This past late December, I was on my way to work, patiently waiting for my cafe latte at one of my favorite coffeehouses in Burbank, when my cell alerted me to a new email. I noticed from the subject of the email that it was a new comment on my blog that needed “approval.” As I opened the email and began to read, tears welled up in my eyes and my heart began to pound at the words I saw typed out across the screen from a complete stranger.
“Hi, I was a friend of your mother’s when your brother was born. We were co-workers and neighbors. I had moved and lost track of her and I ran across this blog in my search for her. I cried when I read she had passed away. I loved her very much. She was a beautiful person inside and out. My relationship with her was different then with her other friends – we shared a lot. I knew your dad too. Rick. My ex-husband Chuck worked with him. If you feel like it, could you please let me know how she passed away? I will keep you and your family in my prayers for the loss of your Mom.”
“Here’s your latte,” The attractive barista handed me a perfectly concocted caffeinated beverage in a signature, recyclable cardboard cup. I was instantly brought back to my current surroundings. I grabbed a lid and quickly made my way to my car where I reread the above message in awe. My words had not only reached the other side of the world but someone who once knew my mother before I was even born, when I was merely a desired gender of someone’s imagination.
Her name is Joan and she lived next door to my parents in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Over the last few weeks of corresponding with her, she has shared stories about my mother that make me smile, make me laugh and some that make me cry. For example, after my mama gave birth to my brother, she came home from the hospital in blue jeans. I jovially laughed out loud because that sounds exactly like my mama – she lived in her blue jeans and after her passing, there were drawers full of denim that were inevitably donated because no one else was 5 foot 9 inches and thin as a rail in my family!
Just a few short days shy of Christmas Day 2013, I had begun to feel the holiday blues settling in upon my heart, a heart that is void of her mother’s physical presence. I awoke that morning searching for the motivation to get my ass out of bed and I found it in an email from Joan. I had recently asked her what prompted her to begin her search for my mama and her response prompted me to state something that many usually do not hear me state, which is “God works in mysterious ways.”
Here was the email:
…There was a little 1st grader that came to my room crying and I really didn’t know her too well – seen her a couple of times and thought she was cute. Well I said, “What’s wrong little one?” She said she was missing her Mom. I asked why and she said, “She went to see Jesus and I wanted to talk to her about a boy being mean to me.” I told her if she wanted to that I would listen to her. She said, “Ok.” Well I asked her what her name was and she said, “Coco.” Come to find out it was short for Colleen. I told her I was Mrs. Simpson and was happy she came in to visit. She looked around and said, “I just picked the first door I came to and it was yours.” We talked and talked and she told me her Mom died in a car wreck and that her Dad was in jail and she was living with Nana. Anyway by the time she left my office with a hug and a candy cane I was sitting there thinking of her and then I thought she had your Mom’s eyes and the shape of her face and her name. I know sounds creepy but it got me thinking about your Mom. So the rest of the day on and off of seeing kids I started researching to find my old friend, Colleen Dellinger. I knew she was married to Rick, I knew she had two children: Jason, and of course, Lindsay Taylor. After several websites I saw the picture of your Mother with you at Easter looking for eggs. I thought, “That’s her – I found her.” Then the rest unfolded and the tears came as I knew I was too late, she was gone.
Joan and I continue to communicate back and forth and I am grateful for this newfound friendship. I am grateful to unravel the pieces of a time in my mother’s life, before I knew her, from her dear friend’s perspective and I am humbled at the ability to fill in the blanks for Joan during the years that her and my mother unfortunately lost touch.
My mother once told Joan, when my brother was an infant, “If I ever have another baby, I want it to be a girl” to which Joan asked what she would name her and my mother’s response was, “LTD – Lindsay Taylor Dellinger.”
Joan wrote in an email to me on December 19th, 2013, “She loved you and thought of you before you were ever born.” Years ago, I recall asking my mother where my name came from. She said she gave me my name because of the initials meaning, “limited” for “limited edition” meaning “only one.” God, I miss her every single second.