I really enjoy a good romantic suspense novel. Some stories have a a mysterious letter from the past in them, a letter hidden long ago that reaches into the present, saves the day and explains all.
Turns out, my mother wrote a letter in 1962 that I am just now seeing for the first time. Unfortunately, it isn’t a great letter of love or sacrifice. It is quite the glimpse into the self-absorbed, narcissistic world my mother lived in. It has created more questions than explanations.
My aunt very reluctantly recently shared the letter from my mother to herself and my uncle. She’s had it tucked away in her things for the last 54 years. I think she was and is embarrassed by it. My mother tended to behave in an overly dramatic and often bizarre way in life. It took me a long time to give up ownership of her actions and not be embarrassed by her behavior. Regardless, my aunt saved the letter and finally shared it with me. I hope she understands that she has nothing to be embarrassed about. She and my uncle were the victims in this letter, and I’m confident they didn’t do anything to even suggest that such a letter should even be written. It is just another example of my mother’s strange mind connecting dots that didn’t exist to reach a preconceived conclusion, and making up stories to fit.
Although undated, we know the letter was written sometime shortly after I was born in March of 1962. It is written neatly, in mom’s perfect penmanship, not a single misspelling, with full and complete sentences. Her words and syntax were carefully chosen to be grand and elaborate. She seemed to be was on a grandiloquent mission to punish self-perceived wrongs committed against her. It is incredibly over-the-top. It is also angry and full of jealousy.
The story is this letter was a result of a request my mother made of her brother that could not be fulfilled. My mother never named my father, not to me, not to her brother, not to anyone that we know of. She was unmarried, single and 32 years old when she had me. Details of that time of her life are purposefully sketchy, but what we know is just a couple of weeks after I was born, my mother showed up at my uncle’s home, which she often just did. Along with her she brought newborn me, and a man, described by my aunt as having blonde/reddish hair and blue eyes. He seemed to care a lot about me and had purchased baby things for me, including a stroller. This was the first and last time this man, whose name no one remembers, ever came around. My aunt was under the impression he was not my father. Not long after that visit the red-haired man was apparently gone. My mother contacted my uncle asking him to please contact a “Mr. Turner” on her behalf. Mr. Turner, as my aunt remembers, was a music teacher who lived Independence, Missouri, but she doesn’t believe he was the red-haired man my mother brought with her that day. Mother wanted my uncle to contact Mr. Turner with the message that he was to come and get her. These details are not in the letter, but lead up to it.
After what I can only imagine was probably a lifetime roller coaster ride of of emotional manipulation and abuse at the hands of my mother, my uncle told her no — no, he would not contact Mr. Turner, she would have to do it herself.
Who Mr. Turner was, what he may have meant to her or to me, if anything, and why my mother couldn’t contact him herself are all mysteries. But my uncle’s refusal to be drawn into my mother’s latest drama, seemed to have left her feeling very out of control of her situation. She fired off this “goodbye” letter, and seemed to be attempting to punish my uncle and aunt for her situation. She said grand things like, “Never again are we to see or speak to one another,” and “There now exists a complete severing of all relationship.” She carried on about how she felt as if she’d been purposefully made to seem small and insignificant in comparison to her brother. It was clear she was very jealous of my uncle and his life. It felt to me to be manipulative and narcissistic. As one of my cousins noted, it looked like she was attempting to engage my uncle and aunt; as if by engaging and getting a response, she still had an “in” to a relationship she could control. But she was terribly frustrated in the end having lost control, and that obviously upset her.
Everyone will take what they want from mom’s letter, but what stood out to me was that as a brand-new, first-time mother, she did not anywhere in this four page rant mention concern for her child, or that she even had a child. Her brand new infant was completely absent. It was totally about her. She also did not bother to mention why it was so terribly important to contact Mr. Turner.
The self-imposed severing of the relationship only lasted about two years. The story is Mother just nonchalantly reappeared one day in my uncle and aunt’s lives, without a word as to where she or I, had been. She never mentioned the incident in 1962, and according to my aunt, acted as if the entire episode never even happened.
I had mentioned the mysterious music teacher, Mr. Turner, to a friend at work who remembered from her childhood The Turner Music Store on the Square in Independence, Missouri. It was a family business and was operated by Mr. Turner, and his wife. Mr. Turner died in 1989 according to Mrs. Turner’s short obituary from 2003. There’s absolutely no evidence this is the Mr. Turner my mother was so interested in, nor should any relationship be implied. There’s nothing good that would result in pursuing any of this all these many years later.
This letter and any clues around it will have to rest in peace; nothing has been saved, and nothing has been explained.