Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2016

Searching for Leila

Dear Readers,Thank you for returning to my story about putting together pieces of  natural self-hood.  I'm referring to the Sealed Record adoption laws in South Carolina that prevent my sisters and me from knowing the whole story of our origins. This right to know is, in our opinion, one that every American must have.  I was prevented from identifying my natural mother and my siblings, and I still have no "right" to information of my birth father's identification. We three sisters are all in our 60's; not children.  
Our sister, Karen, and I learned of Lottie by chance, in February 2015, through a 2007 internet post on a geneology site.  Lottie was seeking information of our mother, Leila, who died in 2004:
Hi Renee, I am Lottie Lee Caddell Altman and my grandmother was Lottie Lee Causey Caddell. I am the daughter of her son, Alonzo Lanneau Caddell and I was named for my grandmother. My father, grandmother and grandfather are buried at Providence Baptist Church in …

Writing My Stroke Story

June will be 8 years since the hemorrhagic stroke that changed my life.  I began writing about it about 4 years ago.  Today I completed a satisfying manuscript and submitted it to a literary journal. Fingers crossed!  Intensive therapy continued for about 3 years.   I'm not fully recovered, but consider myself to be "nearly there." I have accepted that reality with as much grace as I can.  I'll never drive again, which is no great loss, except of my independence. I'm blessed to have a partner who takes care of me; driving, cooking, and keeping house. He was with me at that moment, and has never failed me.  None of the tests revealed the cause of my stroke.  The usual suspect, Atrial Fibrillation, was ruled out. Borderline hypertension was considered the culprit, with paroxysmal spikes. My right sided hemiplegia (paralysis) was a result of the hemorrhage having occurred on the left side of my brain.  My right torso, leg, foot, toes and right arm, hand a fingers we…

Adopted Child

The Whole Story
The adoption papers are duly notarized, fees are paid, and the year-long foster period is over. A Certificate of Birth and Baptism changes my name from Ruth Ann to Mary Ellen, states that my parents are the couple who fostered me, and shows the 1951 birth date I’ve always known. It falsifies my birthplace as Rock Hill, S.C., and no hospital is named.
* I’m 6 when my parents tell me the story of my adoption, a fairy tale with a happy ending. “Adoption” sounds grown up and strange, special, missing something. Or even precious or breakable. I fantasize the family who came before my adoption. I can see nothing of my father or mother in the mirror.  I had all the dolls and toys I wanted, a loving home, but no brothers and sisters.  How could it be that my first family was killed in a car accident? Why not me? Because I was with the nuns in the “home”? I imagined, even hoped, I would recognize them all in a store or on the street. Who do I look like?  I squinted and studied the…

Web Adventures

Dear Reader,

If you have found me a second time, welcome back!

I've read that if you want to publish in this digital age, it's best to have a "platform," such as a blog.  Intimidated by tech speak, I hesitated.  Facebook's Personal Blog seemed a user-friendly place to start. So, in October 2014, I began to curate craft posts about non-fiction, memoir and writing, in general.  That blog description is: "Writing personal essay/memoir. Sealed record adoptee, stroke survivor, Air Force daughter."   

You can visit me:

On Coconut Bay Lane

The problem with facebook's blog is that to generate interest the owner must "Boost,"  which is another way to say, "Pay."  Since I'm not an income-producing venture (yet) selling views is not an option for me.  I'd rather spend my spare change on paper books and e-books, or on an occasional writing course, or mentoring. Until a few months ago, I had not begun submitting my work.

The on-line writi…

First Time Out

Friday, April 1st at 7:00 pm.

Dear Readers,  It's been a clear, humid day in Sarasota, like so many here.  But this day was different. It began with an email from Heather Lenz, of Wildflower Muse, telling me my short memoir piece had been published!  Garden Shadow is live!  It's the story of my relationship with my dear Nana, Julia Tokar, and my life-long relationship with gardens.

I confess, I am very new at this blog thing.  I have a Facebook Personal Blog, On Coconut Bay Lane at (to which I warmly invite you), but this Blogger thing is new to me. With my patience and yours, I might learn.  Technicalities of permalinks and hyperlinks might early on get past me.  Perhaps my 13 year old grandson, Shaya, might help me on that score <<smile>>.

First, let me introduce myself.  I'm 64; a forever flower child.  I came of age in the "Vietnam Era;" an adoptee daughter of an Air Force Intelligence officer. Mine was a …