LOST SON?
A Child's Journey of Hope, Search, Discovery and Healing


MEMORIES OF A LIFETIME


During the course of writing for this book I found myself in a very reflective mood. Those reflections continue as the book is drawing to a close...thus this, chapter.

What an unforgettable journey it has been and oh, what memories! I thought of the things I have lived through as far as history is concerned, as well as my personal experiences. There have been high and low points in both.

I recall John Glenn's memorable journey into space in 1962...a short three orbit flight, but oh, what a flight! At age 77, he gave us all hope as we grow older, by going up once again in the space shuttle.

The hope and joy the nation had with the election of a new president in 1960, was to be shattered with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. I was in seventh grade science class when the news came over the loudspeaker that President Kennedy had been shot. Those of us in the class sat in stunned silence. Not long afterward, we heard the words, "President Kennedy is dead."

Class was dismissed, but rather than returning to the dormitories or cottages at Boys Town, there was a steady stream of boys making their way to the chapel to pray.

Throughout the three days that followed, small black and white televisions continually aired the various events from Washington, DC. Also, special masses were held each day in the chapel, which was full to overflowing for each one.

It was a very somber Thanksgiving Day at Boys Town, as it was just three days after President Kennedy was buried. I have been able to go to Arlington National Cemetery and visit his quite simple grave.

Would the country have taken a different course if he had survived? Unfortunately, this is a question that will go unanswered.

A brief five years later, Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated. I had met Senator Kennedy just a few weeks earlier at Boys Town, as he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination...now he, like his brother, was gone. It seemed the nation had gone crazy.

The Civil Rights movement of the mid-sixties, continues in many ways, since racisim and discrimination still exist today in many forms.

The Vietnam conflict, which divided our nation and cost us over 56,000 young lives, including some of my friends and classmates, also drove a president not to seek reelection. After all these years since the war ended, we still await full accounting of those brave men that have not come home!

America's race to the moon. I still remember vividly, being glued to the television set on that hot, sticky Sunday night in July 1969, as the lunar lander touched down and Neal Armstrong took his historic first step... "a small step for man...a giant step for mankind." That night, I felt that as a nation, we could do anything!

Watergate, the disgrace that Richard Nixon brought to the presidency by his actions and his thankful resignation.

The Bicentennial Celebration of 1976. I was among the millions on the shores of the New York harbor as the tall ships sailed into port, followed by the gigantic fireworks display that night...it made one proud again to be an American.

There was the disaster of the Challenger space shuttle exploding shortly after liftoff with the first "teacher" aboard; the slaughter in Waco, Texas by a madman in the name of God, watched on television across the country.

Then there was the horrific bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by one of our own, that took the lives 168 men, women and yes, even children. I think these events brought us closer together in a small way as a nation...but soon we forgot.

We as a nation, were stopped in our tracks the in past few years by hate crimes. James Byrd was murdered in Jasper, Texas because he was black. Matthew Shepard murdered in Laramie, Wyoming because he was gay. Who will ever forget the tragedy of Columbine High School? We have even seen children attacked due to hatred at a Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, as well as Christians shot while in church in Texas. Of course, we continue to see the Israelis and Palestinians butchering each other in the name of peace and security.

September 11, 2001, we saw the greatest attack of hate upon our country when in the supposed name of a God, men turned planes into bombs as they crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On that day, we also saw our first victory over this evil, as brave souls gave their lives by crashing the last hijacked plane into the quiet countryside of Pennsylvania to save others the hijackers had been aiming at...with the simple words..."Let's Roll!''

When will we ever learn hate solves nothing...but it creates a never ending circle of hate.

I have lived through the presidencies of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Sr., Clinton and now George W. Bush.

The discovery of the Internet...we are only just beginning to realize its potential. It will change the way our children and grandchildren live in ways we can now only imagine. Yes, I still remember a simpler day...those early years of life when one had but a radio for music or news from the outside world...now many of us have rooms full of electronic equipment. To me the best way still to enjoy the World Series is on radio and let the imagination run wild picturing the actual game in your mind.

History has taken may turns in my lifetime. Great achievements were accomplished, while at the same time, our nation saw eras of strife and great national grief. We have in some cases learned from our experiences, while in others, we have not and seemed destined to repeat some of our mistakes unless we make changes as a society.

