This photo of Bill was taken by Tom Frost, and was given to us at the Oakdale Climbers Festival. It is impossible (at least at this point!) to put into words what it feels like to hold this picture in my hands.
For forty years I never even dared to imagine that you existed. It was only a couple of years ago, when I realized that I needed to find Ann and thank her for what she did for me, that the smallest ray of hope began to take root in my heart. If I could find information about Ann, perhaps I could find you, too. As I hope you are aware by now, she has joined you in the spritual world...and is finally free of the medical challenges that burdened her beginning a few years before she met and fell in love with you. Her family was not a supportive place to be, and she did the bravest thing imaginable, leaving for Anchorage and ensuring that I was born healthy and adopted into a good family. I envision Ann strong, spreading her wings and soaring now, no longer encumbered.
Whether or not you knew about me is an unanswered question. I doubt I will ever know, since your personal effects have gone to the four winds. But perhaps with time, more of your life will reveal itself to me.
I've lived in this body of mine for 42 years, and I have a pretty good idea of the challenges you faced (defiantly, ashamedly alone), as well as the pure joy you experienced interacting with the world kinesthetically. You saw things invisible to most, and felt things far deeper in your soul than you could ever begin to explain. You were happiest when you were imagining and creating and working with your hands, especially if this also involved being at one with the great outdoors. I'll bet you never met a problem (not talking relationships here) that didn't inspire you with the challenge of sorting out its resolution...even if it meant staying up for days as you looked at the puzzle from every possible angle.
Relating to other people...it's not easy, is it, when you're coming from a different place in how you experience the world? Intensity scares people. And it's not easy to temper emotions to the wavelengths at which most people operate...somewhat like a water faucet that is either gushing like a fire hydrant, or not at all. Being crippled emotionally by celiac disease makes for poor choices, and even greater self recrimination when you can't somehow fulfill the needs of someone who was a poor choice to begin with. But suffering with celiac disease, you can't see your way through the oppressive fog...ever...especially if you haven't any idea that something other than your own poor choices or character fault is framing everything you see, feel and experience... sadness... emptiness... hopelessness... loneliness...fear. All things that you don't want to burden the rest of the world with, because you believe that you will wear them out if you reveal your dark, unlovable, vulnerable truth.
Had you had the benefit of a simple change in diet, I am confident that your overabundance of energy and ideas would not have run out, nor your hope that you would find a partner with whom you could share your life and in whom you could place your trust that you would not be abandoned, yet again. I KNOW that the grey, heavy veil through which you viewed the world (and pretended most days didn't exist) would have been lifted, and that you would have felt whole, without a "pit" in the bottom of your stomach for the first time in your life. Imagine the possibilities of living your life set free from sadness that gnaws at you from the inside out. The doggedness, creativity and compulsion to solve problems that both you and Ann passed along to me enabled me to solve the puzzle of overwhelming physical and emotional pain...just not in time to make a difference for you.
I've tried for months to come up with a way to explain how it feels to have "found" my birth parents, two amazingly wonderful people, only to learn that Ann never knew I had tried to contact her (my letter was in her post office box when she passed away) and that you had taken your own beautiful life.
These last 10 months, since I roughly "found" both of you, have been wonderfully full of elation, at times drastically devoid of hope...and incredibly, beyond my ability to fathom, beautiful and replete with connections...to the stories of your lives, to the places you loved and to the most amazing group of people made up of your friends and fellow climbers.
I can't explain how it feels because it feels differently every time I try to put the words to paper. I wish. I ache. Great big tears roll down my face out of nowhere and catch me off guard. I beg...hope...flounder...get crushed with grief, and laugh. I retreat, reframe and reach out, trying, once again, to grasp...anything...that might lead me to knowing you, feeling your presence. What I would give to feel your arms around me, a chance to hear your voice, to look into your eyes, to hear you tell me a story, show me a favorite climb, to know your smell, your favorite shirt, to learn the things that meant most to you, what you admired in other people, what beliefs you held true...to hear you laugh, to watch you work, inspired with that creative spark I know so well.
I'm paralyzed, in a sense, I think, because I'm afraid if I allow myself to grieve, I'll have to admit that I will never know you...and this breaks my heart. Your beautiful soul now inhabits two people...your baby girl, and her baby girl. I hope beyond all reason that you can see how much we love you...and how much all of your friends, after 40 years, still love you, even more.
We hope to honor your memory, and to make you proud.
With all the love in the world,
P.S. This is an interim TR; I will post a TR about our trip to Oakdale-Mariposa-L.A.-Healdsburg once I have found my way further through the morass of emotions that have taken over since that trip.
