A Quest for Answers

A Quest for Answers

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

A Quest for Answers

Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.
~Oprah Winfrey

Many things in our lives go unexplained. Some things we wish we could find reasons for, mainly the times in our lives when we feel desperation and sorrow. Sometimes we need a scapegoat, somewhere to put the blame. And some of us spend years trying to find answers that are unattainable.

The quest for answers can lead us down a dark and narrow path, many times alone and afraid, with the walls closing in. The “why” and “how” become more than just questions, they become our only source of motivation to do anything in life. Without those questions hammering at our conscious mind, we have nothing.

Then there are the other events in life that go unexplained. Wonderful things happen to us and we praise the heavens, exclaiming our thanks without wondering how they came about. We find ourselves blissful and become afraid to even ask the questions. Should we test fate? It has handed us something amazing; who are we to ask “why?” We revel in our happiness, enjoying it, knowing it could end at any time. The bad stuff could be just around the corner.

When I was but a few months old, my mother took me to a social gathering at the home of a relative. The gathering brought together women of all ages and relations to the hostess—some sisters, some aunts, some friends. As a saleswoman presented her plastic wares, passing bowls with airtight lids, my mother passed me to open arms that would rather examine the cooing bundle before them than the latest trend in food storage.

The years passed after that simple gathering of women and my young life changed so much. At the age of three and a half, it was missing one major component: a mother. The woman who once cuddled me and smiled at me found herself in need of answers, leaving me in search of them. Did she feel desperation and sorrow? Was something missing in her life that she needed to find? In her search for the “what” and “why,” she left my father in need of his own answers. How would he raise a child all by himself? How would he make a happy and complete life for us?

Our resolution came in the form of a woman. She entered into our lives when we needed her most and was more than willing to step into the roles of wife and mother. She cared for us both with compassion and love, giving us what we were missing, and more. She guided me as a child, bandaging my wounds, cooling my warm head. When I was a young adult, she helped me through the awkwardness and guided me on the right paths. I owe so much of who I am to her. She has taught me firsthand how important it is to love unconditionally and how a family is not necessarily made by blood. A family consists of the people who care for you without hesitation or limitation.

As an adult, many times I wanted to ask my mother why she left, if she found what she was looking for. And if she did, was it much better than what she left behind? But the more I wondered about the answers, the less I really wanted them. I wasn’t going to become one of those people on a never-ending quest for the truth. I was happy with my reality. How could the answers really help me? I felt they wouldn’t. My life was forever changed when she left, but because of one amazing woman, it became the best life for me.

Not too long ago, my family was reminiscing about old memories and talking about how my father and stepmother met. I had heard the story several times, recalling how his brother and her sister, who’d been friends for years, introduced them at a summer cookout. I was also told that she, the woman who raised me and has loved me for most of my life, the one I call “Mom,” was at that same social gathering of women when I was but a few months old. She came to the party out of friendly obligation, like so many of us do for girlfriends who host candle parties, home decoration parties and the like. She came expecting to purchase a new bowl or kitchen gadget and in addition, got the chance to hold the party’s tiniest guest. She held me in her arms that day, the future unknown to her as well, in a moment of unsung serendipity. A connection was made between us, I am sure of that, and that force is what brought her to us some three years later. That connection has kept our family strong for more than twenty-five years.

As I look forward to the future, with her as a grandmother to my children, I feel warmth and happiness that they will also know her generosity. We are a family, through all of life’s turns, bends and loop-de-loops. I know that if a time ever comes when we find ourselves in need of answers, we’ll find them together.

~Stephanie Haefner

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners