Image by Moaz Eleman
When Barbara was reunited with the son she gave up for adoption, it opened up a whole world of weird feelings.
Final song: Your Life in the End by Prince Rama.Playlist
Sugai Ken – Okera – UkabazUmorezU
Claude Debussy – Claire de Lune
Syrinx – Journey Tree – Tumblers from the Vault
Visible Cloaks – Place – Reassemblage
Huerco S. – Hear Me Out – For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)
Fennesz, Sakamoto – Glow – Cendre
Pauline Anna Strom – Virgin Ice – Spectre
Christopher Willits – Rising – Horizon
Banabila & Machinefabriek – Awake – Macrocosms
Kreidler – Deadwringer – Den
Samuel Adams – The Super Secret Symphony – Ambient Systems 3
Mount Kimbie – Break Well – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
Susumu Yokota – I Imagine – Grinning Cat
Isao Tomita – Suite Bergamasque, Claire de Lune, No. 3 – Snowflakes Are Dancing
Producers: Steven Jackson
It’s kind of overwhelming, it’s a very large building, a very old brick building… It must have been a mansion at one time. I think they told me it was a mansion.
It had big ol’ furniture, like you’d see in a mansion. You know, big stuffed couches and chairs… There was bars on the window, and I don’t know it that was to keep us in or keep them out.
It wasn’t a really safe neighborhood either at the time. At that time you didn’t wanna be wandering around.
You walked into a hallway and there was a staircase that was right in front of you, that you could have gone up to, where there was bedrooms and stuff up there. Next to the stairway was an elevator, it was like a cage. Then there was a little hallway where there was a phone on the wall, and you could use that phone.
You didn’t have phones in your rooms, you didn’t have cell phones that you could carry everywhere you went… And people could call you too, they’d give you a call. “Barbara! Barbara R., phone for you!”
We weren’t allowed to use our last names. I could be Barbara R., but that’s it, I was Barbara R. Everybody knew me as Barbara R., or Sally B., or whatever you were, but nobody had last names.
I never kept in touch with any of them. For some reason you just don’t. That’s a shame. I would love to see some of them again, see how they did.
They had this big living room where you could sit, and they had a piano. This woman was playing the piano, and she was playing Claire de Lune, which has always been my favorite song. It was just beautiful. She was a very fantastic pianist.
I sat down, right by the piano, I just sat on the floor, right next to the piano, so that I could listen really close. I just cried. That’s terrible to got through that alone. And a lot of women do… Girls, women – that’s all theirs. You did it, you’ve got it. The man can walk away.
* * *
Gosh, how do you explain what it’s like? Well, you don’t only want girlfriends, you want boyfriends. You don’t wanna only just hang around with girls, you wanna be around boys, too. I met a boy that lived a couple blocks away. He asked me for a date and we started going out. When you say “going out”, I don’t even remember where we went, I don’t know what we did. Probably movies. That’s about all you did in those days, you went to movies.
We didn’t go dancing, or anything… He wasn’t a dancer, and I wasn’t a dancer, so I guess we just kind of went to movies. Then my parents worked nights, so I wasn’t supposed to have anybody in the house, but he was in the house. We would watch TV, you know, and then you start necking, and then you get into trouble. That’s how it all began.
When did you guys have sex?
When he was there. [laughs] What kind of question is that one? Whenever we could, I guess… I don’t know, I don’t remember that far back. I really don’t. I wish I could help you out, but I don’t remember it, no. You’ve gotta remember, I’m 80 years old. [laughs] I’m lucky I still remember what sex is.
My mother approached me one day and said “Are you still getting periods? Because you’re not using anything in the box anymore, and I’m using it all. What’s going on here?” You know, it was an accusation.
My father was not a happy person… He actually took off his belt and beat me, because he just — “What are we gonna do now?” and they just were furious. It’s understandable, but you know, that was their reaction to it; they didn’t know what to do.
They had a powwow with his parents, said what they were gonna do about this, so we went upstairs to my bedroom to talk about what we thought we were gonna do. We had it “Well, we’re gonna get married and we’re gonna raise the baby.” That’s how you think when you’re 15 and 17.
That’s all I ever wanted to be, a mother and a wife. I never had any aspirations to be a movie star or a career woman. My career was gonna be raising my family.