Once again, LilaBiene, the eloquence of your words reflect the wondrous journey on which you have embarked. LIFE, itself, has placed you on your path, and you've chosen to bravely follow it to the deepest parts of your heart and back out again to the wider world to share your gifts of LIFE which include some of your sorrow.
The Dolt will never be forgotten even if never fully known. He is part of this tribes history. A present that you are part of. This is your inheritance. It's a strange one. A good one I'd say.
As far as proud.. My god your story as it has unfolded here on this site makes me proud just to be a part of the same species. Human. Your father could not possibly be less than amazed and so incredibly proud and happy.
Are your adoptive parents still alive?
I know of one person who was adopted, but her adoptive parents were elderly. When they passed away, she sought out her biological mother and that family has embraced her.
I can see that your biological parents had some troubles and are interesting people (and tragic in the case of Bill Dolt).
But I am surprised at the level of emotion directed toward them.
It is kind of like you are trying to solve their problems, ex post.
But it was Ann's choice not to involve you, so it's not your fault that you couldn't help in the past.
We all want to be "wanted" children, but desire for children is supposed to be transferred to the adoptive parents.
Sorry if I have asked this before and you already answered. It seems like you are looking at the nature and nurture components, and trying to find answers about your personality that were inherited from your biological parents?
OMG, someone get me off of this overcrowded, stuffy, overheated, meandering-like-a-lost-cow commuter bus creeping along the Mass. Pike...please?????!--Lilabiene in the last sixty minutes
Calls for the NSD Squad are a dime a dozen, but this is "fue real" from the lady with Dolt's nose.
We need some help, here. Lady goin' to crack up here!
Snap out of it! Think odd thoughts of things like, oh, sealing wax. Boogers. Anything but commuting.
Alex commutes on the Nose. WTF. You commute where you are polluted.
Mick looks drunk, eh? I'm working on my escape from normal.
F*#k a nervous nellie, that woman's nothing like you, Lilabiene. You'll get your wings and fly once you've gone out on the Arete.
So there. You've been singed by de Flames. Feel intervened?
Are you on your diet? God forbid you have nothing to do...
edit" As you can see, this was posted in response to your post this afternoon, just hours before you posted this TR. No wonder you were worked up. Hang. Just hang. Beautify the world with your bare soul, sister.
Oh my goodness, Lilabiene. Once again, you have moved me deeply and the tears are flowing. If someone as random and removed from your Dad's world as I am (I was just a boy in his time) can be so affected and touched by his impact on the world (his stories and legacy, which as you note, include you and your little girl), how cannot he not be massively present for you?
You wrote: "All things that you don't want to burden the rest of the world with, because you believe that you will wear them out if you reveal your dark, unlovable, vulnerable truth."
Maybe one of his gifts to you is how you have learned from his fear and shame of being vulnerable. In some ways, likely more than anyone else here, you have been vulnerable in very presence and the telling of your epic tale. And from that vulnerability arises great courage.
And your story is epic. Fantastic, sorrowful, full of wrong turns and dead ends, joyful, wanting, triumphant, full of laughter and the gamut of many other things I can only imagine. You remind me of Odysseus, who took twenty years to get home from the Trojan War. Many adventures, detours, and trials along the way, sometimes in an opiated stupor, sometimes in despair, sometimes in bliss, but ultimately always continuing that rowing, rowing to get back home. But when he finally made it home, he was whole and was well equipped to defend and reclaim his family and home (contrast the hubris and tragedy of Agamemnon and his family: he only took three weeks to return home from the Trojan war). Odysseus, on the other hand, was all the richer for his struggling journey.
Hold off on grieving for a bit if that is what your gut tells you; there is so much for you to process now that you figured out how to open the floodgates that held back all the connections to him. And all this information is rushing out now. But don't be afraid to grieve, it will be painful, but walling off that grief in the long run likely could turn toxic.
I can related in a little way to you in that I too have a lost father. But that is for another time. This is your story.
I don't know of the musical enhancements effects as i didn't click on them.I do know the feel, taste, texture of your story was extraordinary
. You have a powerful talent and a worthy story that your soul is begging to explore and answer as fully as possible. May your yearning to know ,to explain the roots of your own journey through this world, continue to find its way to paper. I think it would be a major piece of literature. Good luck.
Thanks from my heart for all of your thoughtful and guiding comments, and pictures..
I shared this part of my journey because I think it provides insight into Bill's world, and not just in the last several years of his life. It is my hope that those folks that knew and loved Bill, and for whom his death is still a source of sadness (and for some, overwhelming guilt), will be able to read this and realize that there was nothing that they could have done to change what happened. Not only was he unable to see through the fog himself, but no one could have penetrated or alleviated the fog, either.
