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As we behold, we actively transform the image.
Chapter 20 shares Cathy’s letters to Ruth Ann and Michael as well as the written responses from Ruth Ann. But Chapter 20 begins with Ruth Ann’s letter to me that explains that I have another sister. When I received the packet of letters, I was overcome with emotion. Far from my American family, I was hit by the news that added on another layer to our family memoire. On top of the mountain, as Fall weather brought cold temperatures, falling leaves, and changing colors in the forests where larch trees were starting to turn golden, my heart was again broken open. I especially felt for my newly found sister and my mother, as I integrated the complexity of the unfolding storyline. The golden relational bond that we had forged was secure enough for us to work through the stories about the circumstances of Cathy’s birth as well as bringing Cathy into the family circle. Giving recognition to what Cathy’s birth had meant for my young parents meant looking more deeply into the relational and societal context of our births.
Here is a picture of our reunion, the first summer that we met with Grandma Kay surrounded by her great grandchildren in 1996.
Here is my maternal grandmother, Grandma Kay, surrounded by her grandchildren. I finally joined the clan, much later!
Here is my birth parents’, Ruth Ann and Michael’s, wedding picture that Grandma Kay included in the photo album that she made for me.
The pictures in my new family album were both the pictures that represented the life that I had not shared with my birth family as well as our reunion photos caught on film and etched into my heart. My life trajectory integrated a parallel relational reality. After meeting my birth family, we had many reunion celebrations that brought together the matrix of my many relations. My adopted family, birth family, and close family friends all came together in a reunion performance.
The family album that my maternal birth grandmother, Grandma Kay, had made for me attested to many years of family gatherings that I hadn’t been part of. But our reunion suddenly offered us the chance to add new pictures of togetherness. These pictures and happenings all framed my new becomingness. And though Grandma Kay died a little over a year after our first meeting, she was able to bear witness to our reunion. The Three Fates tapestry is a metaphor for the loom of life that miraculously stitched us all back together. Lachesis, the drawer of lots had chosen reunification, permitting Clotho the spinner to rethread our heartstrings, tugging and pulling us all back together before Atropos ended Grandma Kay’s life.
The triumph of this unique “fate” seemed to be an incredible synchronicity and even a miracle of divine timing. The links to Medjugorje, show the miracles that have taken place at this pilgrimage site, including my Great Uncle Bob’s rosary that turned gold. Though miracles are rare and often contested, the miracle of our reunion is the kernel of this story. Medjugorje is a place of prayer and reconciliation where The Queen of Peace asks us to pray more. I can only wonder if Father Bob, a priest, had prayed for our family’s reconciliation on his pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Though there is no one explanation for our coming together, ultimately Grandma Kay’s prayers were answered, and I was welcomed into the family circle.
The Three Fates
This tapestry that was originally made in the Netherlands from wool and silk in the 16th century is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The three fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, represent Death in this tapestry, as they triumph over the fallen body of Chastity. In mythology the Fates controlled the span of human life; Clotho was the spinner, Lachesis was the drawer of lots, and Atropos represented the inevitable end to life.
This is a fragment from a larger tapestry, from a series based on the poem I Trionfi (The Triumphs), written by the Italian poet Petrach between 1352 and 1374. The poem described a series of allegorical visions.
Tapestry 'The Three Fates' ('The Triumph of Death'), Flemish, early 16th century.