A Tale of Two Mothers, Part 1

This is a post about my Birthmom, and Part 2 will be about my Mom. I am adopted. One woman gave me life, one woman raised me and gave me belief, and then the first one came back and gave me a very wild ride. Now I have both of them in my life and they are wonderful. But they gave me very different things. Today, I will talk about Laurie, my Birthmom, the rune reader and artist.

This is Laurie when I first met her. Here she is standing outside of the library in Las Vegas, where she lived when I went to live with her in the summer of 2000. I was 31. We had just met on my birthday about six months before this picture. She hadn’t seen me for exactly 31 years.

She lived with Mary, who worked as a chef, pretty high up in the Station casinos. Mary’s station was Boulder Station Casino, and she was in charge of six restaurants, I think… maybe more.

At this time, I’m not sure if Laurie was a rune reader. She might have been. But she took me to the Luxor and we shopped for Egyptian gewgaws and went to the MGM and took our first photo together with a lion cub. I don’t know if they do that anymore. If people still stand behind a lion cub, with their hand on his rump, as they feed him milk from a bottle and then take the bottle away for a split second so they can snap the picture. And you are one milk bottle away from claws.

I can tell you about singing abilities or artistic talents you might have. I can tell you about yourself and the family I came from. —from her original note to me in the mail, that accidentally went to my folks in Texas.

We met dangerously in Las Vegas in 2000, and I stayed with her for a summer to try and get to know her and myself a bit better. I don’t know if I can tell her story here, but I know I had a great time meeting her and getting to know her over that summer. I have vowed to tell it later. It involves a lot of casinos, some gambling, a bathroom renovation, a lodge in the mountains, and a growing understanding of myself as part her.

She is full of adventure, and love, and we argue a lot because we are alike. She once sold her home to take us to Ireland on a once in a lifetime trip. We were both healing from broken relationships, and we had never been on a trip together in our lives, and Ireland turned into a place where we acted out all our hopes, our anger, our depression, and our desires to move forward with our lives. A lot can happen in two weeks.

Later, when Laurie lived with her Sister, Nancy, I got to know Nancy better. I affectionately called her Anti-Nancy because I was raised a good Christian kid and tarot cards were suspect! (the DEVIL! Evil Spirits!) and I was supposed to stay away from them, but here was such a cool person, I couldn’t believe the rumors! So, in fun, I called her the Anti-Nancy (like the Anti-Christ) and she laughed and we became friends, and she did her first reading for me in the summer of 2007.

They are a team. They go to psychic fairs together, reading tarot and runes. They still do readings (tarot-runes.com) and they have taught me a lot about how they live with Spirit in their lives, and how they can speak to people they have loved who have passed on. Both of them have lost a dear partner that they still hear from now and then. They have taken me to services at the famed Camp Chesterfield, a small village of Psychics and spiritualists, with educational programming, where they were known to frequent (it was not far from where they lived).

I was cautious about spiritualism at first, but gradually I came to understand that tarot and runes were a way for people to talk about what they wouldn’t talk about under other circumstances. The cards were prompts. Often, they were the prompts a person needed. They wanted to talk about something that was bothering them but didn’t know how to start. Often a card was a nudge. A nudge was just enough to start a client talking, working out a problem or issue, often with ideas that they already had thought of, but needed to verbalize. Not everyone needs a psychic, a reader, but sometimes we do… we need a stranger to prompt us to speak about places where we are hurting. We need someone to affirm us in the decisions we’d like to make but don’t feel are the “right” ones, the ones we are “supposed” to make.

I was surprised at how accurate Tarot and Runes could be. I am always slightly skeptical. I keep a fourth eye open just in case the other three are taken in–and I reserve the right to always say, “Wait a second…” But oddly enough the cards were right in Nancy’s hands, the runes in my Birthmom’s.

Today, I’m stepping into my birthmother’s legacy as a reader, my birthfamily’s legacy as readers, to help other people talk about what they need to talk out, to give advice, or to just listen as we use the cards to talk about work, about love, about hopes and mostly about family, the weirdness of family, the legacies of our parents, the strange love of our mothers.

PART 2 to come!

Published by jstueart

Jerome writes science fiction/ fantasy and queer fiction and has been published in many magazines and journals including The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Fantasy, Tor.com, Strange Horizons. His first collection, The Angels of Our Better Beasts, was published in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award. His work was/is a finalist for the Eugie Award and the World Fantasy Award. He also makes art---acrylic paintings and small watercolor paintings. He holds a PhD in English and is currently working on an MA in Engaged Humanities and the Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He lived for 10 years in the Yukon Territory, but now lives in Columbus OH.

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