Here is one poem that was passed along to me, written by Bill on 10 Jan. 1970 (ca. 1.5 months before I was born):
The Climb: Part I Mountain Storm
Listen to the rain
upon my cloth roof
Sounds like a thousand
horses on the hoof
Louder than thunder
and louder still
the lightening screams
a'noise that's shrill
My icy spine
and leaden feet
my stomach's gripped
knowing that fear can kill
and oh my God
this mountain shakes
Yes, fear have I
of Titanic quakes
The icy stream it
laps my stakes
Boulders move and
rocks come down
Wind's not a'wind at all
But a demon gone wild
My helmet, where is it
My axe in hand
and boots on foot
do battle will I
I face the enemy
What it's gone
The world's transformed
the icy walls and glistening spires
Golden ball send down your warmth
time to fly
on wings of plume
The ridge it waits
come, let's climb........
A special thank you, from my heart, to Boo, Lisa, Jay, Ron, Wayne, Anders, Frank, Ruth and Martin R. for "being there" without being called this first Christmas Eve after learning that Bill was my birth dad.
My stubborn heart refuses to let go or accept the reality of the situation, so I will simply consciously accept that this is where I'm meant to be right now...
My birth parents were amazing...I'm just a regular-old goofball. ")
T*R, thank you for sharing the gift of your story, and especially your pictures. I love the message below the picture of you and your birth dad. It warms my heart to know that the two of you were able to look into one another's eyes. How fortunate are we to "know" where our stories began? ") Hugs right back atcha!
And how lucky are we all that our paths have crossed in this great, big world and at a time when "time" is at an absolute premium? Humbling.
I wish I had the words to express how deeply appreciative and deeply affected I am by the boundless kindness bestowed upon me by the ST community over the last 10 months...I guess I'm just going to have to hug all of you. :D
GLEE, you are so incredibly thoughtful! Thank you for the suggestions and links, the NH and Gunks climbing guides (YAY!), the info about the Shire and the Boston climbs info. Now I've got no excuse not to get about scrambling...
Mike Sherrick, I'm in suspended awe -- thank you from my heart for sharing your Dolt catalogs with me, and the pack has already been put to use by the muppet (she's stuffed it full of her most favorite things already -- one of which is a stopper we bought at REI!). The catalogs are wonderful in the way that they reflect Dolt's personality, and also provide historical context for his and others' gear. Truly to be treasured.
Frank Hoover, I think about our wonderful visit last fall every day. And for some strange reason, orange peels now make me laugh myself silly. I hope you'll share that story here on ST (and the many other wonderful stories you shared, too!). Thank you for the beautiful Christmas card, which I have in my office -- a happy reminder every day. The muppet and I have been searching for the perfect frame for the exquisite butterfly, and will post a picture once we've committed ourselves. ")
MAD BOLTER, you held out on me. You never told me you also appeared on film. Eh-hem. Imagine my surprise as I'm watching the story of the Huber brothers, fully and happily engrossed in the Bavarian dialect I learned so many moons ago, and all of a sudden, there you are!!! You should know that the Dolt piton you gave me at the Facelift goes wherever I go and means more to me than I could ever say.
The muppet's gone quiet...I'd better go investigate. More to come...
So I'd been mulling over how to go about looking into how Bill became an orphan for, oh, say, about a year. I figured the best option would be to try to track down his parents' relatives in Germany, but thus far I've encountered two dead ends. (Nothing like a good challenge!)
I'd found the names of his guardians some time ago in a couple of US census records, and even spoken with one of their descendants, but this trail also went dark.
A couple of weeks ago, Bill's military service records arrived precisely on the one-year anniversary of my birth mom, Ann's death. A coincidence that brightened my day, and got me to thinking that I should start tackling Bill's roots from another direction.
So...Friday night I decided to do some research on orphanages in Chicago during the Great Depression (figuring there would be 100s). I happened upon a number of excerpts from a book on the history of the Chicago Orphans Asylum. I started to read and was completely drawn in by its fascinating history and cast of characters. Hmmmmm, I thought, and gave myself a swift kick in the tail.
I mustered the courage to write to the orphanage to inquire whether they still retained records from the 1930s, and if Bill (per chance) had been placed there. (I was fully prepared to be disappointed.) By Monday, I had a compassionate email response from a social worker at the now Chicago Child Care Society, confirming that Bill had been placed there, the dates he was there, where he had later been placed and some background about his circumstances. A copy of his record was attached to the email. I was blown out of the water, and I still feel as though I'm being catapulted through space and time.
Really...what are the chances of actually ever finding the orphanage where Bill was placed in the 1930s, at a time when the country was in absolute chaos and millions were destitute? And even less likely, finding records specifically about him?
