As some of you may be aware, for much of my life, I have been trying to locate my mother. Note, that I do not refer to her as a “birth mother” as I was not technically adopted by someone else, though I have had many, many honorary mothers who readily volunteered for the role and continue to manifest
A bit of backstory
My mother left me behind in Flint, MI in late spring of 1973. I lived with my grandmother and great-grandmother (on my father’s side) until I was just past 17 years old. I moved into my own house at that time, in 1984. I had not heard from her, seen her, or heard word of her and her whereabouts since that day.
She was often spoken of by my grandmother and great-grandmother, sometimes disparagingly. Other times sympathetically. They were judgmental people who lived in a very, very small and rarified environment. Their entire world consisted of their own limited experience, the very small group of relatives and friends they had, and little else consisted of their world view. Most importantly, they quite often, as many do, used other people’s perceived characteristics, words, and deeds to invalidate them while validating themselves. Needless to say, neither of my parents, myself, or anyone for that matter, scored well on that set of measurements.
Fast forward a bit
Several times over the years, I made efforts to locate her. In fact, the reason I am so accessible and easily located online largely is due to her. I had always hoped she, or her potential and subsequent relatives would try and locate me. I wanted to be sure I was easy to find. For the best part of 25 years, I have used my real name and made sure that even my name resolved to a domain for ease of access. I will likely revisit that notion going forward. Regardless, despite all efforts she was a virtual ghost in nearly all systems and directories.
Her name yielded no census records, no court records, and no tangible publicly available information. Paid people search services presented only impostors and close matches to her. At one point, a friend who is a bail bondsman and private investigator, tried to locate her and found virtually nothing. He stated that without a social security number, she would likely not be found. Ironically, in all of the documents, forms, licenses, and legal material I have saved, I did have her social security number, but overlooked it many times.
In 2016, I thought that I finally had some luck in finding her. It seemed that her present husband had died. Thus, his death created a record and left a tangible match for her name as “Carol Janice Aird” under her current married name. My father resolved to become involved, mostly at the request of his granddaughter, and wrote to her and her copied his letters to her husband’s named relatives at the address that we were able to determine was her likely residence. But, we received no reply.
By this time, I’d resigned myself to leave her at peace and to stop trying to find her. Even when asked by her grandchildren. My logic was, at that time, whatever her reasons for remaining so steadfast in not contacting me, in any way, shape, or form, she stuck to them strictly and did not deviate. I’d often rationalized that it was easier to have a relationship with her than it was my father, whom I maintained a strained and sporadic relationship with for my entire life.
When my father died on May 28, 2021, I was searching our email correspondence to find some potential cousins, nieces, and nephews on his father’s side of the family. Mostly to let them know he had died. He had been in contact with some of those people scattered about Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and elsewhere. Some of the emails that we had exchanged about her resurfaced. I saw her full and newest married name and I decided to try and search for her again. This is when I discovered that after searching for nearly 40 years, largely without a trace, I have finally located my mother.
The top search result for her name was her obituary from the funeral home reads as follows:
Carol Janice Aird, 78, of Columbus, died at 7:00am, January 4, 2021, at her residence.
Carol was born September 10, 1942 in Washington State, the daughter of Howard Ross Osborn and Virginia Cole Osborn. She married Dennis William Aird in 2006 while living in LaPorte, Indiana. He passed away in 2014, after returning to Indiana to be with family.
Though Carol’s early life is vague her stories would captivate anyone in the audience. She spoke of being a civilian in France and serving troops through the USO. Later in life Carol enjoyed working in sales for LeCreuset Stoneware Company. Carol was also a very talented artist. She loved animals, especially dogs and horses.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband.
No services are planned.
Instantly, I knew that this was indeed my mother. The photo in the obituary was not only unmistakably her, it was the first time I had laid eyes on her for 48 years.
Here’s the email that I sent to my father after he died. I realize it seems kind of odd, but it is well within the spirit of our established communications model:
Date: Mon, 31 May 2021 03:48:24 -0400
Subject: Carol Osborn Aird
From: Dean Paxton
To: David Paxton
So this closes everything between all of us:
Here is Carol Janice (Brown, Paxton, Hodge, and Aird) Osborn’s obituary. She beat you to it by nearly six months.
I loved you and will miss you greatly.