Soon after her mother’s death, Libby finds out she was adopted. She decides to search for her birth parents, but not finding any information through the adoption agency, she decides to sign up for 23andMe in hopes of finding some relatives. After receiving her results, she decides to set out on a road trip in search of answers. In case you haven’t been following along and want to read more, you can find Part One here, and Part Two here.
A Mother’s Gift – Part Three
The butterflies in Libby’s stomach started shortly after loading her overnight bag into her silver Prius and setting off toward the unknown, a town where a group of folks shared her own DNA. Winding her way down I-80 through the rock cuts and the amazing vistas of tree-covered mountain peaks and green valleys, she tried deep breathing and visualization to relax. The breathing helped a little, but visualization was useless. There were so many different scenarios that could play out on her trip, Libby wasn’t even sure what she wanted to happen. Would she find a loving family that would welcome her into its bosom, or would she again be rejected? Would she find the people who shared her DNA?
She exited I-80 and headed south, trying to distract herself by singing along with Lizzo. Passing a sign that said New Bradford – 15 miles, her stomach did a flip flop and she was relieved to spot a sign for a rest area and quickly signaled to exit. No sooner had she pulled into a parking spot then she was out of the car and vomiting into some bushes. Taking a deep breath, Libby headed for the women’s room. She splashed cold water on her face and stared at herself in the mirror. The entire situation seemed surreal, what was she doing seeking relatives she didn’t know. Yet, despite her queasy stomach, she was determined to forge ahead. She felt she needed some answers.
Highway 79 led her directly into the middle of the town. New Bradford was a quaint, tidy burg, complete with a town square and a 1930s tall brick courthouse. Libby noticed a mural in the square with a map of the town, so she pulled over and parked. Looking around at the people on the street for a moment, Libby wondered if any of them were on her list from 23andMe that was folded in her pocket. She hopped out and crossed over to study the large map, although she had no idea what she was looking for. In addition to the charming painted mural, there were paper maps available with the layout of the town, so Libby grabbed one. Feeling droopy from the drive, she decided the first thing to do was to check into her hotel and shower. Heading back to her car, she realized she was hungry and began studying the map for a restaurant. Deep in thought, she stepped out into the street.
Sometime later, Libby woke up feeling thirsty. Then she realized she hurt all over and her head ached. Was that a cast on her arm??? Opening her eyes fully, she realized she was in a hospital room although she had no idea how she had arrived there or even where she was. “You’re awake!” She hadn’t noticed the young woman sitting in the chair beside her bed until she spoke. In jean overalls and hair tied up in a pink bandana, she clearly wasn’t a nurse. Libby managed to croak, “I’m sorry, who are you?”
Libby’s visitor popped up and said “I’m Frankie Easton. Well, Frances, named after my Grandma Frances. The nurses found my name on a paper in your pocket. I should let the nurses know you’re awake!” Frankie went off to find a nurse while Libby tried to fight her way out of the fogginess. The last thing she remembered was looking for a place to have dinner.
The nurse was happy to see Libby awake and talking. She explained to Libby that she had stepped into the street and in front of a car and had been hit. An ambulance had brought her to the hospital. “You didn’t have any identification on you and were unresponsive. The only thing found was a list of names in your pocket and that is why we contacted Frankie.” After assessing her vitals and asking a couple more questions, the nurse went off to update Libby’s chart.
Frankie had stayed in the hallway while the nurse was with Libby, but now she poked her head in and smiled. “I don’t think I know you, but you look very familiar. I’m so happy you’re ok because I’m dying to know why my name was on a list in your pocket. Maybe because my dad’s a newspaper guy, I always want to know the who, what, where, when and why. I don’t think there’s ever been any intrigue in my life, so now I’m very curious.”
“I need to go. I need to find my keys and my purse. Where is my car?” Libby winced with pain as she sat up and swayed as she tried to stand. Frankie caught her and gently eased Libby back into bed. “Let me help. Do you remember where you parked? I can go look for your car and your keys and purse.” Libby remembered pulling over near the town square, but that was it. After determining the type of car and the license plate, Frankie was out the door. On her way, she called her dad. “You are not going to believe what’s going on! I’m in the middle of a mystery.”
Jack Easton took his eyes off the computer screen where he was reviewing tomorrow’s front page and gave his excited daughter his full attention. Frankie filled him in on the details and told him she was heading down to the town square to try and find Libby’s car. He left the newspaper office and was out the door and heading to the square before Frankie hung up.
Libby’s silver Prius, sporting a couple of parking tickets on its windshield, was easy to spot. Frankie was already opening the driver’s side door when her father arrived. There on the front seat, she spotted Libby’s purse, keys and a half full bottle of Fiji water. After a quick exchange with his daughter and despite some misgivings, Jack agreed to drive Libby’s car back to the hospital. Frankie was eager to introduce him to Libby and despite some reservations, his interest was piqued. Why on earth did the mystery woman have his daughter’s name on a list in her pocket?
Libby felt she had barely closed her eyes when Frankie was back with all the verve of a medieval knight returning from a successful quest. If she could have presented Libby’s purse on a lance, she would have. She proudly presented her dad, introducing him as “newspaper editor and father extraordinaire!” For a few moments, the room was filled with chatter about finding Libby’s car and retrieving her possessions, but the conversation quickly died down and all eyes focused on Libby. She knew they were trying not to ask about the list of names that the hospital had found, but awkward curiosity filled the room.
“I guess it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. This is really hard for me, but here goes. My mother passed away on March 28. When I met with her attorney after the funeral, he gave me a letter from her. Turns out I was adopted. I had no idea and was devastated.” At this point, tears started to roll down Libby’s cheeks. “Short version, I signed up for 23andMe looking for anyone who might be related. That’s what brought me to New Bradford. I’m not even sure what I was going to do here but getting hit by a car was not in any plan. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to drag you into my drama.”
Frankie quickly stepped to Libby’s bedside and handed her a tissue. “I’m so sorry about your mother. It must be awful to lose your mom, but I’m also excited that we might share DNA. I’m just really confused on how that could be.”
“I don’t know. All I know is that my birth parents were from Pennsylvania. And here I am in Pennsylvania, not sure what to do next.”
At this point, Jack Easton spoke up. “Libby, what was your mother’s name and where did she live?”
“My mom’s name was Green. Elaine Green. She lived in Chicopee, Massachusetts. That’s where I grew up.”
Frankie stayed close to Libby, quietly trying to wrap her mind around this mystery and to figure out why Libby looked so familiar. But her father had more questions. “Libby, was your mother married? Did she change her name when she married? Do you know her birth name?”
“Yes, my mother was married. My ‘father extraordinaire’ passed away just over five years ago. He was a wonderful man and I miss him every day. My mother’s name before she married my father was McCarthy. She grew up in Pennsylvania about 100 miles from here but lived her entire married life in Massachusetts. I was adopted when they had been married about eight years.”
Jack was still baffled by the situation and asked Libby if he could see the list of DNA matches which had his daughter’s name right at the top. Looking over the list, he became more puzzled. All the names on the list were relatives of his and Frankie’s to one degree or another. “Obviously we are related, we simply need to find out how. I don’t know your mother. Did she have any siblings?”
“There’s my Aunt Beth, but she’s much younger and lives out in California. I hardly know her.”
Jack was very quiet for a moment. “I dated a girl my first year at Penn State whose name was Beth. Beth McCarthy. After a few months, she abruptly broke up with me and left school. I never heard from her again.”
There was silence as the three people in the room absorbed the implications of Jack’s information. Suddenly Frankie blurted, “Are you my sister???”
To be continued…