I feel humbled, blessed to be encountering so many wonderful souls...and Fletcher, I'm going to keep on rowing...
What a great new development in your search saga! You told me that Bill's mother was listed by the orphanage as "deserted." Do you have her name and any clues to follow that might lead to "long-lost" cousins or the terms of the relationship between Bill's father and his mother?
If Bill's father "retained guardianship," how did Bill come to leave the orphanage, under whose care, and what happened to Bill's father? Yes, there is more to research there.
Of course, there are some very warm leads to still explore to find out more about your birth mother, Ann, but we can talk about that later, and that topic properly belongs on the Statistically Improbablities thread since this TR is about Bill.
"A coincidence that brightened my day, and got me to thinking that I should start tackling Bill's roots from another direction."
You sound like what I imagine a creative individual like Bill would say in similar straits.
That's a lot of carbon copies to look through, so it's probably microfiched. Think of the number of requests they must take on a daily basis. Finding records gets to be an easier process the more one does it. And it must be a self-rewarding job. I'm so happy you have some progress to report here. I hope your climbing progresses, too, but again, don't expect too much too soon. You'll get there.
You're not rowing alone and we are glad to know you realize it, Odd.
Okay, Boodawg, I'll put all my cards on the table. ;D
Before I knew for sure that Bill was my birth dad, I ordered a copy of his birth certificate to see if I could make any headway in tracing his genealogy. (Yes -- I debated back and forth whether this meant I was going over the edge. lol.) I posted about it in the summer of 2011, I think, when I was trying to figure out whether Bill had ever been in Alaska. The story the nuns told my parents was that Ann had followed Bill up to Alaska, but that Bill wanted nothing to do with her. (Ann's sister said there was no truth to this, that Bill would never have done such a thing.)
Bill's birth certificate revealed that his parents were William Feuerer and Clara Feuerer (nee Gohl). His father was a night watchman at a restaurant and his mother a homemaker. Via ancestry.com I was able to locate ship records for both of his parents, each of whom had come over from Germany in the 1920s to stay briefly with relatives and then find work. William Sr. came through NYC en route to an uncle in Washington, D.C. Clara came over twice, once by herself and a second time with a cousin, through NYC en route to two different uncles at the same address in Brooklyn. William Sr. listed his father (also Wilhelm) as his closest relative back in Germany. Clara listed another relative (possibly suggesting that she was the only surviving member of her family after WWI). At some point, the two both wound up in Chicago proper in the late 1920s, as I located a birth record for a baby girl (stillborn) to them before they were married in 1929. I was able to locate Clara on the 1930 Census, working as a "domestic" for a family in Chicago.
Working backwards, I haven't been able (despite dogged efforts) to locate any of the Feuerer or Gohl relatives in Germany (yet). I found some Census and other limited information for each of their relatives in the U.S., but those trails also went cold. I'll have to revive them at some point.
Until the 1940 Census came out recently, I had no further information on Bill or his family, with the exception of having the luck of finding newspaper articles about a "Billy" Feuerer in Monee, Illinois who was an active Boy Scout, had perfect attendance at school and was home from school one spring and staying with the Mueller family in town.
I found George and Clara Mueller on the 1930 Census in Green Garden/Monee, Illinois and wondered if I had possibly found his guardians. I contacted a couple of people via ancestry.com and wound up locating the granddaughters of one of Mr. Mueller's siblings. One of the daughters had inherited all of the family pictures and promised to look through them to see if she could find a picture of Bill. She told me that the Muellers didn't have any children of their own, and that they had taken in 3 orphan boys, one of whom was Bill. (Am I putting y'all to sleep yet?) I told her that Bill had gone on to become a climber, living in California, etc., but she countered that Bill had married a woman from Germany he had met while in the Service named something like "Gerda" and had lived locally for many years. This didn't make sense, but I suspect that she perhaps had the boys mixed up. (Haven't been able to locate any record of this marriage.)
So when the 1940 Census came out, it took some digging before it was properly indexed, but I was able to locate Bill, his mother and his father, each in a different place. What's neat about the 1940 Census for research purposes is that it not only lists where an individual was living in 1940, but also the county and state in 1935.
In 1935, when Bill would have been a little over 2 years old, all three were listed as living in Cook County, Illinois. But by 1940, the family had been separated. Bill was listed as an orphan living with the Mueller family on their farm in Monee. Bill's father was in Chicago, and described himself as an unemployed carpenter (over 27 weeks, I believe). Clara had sadly been institutionalized at one of the more notorious state insane asylums - Manteno - where she later died. She is buried in the veteran's cemetery on the grounds of the former institution. Bill's father became a naturalized U.S. citizen and served the U.S. during WWII. After that, the trail goes dark, except for a Social Security record that reports his date of death in 1981 in Germany.
