had parents. He came from somewhere, someone had loved him once, too. I have a yellowed piece of paper that Mom gave me – a wedding invitation from her grandparents.

See Mom, I said, your dad had a life. Here is his history. Here is yours.

Grand names the Randall’s had… Leander, Thomas and Joshua and sweet, feminine names like Adeline and Mary. They were dentists and barbers, homemakers and wives. Imagine, Rosa, my mom’s lineage goes back to the Randalls in England, the Buckmasters in Wales and all she ever thought as a child is: I am alone. I am no one.

She survived with her sense of humor and joy intact. My children adore her and she would do anything for them. Barbara’s grown into the kind of person I could only dream of being… kind to all, fiercely loyal and sweet beyond words. It’s her birthday this week. She turns 75. I wish for her health, happiness and love.

I wish you had met her.

She’s my world.

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