It's Mother's Day, and I was going to write about my mother....but this isn't about her.
It isn't about my "volunteer" mom, my mother-in-law or any of my grandmothers. It's about the hero who wasn't a part of our family. The woman whose courage and strength leave me in awe. She is my hero, and I don't even know her name.
My father was adopted. He was the child of a romantic fling between a young 20-something woman and a saxophone player at the end of World War II. She thought they were getting married and was in love. He knew they weren't because his pregnant wife and large family were at home waiting for him.
When my birth-grandmother (BG) discovered that she was pregnant, she traveled to her sweetheart's hometown where she discovered that the woman she assumed was his landlady was his wife. When she told his wife that she was expecting my dad, his wife didn't go crazy. She didn't sob, scream or cry. She calmly and gently brought my birth-grandmother into her own home and helped her to understand what was going on and figure out what to do.
She must have been devastated at her husband's betrayal, but she instead focused on the woman in her kitchen who so desperately needed help. When my BG finally made up her mind to go to a convent home for unwed mothers and place my father for adoption, it was his wife who drove her, paid all her expenses, and occasionally visited her so that she was not alone.
My family talks about BG, who we were privileged to meet before she died, but no one discusses the other hero in all of this mess. We never talk about the wife who was deceived, betrayed and humiliated and yet found the strength and grace to find kindness, compassion, and charity for "the other woman."
While I am grateful for all the wonderful mothers in my life, in all the roles they fulfill. This morning I said a prayer of thanksgiving for the nameless woman whose Christian love made all of this possible. Without her, who knows where we would be.