When Bill's service records arrived a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty psyched (though I can't make heads or tails of much of the content). Oddly enough, he trashed is left knee (breaking his ankle, too) skiing when he was 21 (I had surgery on my left knee about 10 years ago), and he was also treated for a muscular issue under his right shoulder blade (that just happens to be the location of my most notorious muscle spasm). Wierd stuff! He was also treated for scratches on his hands and a rope burn on the back of his neck...from his forays into climbing. :D He listed the Muellers as his emergency and family contacts in the records, well into his 20s, which is what got me thinking about the circumstances which had brought him to the Muellers again.
In his service records ca. 1953, Bill lists the health history of his mother as "unknown" and that his father had died of "unknown causes". Another record I ran across a couple of months ago was an engagement announcement in the mid-1960s for Bill and a woman he worked with at Douglas. In the announcement, he lists Mrs. George C. Mueller as his mother and the previously deceased Wm. Feuerer as his father.
From the research I've done on Manteno and mental health institutions generally in the 1930s, women were committed for everything from being an "inconvenience" to their families because they had not yet married to full-blown psychosis, so it's hard to guess why Bill's mother was committed. An educated guess would be depression, but who knows? Illinois law prohibits the release of mental health records to anyone except as authorized by the patient or the executor of the patient's estate or an adult sibling or an adult child. It's possible that Bill's mother was listed as having "deserted" because this was the lesser of two evils, the mental health stigma being a heavy one.
At some point I will probably try to obtain access to the records because I believe it's important if it can provide insight into the health history potentially affecting the muppet and me. In order to do so, I would have to prove that I am Bill's daughter, provide a valid justification (i.e., medical necessity) and make a personal appearance to petition an Illinois court for access (which may or may not be granted for records that may or may not exist -- mental health practitioners weren't required to keep patient files until the 80s). In order to prove that I am Bill's daughter, I would probably have to obtain a court order in Anchorage, Alaska, to have Catholic Charities release Ann's file, which is still not a guarantee that a court would recognize this as sufficient proof of paternity. This is about all I have in terms of establishing my connection to him, besides the obvious personality similarities. Grin.
I wish there was some way of finding out what happened to his personal estate, as there might have been some information in his papers, etc. that would help my case, but from what I've gathered, his personal effects simply vanished. (How amazing would it be if there were any family pictures?) Another possibility would be to do a court records search in Anchorage to see if he relinquished his rights legally, but this would require a rather long adventure without much guarantee of success. From what I've learned about men's rights in these situations in the late 60s/early 70s, fathers weren't given a say, if they were even told (and there's no evidence Bill had any knowledge).
I located records for Bill in two orphanages in Chicago: The Chicago Orphan Asylum (now Chicago Child Care Services) and The Uhlich Orphan Home (now UCAN). There is a discrepancy as to the initial date he arrived, but it appears it was either April 14, 1938 or April 20, 1939 (so he would have been either about 5 1/2 or 6 1/2 years old). He was listed as being "placed" with Uhlich on May 26, 1939, and then "discharged" on May 27, 1939 to the care of Mrs. George C. Mueller. On July 1, 1951, he was "dismissed to self". Board was listed as $20/month, but it is unclear whether this was the fee paid by his father (who had retained "guardianship") or this was a fee paid to the Muellers. Bill's records at Uhlich were destroyed in a basement flooding a number of years ago, and I was told it was possible that there might be more information in their records that had been donated to the Chicago History Museum (but no guarantee).
At some point, though his father had retained "guardianship", Bill must have been told that his father had died. In reading about the history of orphanages during the Great Depression, and learning that Bill's father had been out of work for such an extended period of time by 1940, I can only imagine the heartbreaking decision his father had to make in order to ensure that his son had a place to live, enough to eat and clothes on his back. I look at the muppet and can't imagine wrestling with not being able to provide for her (which came drastically close to happening before I was diagnosed with celiac disease), and even less taking her to an orphanage, knowing it was the best decision for her, and having to say good-bye. Nor can I even begin to fathom what it must have been like for a little guy to first lose his mother, and then his father...and to have been old enough to remember.
I'm not religious, but I thank God for the Mueller family.
Mouse, the size of your heart knows no bounds, my friend.
It was quite common both in the US and Canada and sure the rest of the industrial world during the Great Depression for children put in adoption since a lot did not have the means to take care of them.
Also having children out of wedlock was not politically and religiously correct and was looked down on. It wasnít till the early 60ís that people started to accept alcoholism and abortion [still an issue today but for many a sin]. During the Depression and years after people would not talk about their ills and thought it was shameful even in the 40ís and 50ís.
