This week my furry four-footed great dane “niece” crossed the Rainbow Bridge. At some point I will have more to say, but for now, please take a look at this tribute video slideshow that I made.
Originally written on July 7th, 2020. This sequence of events, in my opinion, led to my immune system weakening and getting COVID-19.
As I begin writing this, it is 7:30 AM eastern time on July 7, 2020. I haven’t slept since 5:30 AM eastern time on July 6, 2020 a total of 26 hours. My 12 PM mountain time (2 PM eastern) flight from Denver on July 6th took off on time. Somewhere near South Bend, Indiana (according to the captain’s announcement) the captain told us that due to severe thunderstorms, Newark is at a ground stop, this means that no flights are taking off and none are landing. He stated that we will be in a holding pattern over Pittsburgh, but due to fuel concerns as well as the number of hours the crew can work, we may have to divert the flight. At this point we were looking, at best, an arrival at 6:30 PM (flight was supposed to land at 5:35). After about an hour the captain announces that the conditions at Newark are not improving and we are diverting to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. At this point we have several upset passengers who will be missing their connecting flight at Newark (if Newark lifts the ground stop).
We land at Dulles at around 6 PM. We are told that unless you need to speak to a customer service representative, we should stay on the plane as the ground stop can lift as we refuel. About an hour later (7PM) we are told to de-plane but to stay near the gate as they are still waiting for news from Newark. At around 8 PM there is an announcement that the crew has reached their mandatory hours and needs to be replaced and they are trying to find a replacement crew otherwise the flight will be cancelled and we would be put up in a hotel overnight as there were no more flights to Newark that evening.
At around 9:30 PM they announced that they obtained a new crew and created a new flight and we are to go to another gate in another but connected terminal (terminal D to C) to be rebooked. The new flight was consolidating three flights into one. This flight was scheduled to take off at 11 PM as the ground stop was lifted. I stood in line and got a new ticket for this flight from Dulles to Newark. Around 10:30 PM (keep in mind this is already 8.5 hours after I left Denver) there was an announcement that they are waiting for a flight attendant to arrive, ironically from Denver and once they have the full crew compliment, we can then board and get to Newark. At this point I was looking at a 1:40 AM arrival time. I figured, this isn’t great, but if I get home by 2:45 I might get a short nap in.
The flight attendant arrived a little after midnight and it was discovered, unbeknownst to the gate agents, that this person was over their allowable hours and this “new” flight has been cancelled and we will get hotel accommodations and be booked on the 10:30 AM flight out of Dulles today (the 7th). This was shortly before 12:30 AM.
Since I have work today, this was not something I could do, nor it would be silly to sleep overnight just to fly from VA to NJ. I went to the main terminal and found the Hertz shuttle. He wouldn’t take me to Hertz unless I had a reservation. I quickly pulled up the web site and booked myself a Hyundai sedan. He then was able to drive me over. I go into the office area, give them my credit card and license and rent a car for about $100 and begin my 250-mile drive from Dulles International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport (whose route takes me past my house). The biggest issue I had is that in VA and MD there were no toll-takers and you either had to have exact change or an EZ Pass. For one toll in VA I had enough change to be able to pay it, but not for the others. I know this is no big deal as I will get a bill in the mail at some point. Luckily in Delaware and NJ they had toll takers, so I was able to pay using bills. Since the agreement obligated me to refuel, I refueled in NJ in Hamilton on the Turnpike. I arrive at the airport a little before 5 AM and slowly navigate the craziness of Newark (remember, at this point I’ve been awake for nearly 23 hours) to find where to drop the car off. I finally find it (it wasn’t easy) but there was no one for which to return the car. I park it, leave the key in the car and take my stuff. I go into what I think is the terminal (it’s not) and find someone to “return” the car to.
At around 5:15 AM I took the AirTrain (first time for me at Newark) to Terminal A. I call the off-site parking people to pick me up and there was no answer. So now I am stuck at Newark less than 2 miles from my car. I try calling again and someone sleepily answers the phone and tells me they are on their way and where to meet them. I go to the spot and they were there within two minutes. I get taken over to the lot and I easily found my car within 2-3 minutes. I was never so happy to see my own car! I scan my reservation QR code (naturally charged for an extra day) and get on the NJ Turnpike in the opposite direction I came 30 minutes earlier. At this point the sun has risen, so without sleeping I saw it set in Virginia and rise in NJ.
No sooner do I go to the Turnpike, I see all the vehicles are diverted to the car lane as there was a crash in the truck lane (a bad one). Normally I take 1 & 9 home, but I figured this was going to be faster. I was stuck in traffic for about 10 minutes (luckily it was early) and I got home at around 6:40 AM. So, when Dad called at 7, I was home for not five minutes, but twenty, however, I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours by then and had work at 7:30 so I had to run out and get something before work started.
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.
While Adam and I are biologically the same person, I do not identify as myself as Adam, so going forward Adam will be referenced in the 3rd person whereas any first person references will be related to Michael. Below are a couple of photos generously provided to me by Bill Madway, Adam’s uncle via Facebook. In the first photo below from the 1960’s are, going from left to right, Adam’s grandparents Edith (died August 3, 2007) and Pete (October 29, 1926- July 7, 2000), Seth is in the front, Bill behind him and Wendy (1951-2010) to the right. While I will have to see if my parents still have physical photos of me as a child (some of my grade school years is posted on Facebook), there is a very strong resemblance when looking at Wendy as well as Seth. The photo was taken in Levittown, PA in front of their home. The 2nd photo is from about twenty years ago (so late 90’s one would presume). It shows from front to back and left to right Adam’s cousins Arial and Tori (sorry, unsure which is which), their mother Wendy (Seth’s wife, Adam’s aunt), Adam’s cousin David (Bill’s son), Seth (Adam’s uncle), Edith and Pete who are Adam’s grandparents (shoot that explains the receding hairline that I have), Bill, Adam’s other uncle, Wendy who is Adam’s mother and Megan (Bill’s wife and Adam’s aunt). Below that, I may have found an even older photo of Adam’s grandfather. Also included is a brief video of Adam’s aunt and uncle talking about their best Jewish moments. If all goes as planned, I will have a phone conversation this Saturday, so stay tuned for more on this ever unfolding story.
Some of what I am about to explain is fact, while some of it is interpolation.
Wendy L. Wood (nee Madway), age 58, passed away on January 21, 2010. She was an administrator for the New Jersey State Tax Department who resided in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Sister of Bill (Megan) Madway of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Seth (Wendy) Madway of Rochester, New York. Wendy was born in Pennsylvania.
Approximately 35 years earlier a 20-year-old Wendy Madway, who by then had attended two years of college, went to the Helene Fuld Hospital in Trenton, NJ. At around 7:55 AM on a late winter’s morning, she gave birth to a healthy 5 lb. 15 oz. baby, whom she named Adam. Dr. James A Gribbin assisted with the caesarian birth on that day after the Ides of March.
Being unmarried, Wendy gave up young Adam Madway for adoption. Approximately three months later Adam, known as Baby M, was adopted by Kenneth and Carol Bernstein and renamed Michael P. Bernstein.
On March 7, 2017 Michael remembered that a law was passed unsealing the original birth certificates of adopted children, which can be used for informational purposes only. Under this law, an almost 45-year-old man, filled out the form from the Office of Vital Statistics, provided two forms of identification, and a processing fee of $25.
March 29, 2017, Michael decides to check his mail early in the morning. Included amongst the junk mail was a photo copy of his original, thought to never be seen, birth certificate. While he now knows the name of his mother, the father, as listed on the certificate, is unknown. That may be a mystery that is never solved.
Michael, once, even if briefly, known as Adam, did not find photos of the late Wendy L. Wood, but did find photos and even a video of what is presumed to be his biological uncles as well as, through marriage the other Wendy Madway. Adam/Michael apparently does not have any siblings but has at least two female cousins through Seth and Wendy and at least one male cousin through Bill Madway.
It doesn’t change a thing (click the link) for Michael. His parents who he loves, and loves him will always be Kenneth and Carol, but it does solve an enduring mystery about his early life.
I called my parents and essentially read them this post. They were supportive and happy for me. They always were in favor of me looking for my biological family and filling in some of that mystery. It could not have gone any better.
[pdf-embedder url=”https://starthan.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Adam-Madway-Birth-Certificate.compressed.pdf” title=”Adam Madway Birth Certificate.compressed”]
Here’s some video of the coolest dog in the world. I can’t wait to see her again. She now lives with her “daddy” in Denver, Colorado. The video is of her exploring a new park in Denver.
No, I didn’t forget about my blog and yes, I do know it’s been almost a year since my last post. A lot has happened since then. Look for a new article soon.