Posted by: Brenda Kula | March 25, 2008

Letter To My Mother

It is really a simple thing. Children outside playing, their parents nearby. "Mom, watch me on the slide." Or, "Daddy, look at me fly the kite."

It wasn’t the words themselves that mesmerized me as a child. It was the fact that another child yelled "mommy" or "daddy", and someone actually turned around in response.

It was music to my ears, sung in a foreign language.

Here is a letter I stumbled across while cleaning out my garage last week. It is a copy of the letter I wrote to my mother, and gave to a relative to mail to her, years ago.

September 27, 1985

Dear Martha,

I know that Aunt Hazel has been corresponding with you for some time. I ask about you sometimes.

It is hard for me to write this. It is not easy for me to ask you these questions. But I have lived my entire life wondering what happened when I was born.

I have come a long way from the scared child I was years ago. But, though I am now 28 years old, the child in me still asks why.

Thinking about this may be something you do not want to do. It may be painful. But surely you feel that you owe me this much. Just to answer some questions. If I do not know, what do I tell my own daughters?

Please put down on paper what happened at the time of my birth. How and why it happened. I want to know why my parents did not want me. I want to know who I was left with and where I was my first year of life. I want to know if someone paid you for me, and if so, why? I want to know if the police were involved. I want to know everything. Everything you know. I could start searching out the answers myself, but you could make it easier for me by just answering.

Please understand. I need to know. It is very important that I know. I have felt the shadow of this mystery hanging over me all my life. I have asked these questions ever since I was capable of asking, and no one would answer.

If you write me about it, tell me all that happened, I will know that you realized just how much it meant to me. I will know that you cared enough to tell me the truth.


Her response was: It was your father’s idea. Not mine.

My one and only correspondence with the person who gave birth to me was those two sentences. And my father, I never met him or any member of his family.

I can wonder if my mother ever thinks about me. But then how am I any different from the other five children she eventually "lost," one way or another. The only difference is that she never had me except when I lay safely curled inside her before my birth. And the others she had for a period of time.

I doubt she thinks of me often, if she’s alive. Because then she would have to remember that long ago winter day when she handed her baby over to a stranger for money. 

When I hear about families arguing at holidays, or hear someone say their relative did something they can’t forgive them for, I think: Okay, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that. Maybe it’s a good thing.

That is the way I deal with it. I try and look at the glass as half full rather than half empty.

And I go outside and plant seeds, and nurture them. I watch them grow and give back to me for my having tended them. I dig down into the earth and bury my questions that have sat unanswered all these years now. One plant at a time.

You have to find something solid to hang onto. Because you hear the music. But you don’t understand the words behind the melody.



  1. Oh Brenda, I am so sorry. I can’t even imagine your pain. Wow. I am so blessed with the best parents on earth. I’m 55, and still have both parents. As a mother myself, I can’t fathom how your mother could answer your letter the way she did. That is cruel.

    I understand your love of gardening even more now. There is something therapeutic about digging in the dirt. We are never closer to nature than when we have penetrated the shell of the Earth. And God is never closer. May you feel the warmth of His love in the warmth of the soil and the sun on your face. May those deep, deep wounds and scars on your psyche find healing and peace.

    I hope you have a loving husband and family who make up for some of the love you missed as a child. And may you feel the love I am sending your way through cyberspace!



  3. I just found your site from a comment you left on Tina’s from CherryHillCottage. I was curious as to your comment so I looked you up. I am saddened to think another human being especially a mother could be so thoughtless when responding to her child. I can’t imagine the thoughts that have haunted you all these years. I can’t imagine how that woman can look in a mirror…honestly…I know that sounds harsh…but I really hate that someone inflicted so much pain on another human being…not to mention their own child!

    I tell you what…you seem to have a better handle on this than I would…and I think your love of gardening is the best therapy you could receive. To immerse yourself into something so tangible as gardening has to be unbelievably satisfying…a gift from God I would dare say!

    If you would like…you can call me sister…we can make up all sorts of things about how you came about…things we did as children…people that we loved and loved us…crazy relatives, boyfriends, neighbors and even a stinky brother or two thrown in for good measure. Hey, sometimes the imaginary world that I like to call La-La land isn’t such a bad place to visit…lol!!

    You are a strong woman and I look forward to reading more of your blog when time allows.


  4. Brenda, Thank you for sharing today. AND for visiting my blog. I am sorry you feel the pain of unanswered questions. It can be unbearable at times. Has anyone encouraged you to try to contact your mother again? I hope your weather is beautiful and you are getting to enjoy some sun and gardening.

  5. Dear Brenda,
    I am so sorry for your pain. This may sound crazy, but it always works for me – fuzz therapy. Go give each one of your animals a hug & a kiss. They love unconditionally and with whole heart.
    Zeke, Buttercup & Giles are sending you hugs too (lots and lots of them!).

  6. Brenda, I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve suffered. It is so hard for me to imagine how someone could be so callous and uncaring.
    I also suffered emotional pain during my childhood and the very best thing I ever did for myself was to forgive, to fully let go of the past and only focus on the wonderful present. I didn’t want the pain to rob anymore of my happiness, it was bad enough that it happened, I didn’t want to keep reliving it in memories.

    Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person, it is a gift we give to ourselves.

    I hope what I’ve said doesn’t offend you in any way. I say it with tears in my eyes and a heart full of compassion for you.

  7. That is powerful. I would say sad, but so many years have passed, maybe frustration is better. I am sorry you were not given your answers … it would have made more sense for you to know. I would have been furious at a two sentence reply … and not a very satisfying one at that!

    I would say good riddens to them (being angry as I am right now) but I think I know how much it would have meant to you to have a solid story, no matter how painful that truth might have been!
    xoxoxo, Kim
    Flowers sometimes have so much more meaning, gratitude, love than the human race.

  8. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kind words.

  9. Brenda, I too found you through a comment left on another’s post. I can only hope you find the strength to let it go. There are people out there who have no compassion, no sense that they could cause hurt, and no sense of shame for that hurt. They will never(can’t) acknowledge your pain, and you will never be able to make them understand. You are lucky that you didn’t have them in your life. Somewhere, someone nurtured you enough for you to become the beautiful person you are today. Give them thanks and continue to pay it forward with your children.
    I know this was a very emotional post for you, but thank you for sharing it with us. May God grant you peace.

  10. I read this yesterday and just did not know what to say. Life is not often easy, is it? I’ve been keeping you in my prayers.

  11. Brenda,

    I’m so sorry. I think all writes have some story like this. We create beauty out of childhood ashes.~~Dee

  12. Brenda,

    Thank you for your incredibly moving post to my blog about your precious MIL. What an amazing comfort and gift you were in her last hours of life. As I read this post and recognized the lack of mothering comfort you were given, I was all the more moved by the nurturing tenderness you poured into another person’s life. Even as I think of it now, it brings tears to my eyes. The strangest thing in life to me is how such sorrows in our own lives can translate to bringing another person what we never had. You were a daughter to this woman and a friend and she was probably thankful and loved you beyond her ability to even express. Your lying by her side and the words you spoke to her is something, after having read about, I eill never forget!

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