Mental health today still has a long way to go and they are finding better solutions through high-tech machinery and medications so 80 years ago it was in the dark ages since there was really nothing, incorrect diagnosisís and people were tortured or electric current to calm them down. Frontal Lobotomy during its heyday in the 1940s and í50s, was performed on some 40,000 patients in the United States. The procedure became popular because there was no alternative, and because it was seen to alleviate several social crises: overcrowding in psychiatric institutions, and the increasing cost of caring for mentally ill patients. Finally not used since the early Ď70ís.
The other problem during those years and earlier was the last names of people migrating from European nations. US Immigration policies were strict on letting a lot of people with the same last name so when they heard by fellow people not getting in and returning they would change their name or spelling with the letters without an I or E or add an r or something close but spelled differently.
Sent an e-mail with contact so the both of you have fun in search and find.
Hey Clint, I haven't been able to establish that Bill went to Alaska, though it may be possible that he was considering going into DoltCo full-time, which would have freed him up to go there. But that's just one of many possible theories. Bottom line at this point is that I don't have anything linking Bill to Alaska. I wish I had access to his things or even Ann's, but I don't.
On a positive note, and in response to Tobia's comment about his own father, I've already exceeded any hopes I may have had when I was back hunting and pecking around wishing I had some clue as to who my birth dad was. To have actually figured out who he was, and recognized him by the way his close friends described him, even if that was the only discovery I ever made, that would have been more than enough.
To update where I am today (compared to feeling paralyzed when I first wrote the story above), I've had a chance to process a lot of different feelings, circumstances, etc., some from within myself and some from external tangents, and I think I've reached a place where I'm at peace with everything.
If you view objectively where Bill was in 1969 emotional health-wise, and where my birth mom was, just graduating from college with a family that told her in no uncertain terms "don't come home if you get pregnant" and already suffering terribly from Cushing's Disease, neither of them were in a position to raise me. So given the circumstances, what more could you want for your child than to have her NOT witness the sad parts of your lives, and later, of her own doggedness, stubborn will and brain specially adapted to not thinking inside any boxes, "find" you, and at the same time be welcomed in by the largest circle of friends and climbers imaginable?
Can you imagine what it would have been like to have 3 stubborn as all get-out, energizer bunnies with ideas pinging around like super balls constantly and all the piles and piles and piles of stuff in process at any given time, all under the same roof?!!! Egads. Shudder. I've always said that I'm strange enough on my own...I don't need any help with that! ;D
LostinShanghai: Tried the email addresses, but none worked -- not sure yours worked, either. Ping me and let me know? Thanks so much for all of your great insights, here on the forum and via PM.
It's been a while...I've been balancing project work with family time and still managing to do a bit of genealogical research here and there. At times it has felt as if just when I was ready to throw in the towel, you gave me a nudge.
Today I received my first offer after job hunting for seven years, which was cause for elation to be sure. But within an hour or so, something truly magical transpired...as I was working and at the same time debating back and forth whether to move back to No. Virginia to take the job, a Facebook icon appeared on my phone.
I checked my updates...and time stood still. And I just stared at my phone in disbelief. And stared some more, as my brain caught up with processing the picture before me. Last September, in a moment of courage, I ran a search for folks with your last name in the town where your father was born -- Altschweier, Germany. For some reason, one of the names stood out to me, so I ran a quick search on FB. There he was. Did I have the courage to write to him?
I zipped off an invitation before I realized that I couldn't send along an explanation as to why this perfect stranger was contacting him from across the pond. Horrifically embarrassed, I posted to my timeline with an explanation and a couple of pictures, hoping he might see the post and not brush me off as some lunatic from left field. But as time wore on, I figured that that was what had probably happened. I was thereafter too shy to write to anyone else.
Then the icon appeared on my phone this very afternoon. He had accepted my friend request. I reposted my original post to my timeline, and miracle of all miracles, he saw it, and began posting comments and questions. He quickly established that his grandfather and my grandfather (your dad, from whom you were so sadly separated due to circumstances beyond each of your control during the Great Depression) were brothers. He met your father at a family funeral. Your dad had 5 siblings!!!
We switched over to messaging, and he welcomed me to the family...it was everything I could do not to burst into tears sitting in a room full of 30 people. After so many hundreds of hours and so many days of searching...I found your...I mean OUR family. And we were warmly welcomed. I was able to find them for you, and to close the circle...they will know you now. And I hope that through me and the muppet, you will know them, too.
You are whole again...something I've wanted desperately to give to you since I learned about how I came to be, and how you came not to be.
With love, grace and unbounded appreciation for the soul you have shared with me,
About a month ago, I started feeling stressed out of the blue. It's been constant since then, despite everything I've done to try to shake it. I've felt trapped and cornered...unable to escape, but escape WHAT?
