Chat With Adam’s Uncles & More About Wendy

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.

One thought on “Chat With Adam’s Uncles & More About Wendy”

  1. Hi Micheal, this is Seth and Bill’s first cousin, Margie Gottlieb Aaker. I wrote to you this morning on Facebook. My mother, Sarah was Wendy’s Aunt, as you decribe the difficult one. I vaguely remember the summer, I guess when Wendy stayed with us in NY, but I had no idea that she was there because she was pregnant with you. My parents were very unique people. My dad was always in the television industry, and at that time was a writer/producer for “Today Show” when Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs were on it. My mom was probably working for some nonprofit like, Planned Parenthood. They were intellectuals. I was in my early 20’s and went to Parsons School of Design, and became a graphic designer. I have an older sister, Carol who is 75 now, but was married and living in Philadelphia. Your mom was a sweet girl, and I might have working as a graphic designer in those days when she stayed with us. I saw her over the years, when her parents died at their memorials, and during the weekend before she died of cancer at the hospice. My husband Jack drove us down to see her, and had a loving visit. Then your uncle Seth and his family came, and I think uncle Bill. Then during that week, she passed away. I believe that she only was diagnosed of her cancer during the fall, to when she died in the winter. What a sad thing to happen to her. I don’t know what to say about learning about you, but I hope that somehow we can meet and if I have any photos of your grandparents I’d be happy to share them with you. I think I have some wedding pictures, but Seth might have them too. We also had another aunt, Gertrude Walker, who past away in the late 60’s and uncle Meyer, who also died in the 60’s. Gertrude was married to George and they had a son, Bill who became a pathologist and I think he moved to Chicago. I’m sure that you’re parents gave you a wonderful life and you had a chance to develop into a loving life, and I’m just giving some backstory of the life that I recalled. Edie and Pete were loving people, and my favorite relatives.

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