Karla: This is not our final blog, but I wanted to share this story.
The Augustus Bove House was a great B&B: beautiful old house/hotel built in the 1850’s with period decor; delicious, full breakfast and coffee available 24/7; quintessential Maine setting on a tree lined lake(or pond as it is known down east) and comfortable king size bed. We loved the little berg of Naples, too. However, Arlene the innkeeper was the true gem. She spoke with a typical New England accent and had a dry, slightly cynical sense of humor. When she described our room’s amenities and handed us the TV remote control, we explained that we had not really been watching any TV on our trip. Her eyes twinkled but her look was completely deadpan as she looked away and said,”Well then, you’ll just love the news.” Scott and I burst out laughing but she never cracked a smile – her tone had said it all. Recognizing a kindred political soul, we talked a short while then finally closed our door to, “See you in the morning.” It turned out the three of us were early risers and Arlene was very efficient at getting our breakfast on the table. Again, we shared some repartee as plates of eggs, potatoes, bacon, fruit, toast and jam were placed in front of us. She then proceded to pull out the chair across the table and sat down, as if to join us in our meal, only it was clear she wanted only to talk. I started with the usual, “How long have you been doing this?” and Arlene took it from there. She and her husband had come to Naples on their honeymoon, fell in love with the area and eventually made it their home. They both enjoyed the B&B business, but Arlene really loved it. We talked about her family, changes that had taken place over the 28 years they had lived there and quirky events that had occurred. She was a good story teller and had quite a history to tell. We were enthralled; even though we had decided on an early start, we could not leave the table. Each story became a little more personal, had a little more feeling to it. She was peeling away the more superficial layers of her experience, going to the core.
Finally, she came to the heart of her history. At age nine and a half, she had been adopted out of the only family she had ever known and taken to live with two strange people. She had had no idea why, it was just something that she had had to accept without truly understanding the explanation. I could tell that there had been deep pain for her over this as her face softened into that of a bewildered little girl for just a moment. She hesitated as her words dwindled away and I felt tears prickling the corners of my eyes. Her new parents loved her and treated her well. Really no problems there, but Arlene still wondered why the people who started raising her did not just adopt her, if that was what was necessary?
Time passed, she grew up, married, had a family, divorced, remarried and made her home at the B&B. Naples held a strong attraction for her. She didn’t know why but that was where she anchored herself for 28 years. One day a couple came in to stay at the B&B and in true Arlene fashion, they got to talking. Oh, they had both lived in the same town at the time she was a little girl. More talking. Oh, what street did Arlene live on? They knew that street. What happened when you were nine? What was your first father’s name? Oh, my god, he is my brother, I am your uncle! No, your mother passed away some years ago, but your father, although ill, is still alive and living in Arizona…
It was a joyful reunion. Although frail, her father was able to answer all the questions Arlene had held in her heart for so many years. Her first parents had been foster parents and had loved her dearly. But, her mother was in the country illegally. There was no way they could have gone through the adoption proceedings because her mother’s status would have come to light and she would have been deported. The only way was to make a clean break with Arlene and give her a real life with American parents. There could be no contact between Arlene and her first parents. But, they couldn’t bear not seeing her. Often they would park near Arlene’s new home in hopes that she would come out to play and they would get a glimpse of her. They watched her from afar for years, until she grew up and moved away. Yes, she was loved.
After Arlene returned to Maine, her first father agreed to be moved to a convalescent hospital. He died three weeks later. Arlene was convinced that he had held on in his own home because he was waiting for her. “Once he had seen me, he could let go. You see he was waiting there for me to find him. And that’s why I have stayed in Naples, so that my uncle could find me and then connect me with my father. It has all come full circle now. Everything is OK. ”
I left late that morning, but I left a richer person. For some reason it gave me extreme joy to hear how it all turned out for Arlene.