Marcy Axness

by adminuser on August 1, 2010

My letter to / memories of Annette is attached; to her children I offer this quote I love so much from the late John O’Donohue:
The death of your mother is like a huge tree falling
and the roots tear up through fields of years around you.
Much light,

Dear Annette,

What is it, 20 years since I first sat in your office, interviewing you for “Adoptees in Search”? Me, a green producer at CBS, you, a renowned pioneer in the adoption reform movement. Not to mention the embodiment of sheer class. Your calm eloquence in expressing the impulses and motives of searching adoptees, and why adoptive parents needn’t fear losing them, set an accessible tone that was a big part of that piece’s success. But more to the bone for me now, was that you saw exactly who it was sitting across from you that day in 1980, even when she did not see it herself: you recognized the hyper-achieving, always-gleaming good adoptee with higher-than-average pseudo self-esteem. I think you may have invited me to be in touch with you if I ever wished. Why would I wish? I was GREAT! You were (characteristically) unfazed when I phoned you twelve years later, once motherhood had broken me open. Fearing I was maybe casting out into near-psychotic territory, I nonetheless braved the question to you: “Do you think that adoptees can come into the world already wounded?” Still unfazed, you launched right into telling me about this woman “Nancy Verrier, and something she’s calling the primal wound” making it sound very exotic, as indeed it seemed to so many… and yet it captured so vividly my ineffable yet ever-present reality. You gave me so many gifts over the years, but perhaps the greatest—maybe the greatest gift anyone can give another—was that you saw me.

You listened as I stumbled and fumbled toward clarity. You’d seen it so often, and so I also think you appreciated my putting another new set of words to it. How many times did we sit at your kitchen table—first in the hills and then countless times at your yummy Ocean penthouse—and confab about the heart and soul of adoption? We’d go from meta to micro without a hiccup. We didn’t need to dredge up and sift through the details, a la therapy—broken bonds, disrupted attachment, trust issues, intimacy problems, blahblahblah—but rather it was more like haiku with you. A soulful shorthand. You got it, the gestalt of it, the all of it… and exuded knowing compassion without a hint of cheesy sentimentality. After all, you had walked through your own fires, stared into your own abyss, opened your own Pandora’s box.

And maybe that was the warp of our tapestry together: we recognized and appreciated the truth-teller in one another. You had dared to speak truths about adoption when there was, as Jim Gritter points out, far more at stake. You broke silence early on. So many owe so much to you, Annette—as a trailblazer, a whistle-blower, a visionary. You mentored, you mothered. You told the funniest stories. You shopped till we dropped (or as you would say, “Did some damage”). You plumbed the marrow of complicated human endeavors for meaning and succor. You, in your diminutive, feisty, savvy way, quite literally changed the world.

I am desolate, already missing you… and the idea of you existing in this world… unspeakably much. In one of your last emails, less than 3 weeks ago, you wrote (in your characteristic no-caps way), “i hope you refresh in your hilltop new place, and come into town again sooner.”

beloved annette, i wish you the very same.

Love, Marcy

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: