my biological parents justin and aleta raised me in a typical young married fashion: justin was in school, aleta took some work to pay the bills and they looked forward to a brilliant future.
according to aleta, justin persuaded her that the brilliant future wasn’t going to happen if they kept me and so when i was about to turn three, they went to the children’s home and aid society of chicago. there was a six month waiting period after i was accepted by the patricks. sometime after that six month period, aleta and justin broke up. they divorced about a year later. here’s aleta in a picture taken sometime in the seventies.
i was raised by the patricks until i was fifteen and ran away from home. when i was twenty five i found both my father justin and mother aleta. justin was a professor at the university of houston. aleta was a part time freelance public defender in washington, d.c. she was a lesbian coming out of a relationship with a woman who had undergone sexual reassignment surgery.
aleta had no contact with her two sisters and her mother alyce. she described alyce as evil. alyce had been raised in an orphanage and was stunned when, as she turned seventeen, her mother reapeared and wanted to resume a family relationship. alyce married very soon after, had aleta, lost custody of aleta to her mother, and then regained custody before moving on to husbands number two, three and four. i was in contact with aleta for several years before aleta cut things off–i was paying for her health insurance and discovered that aleta wasn’t using the money for that purpose. i have no idea whether aleta is alive or dead. then i got a big surprise from a stranger. . . .
alyce collects dolls, and at one point had well over four thousand of them in her house. now she lives in a manor house run by the methodists and she can only keep about two hundred. i brought her a sparkly princess belle doll. she likes to talk, and probably feels pretty lonely when there’s no one around to listen. . . .
so she told us about when she raised a tiger in georgia before it went crazy and killed a whole bunch of people and alyce was forced to ship him back to kenya and he cried. she told us about being a weather girl for wgn television and how she was given a police escort when it snowed so that she could get to the studio. she told us about her years working in the circus as a clown. she told us about how the helicopters touch down on the roof of a nearby hospital when they bring in patients and the pilot always buzzes manor house so he can wave to her because he knows her as somebody who ran civil defense. and some of this that she says is true and some of it is just to entertain us so we will stay.
i couldn’t have a relationship with alyce without rita and her husband bruce bowman helping me. they are good people, the sort without which a small town can’t survive. volunteering at the fire department, raising their daughter mandy, keeping active in their church, and helping alyce blum have a granddaughter arlynn.
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