We went downstairs and they had very different plans. They thought the best thing to do would be to have an abortion. This way nobody would know, it’d all go away, and everything will be okay. I said “No.”, and they said “Well, then you’re gonna give it up for adoption. That’s your choice, one or the other.”
Where would I go? I couldn’t stay home, because then the neighbors would know and everybody would know. So they went to Salvation Army and they suggested that they put me in Florence Crittenton Maternity Home.
Do you remember when you first started showing?
Oh, I was probably about four months pregnant… Because I was thin, so it showed pretty easy. If you’re a fat girl, you can hide it for a long time. You just think you’re getting fatter. Not today… Instead of wearing smocks like we did to hide it, now they’re talking about their bumps. Everybody’s got a bump. We weren’t allowed to have bumps, we had to have smocks.
My parents would come and visit me occasionally, rarely. My dad would drive my mother there, but he wouldn’t come in. He didn’t wanna see me.
And did your boyfriend come see you?
No, never. He was no allowed to. His parents wouldn’t allow him to come. In fact, they bought him a car to stay away from me. He’d call up on the phone once in a while, but that was about it. I never got to see him. So I was traded in for a car.
But you could go out when you wanted to. I mean, if you wanted to go to a movie, you could; it’s not a jail, it’s just a place of security to stay in, where you get your meals and you’re taken care of. There were some really nice people there… I mean, just people that got pregnant, that’s all, and didn’t want the world to know.
Well, I was the only one that was 15. I was 16 when he was born. Have you ever been through a childbirth? [laughter] It’s a lot of fun.
Did you feel prepared?
Yeah, I felt I knew what was gonna — I knew it was gonna hurt. It must not be too bad, I’ve three more after that, so… It didn’t kill me.
As I was in my room, having labor pains in hospital, this Mexican woman was down the corridor, and every time she’d have a pain, she’d go “Ayayayayay…” Every time I think about people and labor, all I can think of is “Ayayayayay…” You’re supposed to do that when you have a pain. [laughter] I probably just said “Ugh!” I don’t remember screaming or crying, I just remember trying to get through it the best I could.
It was hard, because you know that that’s gonna be it. You’re glad that it’s gonna be over with, but you know that this is the end, you’ll never see him again.
I think the worst part was knowing that I couldn’t hold him, or I couldn’t see him after he was born. You saw him come out, and that was it, off he went. They just bring them out of the nursery and hold them in front of you, in their arms. They don’t offer you to hold him; they don’t want you to hold him. They are so afraid you might change your mind… The agency is waiting there for that baby. They’ve already got him planned for somebody else. But they just held him, and I just looked at him, and they said “Say goodbye to your baby.” And I just cried and walked away. There’s nothing else you could do.
You grieve, just like when somebody dies. You grieve. There’s this heavy burden of the fact that you’ve lost your baby, you’ve lost your son. You’ll never know him. But I can remember saying to him when they brought him to show him to me after he was born, I said “I’ll see you again. Someday I’ll see you again.”
What was your life like after that?
Sad. I didn’t go back to school. I was a sophomore. I figured everybody knew I was pregnant, and I wasn’t gonna go back and face all those kids. I went and stayed with my aunt in California for about six months. A friend of hers asked if I could babysit, because they were going out, and my aunt said I would be glad to. They had three children, and one of them was a baby… And I’d never wanna put him down all night long, and as I was holding him, I thought “What would it feel like to even breastfeed this baby?” I didn’t, but I thought “What would that feel like? What would it have been like if I had kept my baby?” And that’s all you can think of, is “Baby, baby, baby.” You can’t get it off your mind.
I got married when I was 18, and I had my first son a year later. Then I had two daughters after that. It’s not easy when you’re 18, because I had 18, 20 and 22. They were all two years apart.
Was the son that you had put up for adoption – was he on your mind in these years?
Always, yeah. His birthday, of course… That was always a day that was sad for me. I never talked to my husband about it, because it wasn’t a subject that he liked to bring up, because he didn’t like the idea that I had had a baby before I met him anyway, so it was kind of my secret; I kept it to myself.
I was happy, but I ended up getting divorced after many years of marriage. It wasn’t a blissful marriage, it was one that I thought probably was going to make me feel better, so I don’t think I was fair to him.
* * *
I saw a woman being interviewed on TV.
[It’s an emotional day for Chicago native Kathy Malcolm…] She had just found her birthday family.
