Speaking of statistical improbabilities...


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 9, 2012 - 11:11pm PT
So, I started thinking about all of the things that had to happen in order to be here now...

If I just start from the moment when my daughter was first put in my arms, when it occurred to me that Ann's arms were empty...I couldn't stop thinking about how fortunate I was to have the care of this little soul entrusted to me, and yet, at the same time, my heart ached for what it must have felt like for Ann to have gone through something so miraculous and then have had to pack up her things to leave the hospital...and go home all alone.

I wanted her to have the chance, if it wasn't too painful for her, to meet my little muppet and to soak up some of the sunshine that she radiates constantly, if only to give her back some of the connection she had so bravely passed along to my mom and dad and me. I wanted to look into her eyes and express my love and gratitude and deepest respect.

My search started with obtaining my original birth certificate and a copy of a single sheet of "non-identifying" information from Catholic Charities about my birth parents. Non-identifying...no kidding.

There are many more women out there with my birth mother's name than I could have imagined, but I was able, with the assistance of two superb "search angels" to narrow it down, and finally located her birth record, which also listed her mother's maiden name, through which I was able to locate records on her mother, who had come to the US in the early part of the last century from England. While ancestry.com is a terrific resource for people who have already moved on, it's not such a great resource for people who are still living.

I scoured hundreds and hundreds of webpages, looking for clues that might lead to more information about my birth mom, but all I was able to come up with was a family tree that went backwards. I nearly gave up here, thinking that if she had wanted to be found, it would have been easier to locate her. I registered with a reunion registry, but there were no matches. I began to think that maybe she really didn't want to be found.

I eventually happened upon her 1969 UCLA graduation picture, which blew me away. What if UCLA hadn't had the yearbooks scanned into the Archives.com database? It renewed my hope, and I continued to search, but came up empty-handed time and again. When it finally did occur to me that she might have changed to her middle name, a few pieces of information popped up here and there, but nothing current.

Little did I know that Ann had spent time living abroad in Russia, and more recently, in Brazil. In fact, she was living in Brazil on a permanent resident visa until about 6 months ago when she went back to Alaska for health reasons. Now I know why it was so difficult to find anything about her -- she wasn't in the US and was busy getting on with living!

Had she not come back to the US, it is doubtful that I would have ever "found" her, or ever known if she was even still alive. I certainly never would have found her amazing sister! For reasons I can't explain, last fall I became more determined than ever to get my message to her. I purchased an address history report and sent a card to her around Thanksgiving of last year to the most recent address listed. And then I waited. And checked the mail every day. Until the card came back as no forwarding address the day before Christmas.

What to do...I felt like I was running out of time. I searched, and searched, and then searched some more. Then I happened upon a jazz magazine publication that had posted its mailing list for whatever strange reason, and I found an address for her from 2 years ago. I grabbed a larger envelope and stuck the returned card inside, along with a small family picture taken with Santa Claus, and put the card in the mail the very next morning (sometime between Christmas and New Year's Day). And the wait began again.

I secretly hoped that the card had made its way to her, and that maybe she was just waiting for my birthday to call. Silly, but I refused to let go of hope. My birthday came and went, and I made peace with things, knowing that I had done everything I could possibly do. Like BooDawg mentioned in reference to his posting of the UCLA "Traffic Diversion" story, the search I did one Friday night in March just before bed was almost an after thought. I assumed I wouldn't find anything, but thought what the heck.

I was completely blindsided when I saw the Alaska State Police Report. She had passed away just five days before my birthday. I was lost.

But Ann made sure I was "found" by listing her younger sister as her next of kin (and by sharing her story with her sister a number of years ago). And she also made sure that it would be possible for me to find out who my birth father was by sharing his name with Catholic Charities. What if she hadn't done either of these things?

Switching back to the puzzle of my birth father, what if Don Lauria hadn't posted the "Dolt Stories"? And what if DEE EE hadn't posted such a thoughtful comment about parents knowing Bill through UCLA? (It was adding "UCLA" to the mix of search terms that led to the "Dolt Stories" posts.) After all, if neither of these things had happened, I would still be completely in the dark. What if Catholic Charities had required that I get a court order before being willing to divulge any information? The lights would still be out.

