For the past several days, my father and I, have been busy looking for my mother. To put it mildly, It has been a comedy of errors. To put it roughly, it has been a circuitous rat race of epic and ridiculous proportion. Every single pathway we’ve attempted to explore has led us to a dead end. Many, many dead ends. The ends are so dead and so numerous, I’m beginning to wonder if she ever did exist.
I sometimes joke when asked about my parents, “Oh, we know who the father is, but it’s the mother we aren’t sure about… Could be anybody, I guess?” As we conduct this search, that joke is becoming either more funny, or less funny. I’m not entirely certain which at this point.
We’ve tried multiple iterations of her name. Which she’s had quite a few of them, not counting her birth name. She was adopted as an infant in approximately 1943. Since that time, she has had at least five name changes.
We’ve tried multiple addresses, at least 12 of them just in the last 10 years. We’ve called all of the telephone numbers associated with her, any relatives we found, and any of their relatives as well.
Okay this shouldn’t be so hard. All associates that she has had, are by marriage. I have no brothers, or sisters. She has no brothers, or sisters. My father has no brothers, or sisters. Both of my grandmothers had no brothers, or sisters. Simple yes? No… not at all. The lack of blood relatives has made this infuriating, yet fascinatingly difficult.
Of the many associates of previous marriages we tried, not one single person had a valid working telephone number. I could understand a few, but every single number assigned and attributed to her, or an associate of hers? That’s over 20 people, with multiple numbers for some. It defies logic and reason.
But we did not stop at phone numbers. We tried her email addresses as well as her physical addresses, all of them in the past 20 years. Not one yields a person resembling my mother, her whereabouts, or any shred of evidence that she ever lived at all.
In the past 45 years, she’s had over 20 addresses. In the past 20 years, she’s moved from one end of the country to the other, more than once. In those 10 most recent years, she has moved among states and cities at least 5 times, stopping along the way from California to Arizona, to Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Keeping in mind, all of those addresses had relatives associated with them as well.
We got very, very close when we found a marriage license that named her and her last husband. There was a good deal of information about him and his family. We felt encouraged.
But, we also found his obituary. At least finding this sad notice, led us to more of his family members. But, again not one physical address, phone number, or email address was valid. Not valid for her, or any of the relatives of her husband. Of the eleven numbers we were able to find for his relatives, not a single phone number was valid and, or in service.
Wait a second, this is just plain nuts…
I finally asked my father, “Did she ever really exist? Were the two of you spies, like Brangelina in ‘Mr.& Mrs. Smith?’ Because trying to find her has been like chasing a ghost.” I’m beginning to think she is a ghost. A ghost with so many names, phone numbers, physical addresses, and email addresses; the NSA itself couldn’t track her. Yet, there is not one shred of evidence of her on any form of social media? I imagine it’s really not abnormal for a person over 70. However, it’s getting less likely as each day passes, that people over 70 would not belong to some form of social media.
This is not the first time this has happened. As I get close, she moves. If I find a husband, they divorce, or he dies. If I find relatives that could lead to her, they aren’t the right people at all. I’ve done this in: 1988, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2013, and this year. In 1997, a private investigator friend tried to locate her but, had no luck.
My father thinks she is either an evasive, privacy hacking genius, or… (on second thought, I’ll omit the “or” part). Regardless, the chase has bemused and baffled him as well. After he found the obituary, he did sign the poor fellow’s guest book. Apparently after a “funeral service pending” activity that may, or may not have taken place, his relatives seem to have scattered back through the four winds to their mysterious places of origin.
I did manage to locate a possible relative on facebook. The only thing resembling a needle that we could find in the entire enormous and preposterous network of haystacks. Everything matched, their FB friends were relatives whose names we recognized from other records. Those friends ages, physical locations, and names matched as well with other searches and information we had.
It looked promising, so hesitantly, I sent them this pathetic note:
Hi xxxxxx, This may sound unusual, but i’m trying to find my birth mother. She left me with my grandmother when I was 5 and I’ve not seen her in 43 years. I’ve tried to find her, but it’s been difficult and she has proven to be rather elusive, to put it mildly. In doing some research, I was led to you. Her name was Xxxx Xxxxx, then Xxxxx, then Paxton (who is my father), which later became Xxxx, and eventually became Xxxx. The records that I have show her as married to Xxxx X. Xxxx in 2006, but he died (sadly) last year, I’ve come to understand it’s possible that he was your father-in-law. I hope that I’m reaching the right person, please let me know if I’m incorrect. If I’m correct, please pass on my contact information to her. My name is Dean D Paxton, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m here on FB, of course, and my phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. Sorry to bother you if none of this lines up with, uh… reality, I guess. Best wishes, -Dean
The “X’s,” apparently, are protect a person that no one can find.
I scarcely understand my own logic at times. Small wonder that others have the same difficulty.
I suppose that the only thing I neglected, was to use an “@i-am-stalking-u.com” email address and to congratulate them, of course for inheriting a very large sum of money from a very important king in Nigeria. They have understandably, not replied as of the time of this writing.
As all stories, there is still room for, “But wait! There’s more!” As it turns out, I do have some documents with her Social Security number. In fact, as a collector of things that are never to been seen or touched again, I may even have an original Social Security card for her.
Now I’m dumbstruck, I do have those things? I’ve been searching for her, on a off, for years. While I’ve complained and lamented quite loudly that I didn’t have her Social Security Number?
I did all of that. Yes. Antonia doesn’t miss anything. I miss most of the things.
So the next steps are to locate the SSN and try to find her using some of the locator websites. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to have a list of the sites and databases that I’ve used.
If I do find a match that is concrete, after as much validation and verification as I can exercise, I’ll write a letter to her last known physical address. I’ll include some proof for her to determine that I am indeed who I say that I am.
I really want to allow her to “opt out” of contacting me. I would understand if it were entirely too simple and easy to remain a ghost. She has a lot to take in, should she decide to connect with our entire family. I assumed that letter writing, or contacting her through an associate (or relative-in-law) would allow her to simply “opt out.”
Stay tuned. I’ll return with an update to this saga as soon as is possible.