Everyone is always waiting for that one phone call that can change their life or for Publisher’s Clearinghouse to show up at your door with a giant check. Most of us never get these significant events: but Gayle did.
This is a story about a woman whose already tumultuous, but otherwise happy life turned completely upside down with one Facebook message…
Gayle was teaching at Sierra Nevada College in 2010, going through the motions when she logged onto Facebook and noticed that she had a new message. It was an unnerving message from someone that she thought for sure she’d heard the last of. He was asking the same question he’d asked six years before.
Gayle had first became aware of this person six years prior. It had been, as it always is in when these remarkable situations arise, a normal, boring day. Her phone rang and on the other end of it was a man who identified himself as a private detective. She wondered why a private eye would be trying to contact her…
She began to think about what this PI wanted. Perhaps her mother had hired them to help locate the fortune that she still believed Gayle’s father was hiding from them. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t done it before, several times over the years in fact: to no avail. Still, none of those various detectives had reached out to Gayle before.
Her What Now?
She asked the man what he wanted, to which he replied with no shred of sarcasm, “Your son is looking for you…The son you gave away in 1985.” The investigator’s words shook her to her core. She thought back to the year it happened. She thought about how young she was and what might have been going on at the time…
Gayle thought back to 1985. She was seventeen at the time and still a virgin. She would be a virgin until the next year and neither her first time, nor any of the subsequent times after that would result in any sort of pregnancy: not for a while anyway. So what was this private investigator talking about?
Gayle was disoriented. She had always been so sure of herself of her decisions and indeed of reality itself. Yet now, she felt like her whole past was now in question. Had she forgotten and repressed an entire pregnancy? Had no one else remembered it? Her mother was delusional and she had always been concerned that she might in some way inherit that malady…
No, she was certain that she would have remembered something like giving up an unwanted teenage pregnancy. Gayle told the detective that he must be mistaken. He must be looking for another Gayle Brandeis. The investigator thanked her for her time and hung up. It wasn’t until the Facebook message appeared in 2010 that she even thought about it again.
The Facebook message brought back all the uncertainty of that 2004 call. This time, it was the young man himself, the abandoned boy from 1985 that had messaged her directly. He was asking her if she, Gayle Brandeis was his biological mother. She was completely taken aback and didn’t know what to say. When she didn’t reply, he messaged her again…
The man asked Gayle if she had given birth on a certain day in 1985. She hadn’t given birth to anyone in 1985. She had given birth to her youngest child three months prior though, and the strange, unsettling message was not doing any favors to her during her recovery. Not only that, but she was also reeling from her mother’s psychotic break and subsequent suicide a week after the birth.
Despite her misgivings about responding to him. She wrote back that she hadn’t given birth in 85’ and that she wished him luck in his search for his Gayle Brandeis. The man apologized, said “Be Well” and signed off. She needed those words of comfort in her time of mourning. But the man’s search was far from over…
Though they had been infrequent and spaced over years, the calls and messages seemed to haunt Gayle more than she thought they would. They caused her to think of the loss of her own mother and how it must have felt for this young man to be so desperate to find his own past. She felt true empathy for him.
Are You My Mother?
Then, in 2016, he reached out again. The words, “Are you my Mother?” shone bright on her computer screen. He had reached out again, not to bother her, but because despite his best efforts, he’d had no luck finding the woman who gave birth to him. His message was heartfelt and he seemed to believe that Gayle was purposefully not acknowledging him as her son…
What’s more, the man, whom she had begun referring to as her “Shadow Son” was going to become a father himself soon. If Gayle was his mother, she was soon to be a grandmother and he wanted her to know that. She wanted to offer to be a mother figure for him, but the man only wanted answers. He wanted truth.
The young man added that there were other reasons he needed to know the truth. He was dealing with, struggling with some health concerns and he needed to know if she was really his mother so he could ask her personal, medical information. This was the third time he’d reached out, and it was making Gayle more and more uncomfortable each time…
Anything to Help
She wanted to be firm but polite. Once again, she told him that she wasn’t the woman he was looking for. She was not his biological mother. This time though, instead of just saying goodbye, she told him that if he needed, she would be willing to help him find his real mother: if only to find him some sort of closure.
A Serious Discussion
Gayle talked with her husband about the situation. He too felt empathy for this young man’s plight and wanted to help. They decided that they would work together to help Shadow Son track down his biological mother. It was a strange feeling to finally be of help to him after all those years, but it felt right…
The Search Continues
It had been 14 years since the private investigator first called her and in all that time Gayle had never considered this as an option. She and her husband soon went into full detective mode. It became a challenge, but one that brought them closer and brought Gayle closer to the young man. Remarkably, after months of searching, they found her.
There was just one problem; the shadow son’s mother had passed away a couple years prior. Now it was a matter of explaining to this poor, desperate soul that he’d never get the cathartic reunion he’d hoped for. If Gayle and her husband had been heartbroken about the situation before, this would take it to a new level…
Breaking the News
Swallowing her worry, Gayle shared the information with her shadow son. Surprisingly, the news didn’t break him as completely as she believed it would. Instead, the two of them began to talk and open up to one another. Complete strangers though they were, their shared fate had seen them become fast friends.
Filling the Void
They spoke on the phone soon after that and even exchanged “I Love You’s.” It became a mutually beneficial relationship. In Gayle, the shadow son had found a mother figure and through their efforts they even found his biological sister. And it all happened because Gayle had decided to pick up that phone for that private eye.