Over the weekend I had the opportunity to chat with Adam’s uncles, Bill and Seth (via two separate conversations) and got to find out more about them as well as Wendy. I never thought in my entire life that I would ever get to talk to someone who is genetically related to me. While it is hard to explain, the fact that I got the opportunity to do that was both a surreal, interesting, nerve-wracking and exciting experience. With both calls I didn’t know what to expect. While planned, I didn’t draw up a list of questions I wanted to ask, I decided to let the conversation flow naturally and see how it transpired. It was interesting to get the perspectives of both of Adam’s uncles on Wendy and their relationship with her. In the case of Bill, being only a few years younger I got the sense that the relationship was more brother-sister, where with Seth, being ten years younger than Wendy (and only ten years older than Adam) was more parent/child. Both conversations sort-of had the same structure. I asked about Wendy, what was her personality, details regarding the circumstances of giving Adam up for adoption and how she passed away. I then told them about my life and family history, though a lot of that is easily gleaned from this blog as well as my Facebook posts. I also discovered that they were curious about me and were very excited to find out what became of the “mysterious” Adam. Like myself, they even discussed it with their friends and family.
So, what did I find out about Wendy Wood (nee Madway)? I found out that she died from tongue cancer. She never smoked but it can be caused by a bacterial infection, which is what happened with Wendy. I won’t go into the details of what I was told, but from the explanation she sadly had a horrible time of it. I’ve had various mouth issues (impacted bicuspids, baby teeth not falling out, braces, etc.)., while I do take fairly good care of my teeth, I’m going to be extra vigilant. In talking to Bill and Seth, both described Wendy as difficult, argumentative but also caring and having a heart of gold. I know this is more of a nurture over nature thing, but anyone who knows me knows that I can certainly be argumentative and difficult at times, I’ll let others decide the other (good) part. I got a sense that while Wendy was a very private person, and kept Adam a secret, there was a sense of curiosity. I asked both Bill and Seth if given the opportunity, if she would’ve wanted to meet Adam. Both said that she probably wondered whatever became of the child she gave up and most likely would’ve wanted to know and perhaps meet me. According to Seth, he got the sense that she may have even considered trying to find Adam, but that is all speculation. Seth being so much younger never really knew about Adam until after Wendy’s passing, while Bill, being that much closer in age, did know but it was never discussed. I found out that Wendy was dating someone when she became pregnant with Adam and it is inferred based on the conversation I had with Bill, that this “someone” was most likely Adam’s father. During Wendy’s pregnancy, she went to New York City to live with an aunt. My understanding is that her relationship with this aunt, who would be Adam’s great aunt, was a difficult one.
Education was very important in the Madway family. Pete Madway, Wendy’s father graduated from Harvard (yes, that Harvard) and proceeded to get an MBA from that university as well as a second Master’s Degree, however, Seth was unsure if the second degree was also from there. Pete worked in insurance and finance, which co-incidentally is a hobby of mine, a taste I got from my own grandfather, Frank. Wendy herself, who had a good career working for the New Jersey Division of Taxation as an administrator, never graduated from college, despite her father’s strong encouragement. Unlike Wendy, both Bill & Seth graduated from college, University of Wisconsin and University of Pennsylvania respectively, sorry guys, I’m a Hoosiers fan, go
I always known I was born Jewish. When my parents were going through the adoption process, one of the things that Mrs. Wentworth, the social worker who handled the adoption asked is if my parents were observant. My mom interpreted this as that my biological family were Orthodox. I found out this wasn’t the case. Bill & Edie were Conservative-Reform and that Seth’s family keeps kosher and goes to I think, a reform synagogue in Rochester, NY. While Seth himself has not been to Israel, both of his daughters have been. I myself grew up in a religiously, a right-of center Jewish household who kept kosher both at home and out (never ate non-kosher foods/meat/fish). I went to a “Conservodox” synagogue (Conservative synagogue with an Orthodox rabbi) that was not egalitarian. I have since rebelled of sorts since then and no longer keep kosher, though I won’t eat shellfish and avoid pork but cheeseburgers are yummy.
At some time in the future I certainly hope to meet both Bill & Seth and while Seth does travel a lot and lives approximately 329 miles (529 km) away in Rochester, Bill lives a mere 61 miles (98 km) away. Ironically, Wendy’s town of work, Trenton is the halfway point.