I didn't know why until I happened upon this thread, searching for just the right place to share a story of connection and generosity with you. Somehow, despite consciously being so grateful for everything that has transpired since discovering you and Ann, somewhere in my subconscious, my feelings about Christmas time have changed. At least now I know the source of my unease and can begin working to let it go.
What I wanted to tell you is that despite our being separated by space and time, your friends -- my angels, are looking after me and I continue to be blown away by their amazing efforts to keep me connected and their overwhelming generosity.
A perfect nut, for a nut! :D
The shiniest, most perfect #5 Trunut just arrived -- all the way from Canada. When I gently pulled it out of its wrapper and saw your signature on the tag that you likely attached to the Trunut yourself, I was completely overcome with emotions I can't begin to describe. Magic. A brief moment, suspended in time, when the void disappears and I am filled with unbounded wonder, joy and gratitude.
Wayne has been an incredible source of strength for me on this journey, and I treasure his presence and friendship deeply. That this beautiful piece of protection made with your hands was given to me by Wayne...well, I just can't seem to find the right words.
Tonight I will tuck it in my pillowcase to remind me to be strong, and to remind me that I am surrounded by countless angels, and to remind me that there is joy in Christmas, and to remind me that I am indeed incredibly fortunate.
Thank YOU so much, LilaBiene, for including Lisa, me, and other climbers here, in your journey. And thank you for the DoltChock that you recently sent us which now hangs in a place of honor in our house during this Christmas Season, an ornament that connects us to you and your present family as well as to Bill, Ann, and your family of climbers who have also adopted you as one of our own!
<3 I realize that I've been buried in work and raising a 6-going-on-15-year-old and not very good about keeping in touch or posting to ST, and for that I am so very sorry -- I'm trying so hard to get organized...it's an ongoing battle that my creative and curious mind just doesn't want to lose. Nevertheless, I will do better one paper pile (of ideas, and notes, and thoughts, and trails, and and and) at a time. I keep depriving myself of getting outdoors to roam free as a carrot to getting all of the "home" stuff done, but it's clearly not working! I'm desperate to go for a good, long hike, or better, to climb.
Thank you for all of your love and support, which mean the world to me, especially right now. Getting home after a hard, frustrating 12-hour day and even longer week, reading your posts made my heart feel so happy...thank you.
It dawned on me as I started writing this post that the other thing that happened about a month ago was that I finally got up the courage to order Bill's mom's death certificate from the state of Illinois. I suspect that this has been subconsciously unsettling, too.
I just went back to take a closer look at the certificate, and realized that some of the information doesn't add up properly, but I suppose that's not all that unusual. In looking at the certificate again, I noticed for the first time that the doctor whose care Klara was under noted that she became his patient on the 16th of December 1938. This would have been right in the middle of the two dates I have for when Bill was documented by one of the orphanages. Perhaps this could be why Christmastime was so difficult for him...he lost his mom and became separated from his dad...and he was such a little guy at the time.
This is difficult to write, but to keep things honest, the death certificate shook me up pretty good, so I tucked it away after it arrived, until tonight. Denial can be a beautiful thing, unless your subconscious takes issue with it! According to the certificate, Klara passed away at the age of 46 or 47 due to hypertension 3 months after diagnosis. I'll be 46 in February. I'd be lying if I said that learning this hasn't troubled me -- though I know that there are any number of factors that could have contributed to her condition, including the experimental treatments that were routinely inflicted on patients at Manteno.
But now having consciously admitted to myself that I am troubled by it, at least I can take some proactive steps in the right direction, namely, to undergo further testing to try to confirm one of the two genetic conditions I'm thought to have (or better yet, to exclude them both!). Better to confront your fears, than to live in fear of them. ")
Again, thank you for all of the love and support. It helps me more than any of you will ever know.
Thanks for doing this. I'm a single dad to a six year old. The economic depression in constuction has left me raw and very runout. I can only find one truth in this world and that is the total love that I have for my son. My biggest fear is that he would ever think that I didn't love him or want him. I struggle for every minute that I can spend with him.
I am easy to judge. I'm broken in many ways. If I could only preserve the joy that my son has when we are together, then he could always remember the total love that we share.
I am easy to judge. I'm broken in many ways. If I could only preserve the joy that my son has when we are together, then he could always remember the total love that we share.
Brook, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings . . . we are walking the same path in many ways. (There's another TR I wrote a couple of years ago called something like 'Brandon's post on fear' -- I was affected employment-wise both by the technology recession and health issues -- so I empathize greatly with what you wrote.)
