Today, July 15, is my Foster Mom’s Birthday… This amazing Lady who loved me when it felt like no-one else did. Who taught me my value, who showed me that we can rise above “stereo-typing”. She taught me how to laugh at myself, and to be silly. A woman whom I pushed beyond all limits, and even as she was struggling with her own terminal cancer, was still strong enough to help me.
I met her in the Fall of 1987, I was 13 almost 14. I had already been in 3 different homes and a “Psycho” unit… I am still unsure when I went in to foster care… The first couple days/months/ weeks… are just kind of gone, but they may come back. I am sure I was dubbed a “trouble-maker”. I know I wasn’t happy, who would be?
No one wanted me, not my own family, I was in and out of court, I know that was a lot to deal with for a family to take on, plus I was suppose to go to therapy. I was a BIG responsibility. I was sullen and rebellious, I was lost, I was unloved and unwanted, and I didn’t understand why, I didn’t do anything wrong, I just told… I told that big ugly secret, and now I was being punished. I wanted to die, who could love me, if my own parents couldn’t? Apparently nobody, because finding me a “home” was proving to be difficult.
My Social Worker promised me that I could decide if I wanted to stay at this next “placement”… She said she would not leave me there unless I felt comfortable with the family… It seemed like such a long drive. It was to me, and it still is far out there. We pulled into the driveway and I grabbed my stuff, I am sure she said something about me getting out while she got her stuff together. I grabbed my sack, yes a sack, I didn’t have much, maybe a change of clothes, such is the life of a foster child. Then my worker just backed up, and left me there! No knock on the door to introduce me, NOTHING! I just stood there…
Standing on a porch, in front of the house, I would be staying at.. I thought I had some choice, guess not.
She opened the door: “Hi, my name is Carla, would you like to come in and talk?, we have been waiting for you.”
I stared at her for a minute, I wanted to believe her eyes, her loving voice, but adults were liars and only hurt me. I wanted her to know that I was strong, and that I DIDN’T NEED HER, when you showed someone you needed them, they just used it against you.
I walked inside, I told them that I would do my best to live by their rules, I told them I knew I was stuck until they didn’t want me anymore. Then for good measure I threw in “I will never call you Mom or Dad”, I said it was so much bravado, I needed them to know that I didn’t need them, because I knew in the end it was only temporary, and soon they would be done with me. I was so scared. How could I get left again??? I hated my worker, I hated my life.
“I’m sure you are a little overwhelmed with all of this, let me show you your room. You can get settled. School has started, and we will need to go shopping for some clothes.” She was taking a firm but very gentle approach.
I stared at her, she wasn’t angry, she didn’t have disgust in her eyes. She wanted to take me somewhere! I was thrown.
“I have some clothes” I was still going to be strong. She could be tricking me.
“It looks like you have some, but I know I like to start school with some new things, it’s a special occasion, and you should have some new things to celebrate it.” She meant it.
We shopped together a lot, Carla taught me about great prices, and great sales, and how every time you went shopping you had to get a cookie, or three.
I remember sitting there one day, when she told me that she had made me a dentist appointment. I thought that was weird, she asked me what happened? This story to come soon….
She taught me we could carry our scars on the inside, and that we could show the world that we were fine, that we could become fine, that we needed to celebrate the small victories!
She was so beautiful, she was always put together, her makeup always matched her clothes. She was funny, she didn’t care what other people thought, she worried about her weight, I thought it was dumb, to me she was perfect.
I still have cards and letters she wrote me…ha-ha, another story.. (and you can find that here) But could you write your life in one post?
I miss her every day, even after this long….