A week ago, my sister Marie got married to her soulmate Eddie and I was so proud to see her wearing the wedding dress I had made for her. It’s strange to say my sister got married because I grew up as an only child, but there you go. Life delivers surprises everyday.
I grew up knowing I was adopted, it was a bedtime story from when I was a little boy; I was told that while my friends all came from their mummy’s tummies, I was different and had been picked in a baby shop, my parents had looked around and chose me. Therefore I was special and grew up thinking adoption was pretty much the coolest thing in the world. And feeling extra special of course. When I was 18, I told my parents I was gay. Actually, I verbally vomited this information up on a Saturday morning, having grown tired of holding it inside for the previous 10 years. After the tears and the hugs and unquestionable family devotion, my mother decided that, as I had shared my secret, she would share her’s with me. I grew up thinking she had never had children but, on that Saturday, amid empty boxes of kleenex, she told me that she had had a baby girl before she was married, in rural Dublin in the 1960’s. More tears ensured, of course. The father didn’t want to stick around and Mum decided that the best gift she could give her baby daughter was to give her up for adoption in the hope that another family would give her the life that she could not provide at the time. That was my mum’s sacrifice and she carried it with her everyday. She still does. Years later, she met and married my father and they tried to have kids but, it turned out, my father wasn’t able to father children and so the circle turned and the beginning met the end and they adopted me.
Mother and Son
Just over 10 years ago, my sister came looking for her natural mother and another circle completed its turn. Unfortunately Marie lost her own mother just months before finding Mum. Life takes away and gives back to those who are fortunate. Mum and Marie are peas in a pod. Their not only share blood, but mannerisms, laughter, the same sense of style, the same hand movements which you think are learned from your everyday environment but it turns out not to be the case. Mum also has two gorgeous Grandchildren so I’ve been let off the hook for not providing her with any and I got two nieces into the bargain.
Marie’s daughters/bridesmaids, Mum’s grandchildren and my nieces
This picture below is Mum and her daughter last Saturday in Dublin on the morning of the wedding in Marie’s bedroom. Mother and daughter united again and my Mum got to walk down the aisle with her daughter on her wedding day with Marie’s adopted Dad on the other side.
If you look out the window, the building opposite is a nuns convent, Temple Hill. That’s where I started my life. I told you, Life always delivers surprises.
My sister asked me to speak at the wedding ceremony. These are the words I wrote for my sister Marie and her new Husband Eddie, with love…
He gives her his hand
not to take hers
but to place his heart in her hold
She gives him her heart
not because she doesn’t need it
but to let him know she needs him more
He stands beside her
not to sink in her shadow
but to rise higher together
She kisses his lips
not to take his breath
but to share his soul
He gives her his hand
she gives him her heart
they share their souls.
These are their best offerings
they are not money
they are not material
can never hold your hand
can never warm your heart
the way Love can…
This is how unions are made…
This is how families grow…
All Words and Pictures by Damien B. Donnelly