You may have already seen this video. 'You want to give them the best. And the best is you.' It makes me cry no matter how many times I watch it -- and I try to remember that when the muppet asks me to build legos together when there's laundry, tidying up, work work to do...time spent "present" is the greatest gift we can give.
Sending you a big virtual hug, and all the strength and hope and courage I can muster to add to your arsenal.
I am so grateful that through this forum so many of us are able to share and connect in deeply meaningful ways. Not one of us is alone. Not one.
P.S. Thanks for sharing the picture of your son -- he's beautiful and you can see how loved he is in his eyes -- how fun would it be to get a pack of mini-ST'ers together at FaceLift?!! :D
Wow! This is amazing. But..... I'm just a little slow. Can you tell me, did you come to Supertopo after you discovered who your Dad was and that he was a famous climber or were you here with us, coincidently as a climber and then discovered this avalanche of stunning finds? I have noticed your contributions to this site for quite awhile I think.
It was actually a complete accident that I stumbled upon ST and the Dolt Stories thread back in the summer of 2011, I think. I had some non-identifying information from Catholic Charities in Anchorage and had been putting together searches for months using the various descriptions of my birth dad and coming up with nothing, which was completely expected. Then one day, after I had pretty much accepted that I would never know who he was, I happened to add "UCLA" to the search terms, which is where my birth mom went to undergrad.
To my great surprise, up popped the Dolt Stories thread (thanks to Dave Evans for posting that his parents knew Dolt though the UCLA Mountaineers!!!). I started reading and knew almost immediately that I had "found" my birth dad, because there was NO WAY that that there was anyone else on the planet as strange as me in so many ways. (Plus, his nickname was "Dolt" and mine has always been "Odd". Grin.)
My family thought I was nuts and convinced me that I had completely taken leave of my senses -- I mean, out of the billions of people on the Internet, how could I have even thought I might have found my birth dad?! So I posted up a rather innocuous inquiry in July of that year, I think, just asking if anyone knew whether Dolt had any connection to Alaska.
Then after a while, I started to believe my family was probably right. (Though deep inside, I was 99% certain...)
It wasn't until March the following year when I discovered that my birth mom had passed away that I was able to persuade Catholic Charities to check my file to see if my hunch was correct. If I provided a name, they were willing to give me a thumbs up or thumbs down (i.e., without having to get a court order to open my closed adoption file).
The social worker confirmed in a matter of minutes that I had indeed figured out who my birth dad was -- I was FLOORED.
It was BooDawg that convinced me to post the original story about finding my birth parents (he is one of only two people that I know of that knew both of them), and through that thread I was encouraged to start climbing. Best advice I think I've ever received. :D (Both to post the original story, because it's helped folks heal, and to get out on some real rock, because I absolutely love it. Read: Kinesthetic adrenaline junkie.)
I remember the Dolt thread but I'll have to go back and re-read. But did you already have the name Dolt or Feurerer to go by? I'm still a little confused, sorry but now you've got me so intrigued. Surely it wasn't just a description of someone that sounded like you had his traits?
My oldest daughter found out about me when she was nine years old, living all the time here in our relatively small town. I had only heard rumors through the years and they were very vague. I didn't really have the maturity, the courage or really even the right to intrude and inquire from a family I did not know. It was she, through her grandmother who sought me out and today we're very close and I have two grandkids through that very special relationship.
Still don't understand the basics or the sequence of events to your fascinating search.
Bill's mother, Emma "Klara" Gohl, at her confirmation in 1919 (about 14 years old) in Weidach, Germany
As so often seems to happen on this journey, whenever something brings me low, I turn around and it's as if some kind of magic happens...
A month or two ago, doing some random research on Bill's mother's family, I came across some genealogy books covering the small town where she was from in Germany. There was also a book of historical photographs, so I ordered both books. The genealogy book turned out to be another dead end, at least so far, but I figured it would be neat to see pictures of the town where his mom grew up before coming to the U.S. in the mid-1920s.
Never in a million years did I ever expect to find a picture of his mom in the book -- it's been a couple of days, but I'm still in disbelief. Bill has so many of her features -- my mom told me earlier this evening that she sees me in her clearly, too.
And what a wonderful turn just before Christmas. Feeling blessed.
hey there say, dear lilabiene... oh my! i can hardly believe, that after all this time, of reading your wonderful story, and sharing so much, and learning more about all the family shares, that you've done:
THAT i MISSED THIS trip report share...
oh my, :O
so very sorry i have not chipped in, and share a great:
wow!!!! so very happy for you!!!!
(so here it is) oh my...
i know, you know, i sure WOULD have, if i had seen, this, though...
happy sweet christmas, i know you got my card by now...
sending more love, to you and muppet, yet again!!!!
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