And as BooDawg mentioned, he had posted the "Traffic Diversion" story almost as an after thought. What if he hadn't done so?

I suppose this is my way of dealing with the sadness that they are both now gone...in that I marvel every day at how many threads had to be woven together to lead me home. Lucky me!

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
May 9, 2012 - 11:56pm PT
Good for you for reaching out and It's good you are learning more about your birth parents.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 10, 2012 - 01:42am PT
Genealogy searches often seem to yield such random results for me,
so I'm glad that nothing very important or urgent depends on my searches.
But there is still a desire to learn more about people in the past.
For me, it is not so much that they are my relatives,
but that they are ordinary people, and I try to imagine what it was like to live in those days (usually the 1800s).

We even have an adoption story in our family tree.
All are different, I suppose.
In this one, we did not know about it until a relative of my mom's was contacted by some researchers in 1999.
Back in 1856, Abigail Lindley (age 26) became pregnant out of wedlock.
Abbie moved in with an aunt in New York, had a baby girl, and gave it up for adoption to a family in Ohio. She never married.
Abbie was well educated and became a teacher in Tennessee, and also sold books and pictures door-to-door.
Over time, she did a lot of travelling in Florida and kept diaries.
These she turned into a book about Florida, "Petals Plucked from Sunny Climes", published in 1879 under the pseudonym "Sylvia Sunshine".
Abbie's diaries were saved at Duke University, and in them she occasionally discussed her lost daughter:
 June 13, 1865 - the eve of Ortie's birthday, she wrote, "I was a child of strong impulses, with a restless disposition. I had no one to properly check my turbulent inclinations (her mother died in 1836), and guide my erring steps, until I had made an unfortunate move which I cannot remove with tears of blood, and now I am only waiting for my mission to be fulfilled, that I may live in peace and be at rest." (Abbie taught school in Tennessee for two years).

She never had direct contact with her lost daughter, but her father did, and she received some things from his estate, such as a family piano.

Researchers reading her diary were curious about her daughter, and managed to trace some of her descendents, reaching us. In 2000, my parents and some other family members had a gravestone made and placed it on Abbie's previously unmarked grave in St. Augustine, FL.

There is often a desire for family connections, I guess because working together has essentially helped family genes survive in the past.
You are lucky in some ways and have 2 families to connect with now (assuming your parents or their relatives are still alive).
Thank you for sharing your story.
At a minimum it gives us more insight into Bill Dolt and another factor for why he may have felt so discouraged in December 1971.
There are random factors in life; some mistakes get made, corrected as much as possible, some goals never get reached, and some are accomplished due to things out of our control.
We just have to ride it and try to do the best we can....

Trad climber
May 10, 2012 - 02:07am PT
WOW Lilabiene you're amazing - thank you so much for posting this.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
May 10, 2012 - 04:04am PT
Mothers day is really going to be special this year! Your an awesome mother and your daughter is one lucky kid. Let me wish you a happy Mothers Day.
Dos XX

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 10, 2012 - 08:59am PT
This is so cool, and amazing!

I have adopted two girls as infants. I never met my oldest daughter's birth mother (we did write her for many years, keeping her apprised of her daughter's life with us), but my adopted daughter (now 20 years old) tracked down her birth sister via Facebook, which eventually led to the chance to meet her birth mother in person. Her birth mother has lived, and continues to live a very rough life, which helped our adopted daughter appreciate the sacrifice her birth mother made on her behalf, and appreciate the wonderful life she's had as a member of our family. My oldest adopted daughter's name is Sierra, after the Range of Light, given long before it became as popular as it is today.

May 10, 2012 - 11:10am PT
I love LilaBiene's story of her search because it is so genuine. It is so awesome that her birth parents turned out to be such interesting people. Both of them seem to have interesting stories and the whole thing would make a book that I'd love to read. Although she claims to be shy, Lila can write and should.

I have a very different adoption story. My parents divorced when I was very small and I have almost no memories of my father. He was never home. After a couple years of living with my grandmother, my mom remarried a wonderful guy who took care of me, bought me what I needed and helped me through college. If I mention my dad, it is my adoptive father that I am referring to. He legally adopted me so my last name changed.