Just as in our nation's history, so too has my personal life seen the same roller coaster of highs and lows.

I started life as a bastard child. The son of an unwed mother of 19 and a father who wanted no part of her or me. She decided long before she would give me up for adoption, though I was never adopted, it was the best decision she ever made. I searched for, discovered and was rejected by her yet again...but it's an experience I would go through again, as it made me whole and I am the better for it.

I went to BOYS TOWN, NEBRASKA which I still call home today. I got my college degree and have been able to lead a productive life, as well as hopefully helping a few others along the way.

I discovered my roots, my real heritage; not the heritage of others. I know now that I am Polish & German and very proud of it. I have discovered, though too late to have met many of them, my great grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins. Today I can no longer say I do not have a family or I belong to no one. I've, however, met: Dorothy, Steve, Florence, David, Ann, Roger, Jerry & Carol. I have thus far also been able to write to Jon, Bill & Sue. I have been truly blessed and my heart is full.

I discovered at a young age that I may be gay. I struggled for years with it and attempted suicide. Then I met a partner with whom I was blessed to share my life for 22 years. He taught me how to love and accept love, which I had never experienced before. He taught me to live my life to the fullest of my potential. Though we are no longer together today...I will always cherish those 22 years I spent with him as my partner.

The tragedy of AIDS struck my life in 1980 and remains a part of my life today. 140 of my friends from over the years have died, including 22 of my closest. I still remember and think of every one of them every day.

I have lived through the verbal abuse and physical assaults only because I am gay. I felt the horror, anguish and pain at the murder of a young gay man named Matthew Shepard and realized it could have been me. It made me only more determined to fight to end hate and discrimination...not only against gays/lesbians, but for all, no matter who they are.

Yes, life, despite it's ups and downs, has been good to me...I have been blessed with much. I have had a circle of close friends over the years, good health overall, despite 3 heart attacks, a good home and fairly comfortable life. Knowing how my life began, I can't help but be thankful each night to God for all of it.





Through the downs, I believe I have grown. They have made me a stronger and also, I hope, a more caring person towards others. I have, I know, made my share of mistakes along the way...I think I have learned from them, after all that is what life is all about. Learning, growing and maybe giving a little something back and making this world, in our own small way, a better place for our having been here.

I don't know if I am at the sunrise or sunset of my life. Whatever it is, I plan to continue living it to the fullest until the least breath is taken. We are only here for a short period of time...I plan on making the best of it with everyday I am blessed to live. I think I'll be the optimist and say I am just at the sunrise of my life...I have so much I still want to do and experience.

Yes, as I look outside tonight, I will see a star-filled sky above me and reflect upon our nation's history as well as my own. I can't tell what the future holds, but I do know I will eagerly await the sunrise of yet another day.

I cannot say the wounds or pain of my life have been healed, as they have not. Those memories will remain within my heart and soul until my last breath is taken, but I will not allow those memories to control my future.

May the future offer me opportunity to be a channel of hope, warmth, comfort and love in someone else's life! May someone say when I am gone...whenever that might be...the world is just a tad better because I was here.



PEACE!

CLICK BELOW TO PROCEED

CHAPTERS:


EARLY YEARS


MOM & DAD MONSHOR


FOSTER HOME #11


BOYSTOWN GRADE SCHOOL


BOYS TOWN HIGH SCHOOL


JIM ACKLIN: DEBATE PARTNER


COLLEGE & ACCEPTANCE


MATT: LIFE PARTNER


NEW YORK, NEW YORK


SEARCH & DISCOVERY


FIRST LETTER TO BIRTH MOTHER


BIRTH MOTHER'S STORY


FINAL LETTER TO BIRTH MOTHER


BIRTH FATHER'S STORY


FIRST CHRISTMAS


A HOLIDAY SEASON TO REMEMBER


REMEMBERING 1ST COUSIN DOROTHY


REUNION WITH THE MONSHOR FAMILY AFTER 45 YEARS


WHY DID I SEARCH


RETURN HOME TO BOYS TOWN


BOYS TOWN TALES OF YESTERYEAR


MEMORIES OF A LIFETIME


FRIENDS LOST TO AIDS


A FEW LESSONS OF LIFE


EPILOGUE


A SEARCHER'S GUIDE



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