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Spirit Stories: In Your Own Words

The Spirit of Love

By: Anne-Marie Hughes

When I began my search for my roots nothing could have prepared me for what and whom I would find. And now, as I write this, my mother is looking over my shoulder. She is my inspiration, my guide. My mother is dead. She died in 1971. She and I met just once.

The year is 1950. In a hospital ward a woman is in the final stages of labor. One last push and the baby slides into the world. With a mop of jet-black hair, she is beautiful. Mother and baby look into each other's eyes as they connect for the last time. At that moment the Nuns of the Holy Order silently approach, robes rustling, they reach for the baby. The mother struggles but they are too strong for her and they prize the small bundle from the safety of her mother's arms. Her whole body is racked with sobs as her baby is taken away. Minutes after their first meeting mother and baby are alone and bereft of each other. They will never see each other again.

The Spirit of Love is a true story. It is my search for my birth mother. When I started this search way back in the 70's, I was totally unprepared for the events that were to unfold… events that were to change my life forever. It took me nearly thirty years, a marriage, a divorce and two children to want to find my roots. My need to know who I was and where I had come from suddenly became overpoweringly strong. The day that I turned the TV on just in time to hear that a new law had just been passed, allowing all adopted children to trace their natural parents, was not just a coincidence, but the beginnings of a psychic link. It was a link that would span decades.

During these years and after going down many blind alleys I suddenly had a major breakthrough. I received news that was both devastating and stunning. The first that my mother had died an untimely death and the second that she had given birth to another child, a baby boy. My brother! I can still hear the words of the doctor who broke the news. "My dear, " he began " you have to know also that your mother gave birth to another baby. She called him Nicholas and he, too was adopted but was taken to America." Here it seemed was another mountain to climb another impossible task. What I didn't know then was that my mother had her own very definite plans for me. She was working her magic and guiding me gently but firmly in the right direction. However it was to take another ten years before she felt that I was ready for the biggest step yet.

During these years Marie (my mother) began to make her presence felt. More and more she nudged me into noticing her. I felt very close and knew she was with me. It was during this time that I began a correspondence with my uncle whom I discovered was living in France with his French wife and four children. A retired gynecologist, my uncle John struggled with his memories of his sister and in doing so he managed to build a picture of my mother. She was an actress and model. Beautiful but never married. She left the shores of Britain for a better life in America with memories of lost babies and unhappy love affairs. She had never recovered and died of ovarian cancer. Her grief, which had been locked away for so many years finally manifested in that part of her body where the seeds of those lives had begun.

These letters were drip fed over the years and never one single mention of Nicholas. And then one day he just stopped writing and nothing I could do was going to make him start. So I resigned myself to the fact that this was the end of the line. The doors had gently closed and I bowed out gracefully. Then one morning during the summer of 1998 I awoke with a feeling of great clarity and purpose. Once again I felt my mother's presence and this time the message was crystal clear. "Anne-Marie you have to find your brother. Now is the time." But how? My question hung in the air. So I handed myself over completely to Marie's divine guidance. After all how on earth could I find a boy called Nicholas who lived in one of the biggest countries in the world? I called in extra help. She came in the form of Angela Walker, a modern day Madame Arcarti. And she and Marie clicked. When I produced a photo of my mother. Angie burst into tears. "It's not me darling it's your mother, she is overwhelmed with love for you and so happy to have this chance to speak." What followed was a magical time, a time of intense emotion. The message however was clear. "You have to go to France to see your uncle, he has some of the answers."

"I will be with you every step of the way. I love you my darling." Within days my husband and I were on our way to Toulouse. We were going quite literally on a wing and a prayer. "Marie," I prayed, "you had better be right!" Having landed in Toulouse we made our way through the French countryside and finally came to my Uncle John's house. With my heart in my mouth I waited and as the door finally opened there he was. My uncle, my flesh and blood. We embraced and it felt so right, so natural. "Oh I can see my sister," he says looking bright eyed at me. I think to myself, this is what all the years of waiting have been for. I silently offer a prayer to God and Marie Connolly. So far it is just as she said.

To cut a long story short… It happened I left France with the name of the adoption agency where my brother had been adopted. I found out that he went, aged just eighteen months old on a flight to New York. He went in the care of an air hostess. There his adoptive parents Douglas and Veronica collected him. I found this much out from Sister Teresa the social worker assigned to my case. I discovered that Nicholas was or had been living in Miami, Florida. Sister Teresa told me each time I made frantic inquiring phone calls that of course we would find him. "You'll see my dear, don't worry, be patient." And then it happened. The phone call I had been waiting for all my life. "Hello Anne-Marie? It's Sister Teresa. I've found Nicholas, I've found your brother." What followed next was a dream. I cried, my husband cried I thanked Sister Teresa a million times and finally when I put the phone down, I was clutching Nicholas's telephone number in Florida, I smiled then and I didn't stop smiling even in my sleep.

The next day I made the call. An American voice answered. "Hello" I said, "is this Nicholas? A pause...and then I said the immortal words, "This is Anne-Marie, this is your sister." On 24th October 1999, Nicholas landed at Heathrow airport. As the passengers filed out of the arrivals my heart was in my mouth. The moment I had so longed for had arrived. And then through the crowds I saw him; tall and handsome with dark curly hair, like our mother's hair. And then he was in my arms, tears, laughter, hugs and Brin, my husband, capturing it all on film. Our dear mother was surely watching. She had worked this miracle and she had done it out of her love for us. This was what my life had been for. I felt that at last I had come home. Now all we had to do was catch up on our lost years.

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