After my freshman year at SJSU, I went back to northern Idaho for the summer where I worked on a construction survey crew. One Saturday morning as I loafed in bed with my girlfriend, he knocked on the door and introduced himself. This was a bit of a shock and I suggested we meet later for lunch at a cafe - neutral territory. It's a convoluted story how he found me but it was my brother's doing not mine.

The next summer my girlfriend and I met him for a weekend camping trip in Oregon. I don't recall much about this weekend except it was uncomfortable being with his friends, new wife and two step daughters. That fall my brother and I along with our girlfriends spent a weekend with him and his wife on the coast. He volunteered to send us $50 a month to help with college (he had never paid any alimony or child support). The money never showed up and I never talked to him again.

During WW2 he had been in the navy with my uncle and once in awhile my uncle would let me know that he had heard from him. Before she passed way my grandmother heard from him once in awhile. Last summer my aunt called to say that his obituary had appeared in the paper. Odd feelings about that. My uncle tells me that the last time they talked all he wanted to talk about was the booze he drank.

I know nothing of his genealogy although I do recall his mother. I remember spending the weekend at her house. She tended bar for a living. Her "husband" drove a cab and was not there in the evenings. I recall watching TV in bed with her and my brother. Actually, my brother and I watched TV while she drank bottles of beer.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
May 10, 2012 - 11:33am PT
In 1983, shortly after having moved back to Merced, naturally I felt my life had ended and my dreams reflected this feeling. One stands vividly out: I am hiking down the trail from some mountain, loaded with climbing gear. I encounter myself coming up the trail, carrying my golf clubs. "Have you ever climbed Neon Green Pinnacle?" I ask myself.
"No, but have you seen one? I think it came over here."
I am in a better place now. Medication, you know.

Since this is about statistics, "Only one in 250 million have ever been to the top of Neon Green Pinnacle." In spite of its unique color, it is difficult to find, as it is where the white man's never been and the injun's afraid to go.

The possibility I would ever find the golf ball ended when I awoke.

I never played the 9-holer at the Ahwahnee. I don't think I missed much.

Firefall, though, I still don't believe they did it........and I saw it.

Trad climber
Twain Harte, California
May 10, 2012 - 02:07pm PT
This is just too good not to bump. Totally captivating story.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2012 - 10:09pm PT
Clint: What a fascinating story. And how amazing that some wonderful folks researched the genealogy, diaries and found your family. Incredible.

I agree with what you said about just doing your best. In the years when I was sick and doctors were of no help, I was at a very low point in my life and at times felt very hopeless as to whether I would ever be able to dig myself back out of the hole I had fallen into. (My uncle gave me some sage advice a few years back: When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging!) But you do the best you can, and if your persist long enough, things will turn themselves in a different direction.

It does weigh heavy on my heart that my birth may have contributed to his overwhelming sadness, especially since he was raised by foster parents himself. But I also believe that there is a very high probability that he suffered from celiac disease, which unless diagnosed, can take a terrible toll emotional health.

I want to celebrate his life, because he gave me some very rare qualities that I am grateful for every single day.

Social climber
chica de chico, I don't claim to be a daisy.
May 10, 2012 - 10:37pm PT

Lila, Hey....So cool to have you joining us here on the Taco... It has been an enjoyable- exciting story to hear...Thanks!

ps..Happy Mother' Day!!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
May 10, 2012 - 11:01pm PT
As it is Mothers Day any day now,
I wish all of you mothers out their will be satisfied with getting the least little shred of respect you deserve from your kids and for longer than the time it takes one of them to read and return a text...

Soppy sorry ass posers you are nonetheless mothers

Ave Eve

you know who I mean

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 11, 2012 - 08:26am PT
Modest Mouse: YES, we are all HUMAN!!! ;D

Social climber
Butterfly Town
May 13, 2012 - 01:55am PT
Lila: Few people REALLY know statistical improbabilities the way you do, and as is often said, "Timing is everything." Taking a bit of a leisurely morning today to continue unpacking and sorting my stuff that arrived from Hawaii a few weeks ago, I came across some stationery that I had from shortly after Dolt left us.

