I can't remember what my icebreaker question was, once she realized who I was! I came right home and made an outline (since I don't have a home computer) to try to include the key things that happened in the first visit. So here is an approximation of our visit!
E-I ran into your daughter in law at the bus stop and she told me you were here. I asked her if I could visit you and she highly encouraged me!
N-Yes, she tells me she runs into you.
E-You know, you are in photo of me as a newborn, right after my parents adopted me. Do you remember much about that period? (I don't want to push Aunt N. at all, because we are virtual strangers)
N-I remember alot. I remember that I had to write a reference letter for your mother Helen, saying that she'd "be a good mother." If it weren't for that letter I wrote, she would never have been given you! (wow so it's Noonie's fault!) I figured Helen would be as good a mother as any!
E-But you know that she never wanted to adopt me.
N-Who told you that?
E-Arnie did. Said that she only agreed to adopt me because she was afraid arnie would leave her if she didn't. told arnie that "if you ever try to leave me, you will never see Elana again" Helen never wanted to adopt!
N-Have you seen Helen?
E-She's hiding. She doesn't want me to know where she is!
N-You never had a mother figure did you?
E-No, I didn't. (I'm surprised N. is such a good listener. Most elderly people I meet are very self centered and only talk about themselves, N. is very interested in my life)
E-Aun't Noonie, what was your childhood like?
N-I don't remember much about mine, do you remember yours?
E-Not much, not much at all.
E-How about your relationship with your mother? (my grandmother, also a stranger)
N-Very bad, very strained. I could never please her.
E-Sounds familiar, that's exactly what it was like to have Helen as a mother, it seemed I was never enough for her.
E-How about my father, Arnold? What was your relationship with him like? (my father was very verbally and emotionally abusive)
N- "Arnie was a real brat!" I wish I could say something good about him, but I have no good memories.
E-I don't have good memories either. Will you tell me specifics?
N-Well, when I was 13, I was listening to my favorite album, an opera/aria. Arnie came into my bedroom, pulled the album off of the record player, smashed it and left the room. I cried myself to sleep.
E-I'm immediately reminded of a similar situation that happened with my mother helen, but i don't want the focus back on me, so I try to listen.
N-I was certain it was the last copy of the record, which made it even more heartbreaking. I turned on the radio, and there it was, being played on the radio.
E-"There is a god!" (i quip)
N-"well, I don't know about God but there is another copy of the record!"
E-That's a funny response, I think. Aunt N. is probably an atheist like me!
E-Any other memories of Arnie?
N-Well, I was in my early 20's with a baby, (Warren) living with Arnie and my mother Sarah. I had a date that I was really excited about. He arrived at the door and Arnie answered. He said to my date: "My mother is not a babysitter" and proceeded to slam the door in the man's face! (this is heartbreaking, I now realize that my father was abusive his whole life)
E-That's such a painful thing that he did! When I was 25, I was forced to move back in with my parents briefly. One day, my father said: "Your bedroom is a mess, get out of my house, I never want to see you again!"
N-Arnie told me that you were a slob.
E-(this response surprises me, i wasn't a slob, but either way that wasn't the point of the story that I told her, obviously!) Well, he says that maybe, but that wasn't really the point of the story, the point is that he said he never wanted to see me again!