Me - Me
Camin - Camin
Maggie - my birth mother
Tom - my birth father, now married to Maggie
Ruby - Maggie's mother, my maternal grandmother
Don - Maggie's late father, my maternal grandfather
Bridget, Mary, Michael - Maggie's sisters, my aunts
Patrick, Kevin - Maggie's brothers, my uncles
Camin and I arrived at Ruby's house at around 8 PM. Ruby was a marvelous hostess, and an archetypal Navy wife. We discussed Maggie, life in general, and the eerie similarities between my experiences and Don's. For instance, in High School, Don was the drum major for the marching band.
I learned a lot about the family history, and am proud to say that Don was a WWII Navy war hero, who earned a Silver Star when he rescued five enlisted men from the plotting bay after his ship was torpedoed, and did so with a broken ankle and burns on his back.
I pulled out the packet of photos that mom had prepared, photos that spanned from my adoption through college. Ruby was very happy to have them, and walked around with them during our stay to show them to the rest of the family.
In the morning, I met with Kevin, who'd just gotten off of work as an overnight stocker at a grocery store. Kevin is an affable, laid back fellow who was a true pleasure to talk to. He's an avid motorcycle rider, and brought gifts from the local Harley store. He's the second-youngest child (Maggie is the youngest) and was able to give me a lot of insight into Maggie's personality, habits, and propensity for stretching and twisting the truth.
Later on in the day, we met up with Mary, Bridget and Bridget's husband Dan for lunch at the local Applebees. I was relieved to find out that the entire family is in the tank for Obama; Mary and Bridget were wearing Obama shoes! We had a lively conversation on family history, my own background, politics, and the SCA. Throughout the meal, Bridget and Mary kept leaning over to Ruby and saying "he's got dad's lips!" Kevin did this once or twice as well, and as this was the first time anyone's ever said "he's got [name]'s [body part], it was rather disconcerting. I found myself promising to return them before I realized what was actually being said.
Bridget had prepared a packet of photos to give to me, which I'll be scanning soon to share with all of you. She also gave me a copy of her book, signed with the inscription: "To Kevin, Welcome to the family!"
Eventually, we had to part ways and head back down the coast. Camin and I stopped in Morro Bay overnight, which was very pleasant.
In all, the trip was an astounding success. I'd been so worried about what I might find, or what I might say that would offend, but the McGraths are some of the nicest, most open and welcoming people I've ever met.
Addendum: since the trip, Maggie has told Ruby over the phone that I am her son and that she wants to meet me, but that Tom isn't my father. This is progress, I suppose, from her saying that I was a charlatan who was trying to bilk the family out of money. Still, when I saw her online yesterday, I said "hi Maggie" (it's become my ritual whenever I see her online, to give her the never-taken chance to talk to me) when she actually responded! Her first, and so far, only words to her long-lost second son since last May? "Not now."