DoltPeg, 2 Dolt bolt hangers, and a Dolt Bashie, set on a sheet of Dol...
DoltPeg, 2 Dolt bolt hangers, and a Dolt Bashie, set on a sheet of Dolt's stationery.
Credit: BooDawg

I also rummaged in a box of vintage hardware and picked out several pieces that I'd be honored if you'd hold until you feel it's time to pass on to your daughter or to the YCA.

The chunk of aluminum with the hole and nylon loop and the # 4 as well as Dolt's logo stamped into it is a "bashie" or a "mashie," The metal is soft so that it could be pounded with a climber's hammer until it deformed around or into some irregularity in the rock. Then a carabiner was clipped into the nylon loop, and if it were well placed, it would hold a climber's weight and allow one to proceed higher. If not, well... The main problems with them were that they defaced the rock like pitons did and also the nylon would fray or rot under the sun's UV attack and then it would often make a problem for the next party to try to climb the route.

Dolt made at least 2 kinds of bolt hangers. These are used after one has hand drilled (with the help of one's hammer) a hole into the rock. Then one inserts a bolt and hanger into the hole to attach oneself to the rock.

Credit: BooDawg

The DoltPeg is similar to other pitons in that it has a tapering blade and is driven into cracks in the rock. Then a carabiner is clipped into the eye, and all manner of stuff is clipped into that one. Dolt's innovation with these was the D-shaped hole which he reasoned would allow the carabiner to lie closer to the rock and thus reduce leverage and the likelihood it would pull out. However, that advantage only occurs if it is placed in a mostly horizontal crack, and Yosemite's cracks are mostly vertical ones. Also, the fact that the hole is not round tends to decrease the strength of the piton's eye compared to a round hole since a round shape best resists deformation under the blows from one's hammer.

Credit: BooDawg

Credit: BooDawg

Happy Mother's Day Lila! It must feel great to have succeeded in identifying your own birth mother and father and to have begun meeting some of their friends. Lucky for you and your own daughter, improbable as it must have seemed at times to you!
john hansen

May 13, 2012 - 02:07am PT
that is quite insightful about the shape of the eye Ken.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - May 13, 2012 - 08:17pm PT
BooDawg: Oh, my...gosh, I'm completely at a loss for words*.

Though I'm still just beginning to learn about climbing hardware, wow...

I'll cop to being completely choked up, full of awe and reminded once again of how precious and beautiful life really is...and of how so many of life's most rewarding moments arise out of connection.

Thank you for the beautiful presentation of Bill's creations, and for providing the context and background. I could barely take my eyes off of the pictures to post a reply, and can not wait to go back and read your post again.

What a magical way to end mother's day -- my heart is so full!

Thank you!!!

P.S. My mother's day present is an intro to climbing package at a local Boston climbing gym -- this time around it will have so much more meaning for me. Should be booking flights for the face lift soon.

*Good friends will attest that this has hardly ever happened in the history of moi. ;)
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
May 13, 2012 - 09:51pm PT
Well, BooDawg went to UCLA, which in LA-speak means "you are looking at Los Angeles" so he's nothing if not insightful.
But they don't tell you the shtuff he knows in the classroom. He's had decades to learn this and decades to forget it. It's good to hear this technical aspect of the lost art, well, ignored art.
Nailing was just so much fun, I never stopped to consider the niceties and never pursued it past the basics, really.
There is a world of difference in what the professional observer sees and what the casual observer merely thinks he is seeing.
MFM (a dolt in a former life)
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
May 13, 2012 - 11:43pm PT
Lila, just holler if you need help or advice with FaceLift logistics and arrangements. If you're used to camping that'll help, but isn't entirely necessary. As you can see from:

Social climber
"close to everything = not at anything", ca
May 14, 2012 - 01:44am PT
wow. cool story. tfpu

Trad climber
Fumbling towards stone
May 14, 2012 - 02:18am PT
Wow... You are a good story teller Lila! Amazing story indeed and it made my night. Especially the part where you reveal you father's name. My jaw was on the ground!

This Taco Stand certainly can be a magical place.

Since you have mentioned you're in the Boston area, that photo on the golf course looks like Cape Cod or nearby to me. I grew up in Massachusetts and spent many summers at my grandfather's summer home in Chatham.

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