November: Past, Present, and Future 

One year ago, I was enjoying Thanksgiving preparations in Boise with my two sons and their wives. We had all planned to get up early and do the 5K Turkey Trot, but my son Adam woke me up very early on Thanksgiving morning. When I shook off the sleep, Michael, Valerie, and Sally all came into my room and hopped on the bed, smiling from ear to ear. Adam had received some news through Ancestry DNA from a man named Kurt—the son I had never met but have loved dearly for the past 50 years. 

Kurt had been on Ancestry DNA for a couple of years, looking for his birth parents. Adam had started researching our family history just a few months before Thanksgiving. It never occurred to me that his curiosity would change all of our lives in one deliriously happy moment.

In the wee hours of the morning, we all sat on my little single bed in shock, excited and numb. They knew about my son, from a teenage pregnancy, who I had adopted out 50 years before. They knew I would welcome him with open arms should this closed adoption somehow prove to be not so closed after all. When we learned he was alive and well, it made our heads spin.  

After hours of excited conversation about how we should move forward, we reached Kurt on Skype. It took several tries, but we finally saw his face. My GRANDSON was also there. My emotions were a mixed-up bundle of joy, curiosity, uncertainty, and excitement. Will he be ready to hear about some painful details? How much do we say over the phone? As it turned out, the call went as if we were all old friends. When we were able to talk privately, Kurt ended our call with, “Good-bye, Mom; I’ll see you soon.” My heart broke and healed all in the same second, and I didn’t fear any questions he may have.

They came for Christmas. I visited him and Nayelli, my new daughter-in-law, and her wonderful family for Kurt’s 50th birthday in February.

When I told my children about Kurt years ago, I was ashamed and terrified. I had stuffed that part of my life into a hidden place, never to be heard from again. It was hard just to form the words, but they cried with me and embraced me, and it seems like they love me even more. 

I decided to share this because I believe it’s time. We all have a past. Perhaps mine will help others who may be struggling know that they are not alone.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with the blessings and traditions of the past that made you who you are today.

Anita Howarth,


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“The past is never where you think you left it.” —Kathryn Ann Porter

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