[…from the moment I heard this woman’s voice, I felt like a different person. I felt connected to the rest of the universe.] I wrote down the number of the group that she had used – Truth Seekers in Adoption – so then I thought “You know what? I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna look for him.”
They don’t get the records, because the records are sealed. But I had some non-identifying information from the cradle, which is where he was placed. They were really good at doing what they did, so I found him within a matter of months.
That’s all part of the healing process too, doing that search yourself and getting that information and taking it at your pace, not somebody else’s pace; you have to go at your pace. You think you might be ready for something that you’re not ready for yet.
What did you wanna call him? What name were you comfortable using?
Mitch… Because he never wanted to be identified.
When I did find him and I did call him, I said “I don’t know if I’ve got the right person, but were you born at blah-blah-blah-blah?” I mentioned his birthday, and he says “Yes.” Then I was like “Well, I think I’m your birthmother”, and he said “I always knew you’d find me.” And I said “That’s funny, I always thought you’d fine me. I’ve been waiting all these years.” That’s how our conversation started.
I invited him to come over to my house. My daughter (one of them, Donna) called me and she said “Mom, can I come over when he comes over? I wanna meet him, too.” I said “Not tonight.” I said “This is my night.” I just didn’t want anybody there. “You can have him later, but right now I want him to be all mine.”
The hours can’t go fast enough, it just drags… You’re sitting there, waiting for that doorbell to ring. You pace the floor, you don’t know what to do with yourself. You don’t know what to wear, you feel like you’ve gotta dress up for this, like you’re going to a prom, or something, like “This is such a special day.” It’s a long time to wait, 26 years.
He pulled up alongside on the street, and Bob was looking out the window. Bob says “He’s here! He just pulled up!” I was like, “Oh, my god…” Rang the doorbell, I went to the doorbell, and I opened the door. He’s standing there, and I said “Oh, my god, you look just like your father.”
He was thin, wore glasses… Wasn’t exceptionally strikingly handsome, but he wasn’t ugly, so that was good. He didn’t look like my other children, who had a different father anyway.
So he came in, and we had dinner, and then Bob was kind enough to say “I’m kind of tired, I’m gonna go to bed.” And it was early, it was like seven o’clock, six o’clock, something like that… And I was so glad that he did. And he did it because he knew we needed to talk to each other.
He was an art teacher, very, very talented. He was friendly, outgoing, single when I met him… He told me about his family, he wanted to know about the kids, and I brought up pictures to show him his brothers and sisters, and I think he stayed till like two o’clock in the morning… We were still talking.
Then I walked him to the car, and we talked again for another half hours at the car. It was like we couldn’t say goodbye. I just didn’t wanna let him go again. “If you’re going, I’ll never see you again.”
* * *
It’s such a burst of feelings… It’s like an explosion. You start out thinking “My baby, my baby, my baby, my baby”, and then you realize, “Hm, he’s not a baby anymore. This is a grown up man here. Now, how do I deal with the man?” The baby I could have dealt with, but the man is harder. A baby you can hold in your arms and you can hug… You can’t do that with a man.
4th July he was over at the house one time, and Bob was at the firehouse, so it was just the two of us. We were outside sitting on the porch, and then we came into the house. We were just talking, then he said he was gonna go home, and I kept saying “Don’t go, don’t go, I don’t want you to go”, and I was feeling really shook, like he was gonna go and he wasn’t gonna come back. He kept looking at the clock, “Well, I’ve gotta go. I’ve gotta go. I’ve gotta go”, and I didn’t want him to go. He didn’t say what time he was gonna go, just “I’ve gotta go”, so I took the hand on the clock and I just stopped it.
I got real emotional, and he got scared and he ran. He jumped in the car and he went. I felt like “Oh, my god, what did I do? I scared him away forever”, but I was just feeling so much emotion for him, and all I could do was cry.
The more and more I got to know him, the stronger my feelings got and the more I was starting to feel really weird. “If I could only hold him, if I could only hug him, if I could only touch him…” But then “I can’t touch him. I don’t know how to just grab him, hug him…”, it just didn’t seem natural. You think about it, and then you try and get your mind off of it as fast as you can.
He’d sit on the couch and I would maybe throw my legs over him; then I thought, “Oh, is he uncomfortable with that? Really uncomfortable.” So then I thought “I’m getting way too familiar with him and he’s getting way too uncomfortable with this.” And I was getting uncomfortable with it, so why am I feeling this way? I’m feeling feelings I don’t wanna feel about him. This doesn’t seem right. He’s my son, he’s not another man.
Every time I’m with him I don’t feel like I’m with a boy, I feel like I’m dating somebody, and I wanna be with him. But I was… I was starting to feel sexual feelings for him.
When you first start feeling like this, you think “Boy, there’s something wrong with me. Why would I feel like this?” It was awful, it was spooky, it was frightening. I thought “I must be out of my mind, this is crazy. What kind of oversexed freak am I that I would feel this for my son?”
Can you explain it?
I don’t know if I can… It’s a feeling of wanting to be sexual with this person, you wanna touch them… It’s actually a feeling sometimes of wanting to breastfeed, just because you never got to do any of these things. You never got to hold this child, you never got to feel their skin against your skin, and it’s all that wrapped up into that. It’s hard to even put into words, to tell you the truth. Then you feel “I can’t wait to see him again, I can’t wait to see him again”, just like you do when you’re in love with somebody. I fell in love with him.
How did you get over feeling crazy and ashamed? How did you work up the courage to talk about it?
I don’t know, I’d never been one that you could stop from talking about anything that I really felt. I always figured there’s somebody out there in the world that’s gonna understand, and if they don’t, they don’t like it and they don’t wanna be around me, they won’t be around me. I’ve never been afraid to say what I think.
[It sounds shocking, but it happens. We’re going to meet people who have felt these kinds of feelings, and it’s all next right here on the Maury Povitch show.] For years I was being interviewed by this one and that one on different TV shows, because that was such an unusual subject. Not that it was an unusual thing to happen, it was an unusual subject for anyone to talk about.
[“Barbara Gonyo put her son up for adoption in 1952. 26 years later, guess what? They were reunited. Shortly thereafter Barbara found herself to be sexually attracted to her own son. [audience sighs] Are you surprised at that response?”
“I guess I am. I’m always unaware that people have not heard this and that they’re so shocked and disgusted by it.”
“Yes, we are. You know why? Because the…”
“It’s a taboo.”
“Maybe the worst, right?”] Who was gonna go out there and actually get out in front of the camera and say “I’m sexually attracted to my son.” You’ve gotta be nuts. So they must have said, “Here’s somebody that’s nuts enough to say it.”
[“Not much sympathy here…”
“I know that.”
“Not at all.”] People would look at you like, “Oh, that’s disgusting”, and I thought “I’m sorry, that’s the way it is.”
[“You know what they’re saying over here? You’re sick. The woman’s sick”] That is really sick!
[“The woman’s got a problem, she’s sick. I wanna find someone in our audience who when we first started this several minutes ago said “Boy, what kind of craziness is this?” and now, since we’ve come to the end of this segment, feels “Okay, maybe it’s alright.” No? You still have great misgivings about this person. Are you surprised at that? Okay, we’ll be back right after this.”
[commercial break] 2193, a world 200 years more advanced, and 200 years more dangerous. In 2193, the world’s most notorious fugitives escape 200 years into the past. Now, in 1993, there’s only one man who can stop them. A cop from the future, here to hunt them down. Time Tracks! A new night of television premieres 20th January on Channel 50 [commercial break ends] “Okay, you’re not any more understanding now than when you heard Barbara’s story in the beginning.”
“No, not at all.”
“She never did anything.”
“I know, but she would have, I think, if he had been agreeable to it, if he had felt the same way.”
“So the only reason they didn’t do anything was because he didn’t want to.”
“Barbara, do you believe that?”
“No, because you have to have boundaries, and if the boundaries aren’t setup… I was so terrified that I would have lost my relationship with him totally that I would not not have done anything.”
“I don’t think you had any boundaries.”
“Oh, I did.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because she said that she was sexually attracted to him, she wanted to touch him, and I think that if he had agreed to it, I think it might have gone further.”
“I don’t think so.”
“So in effect, in your heart you wanted to commit incest.”
“In my heart — I don’t…”
“I mean, the same way that — a famous Jimmy Carter line, “I lust in my heart.”
“I may lust in my heart for you too, but I’m not gonna do anything about it.” [applause] “But what about your husband? How did he react to this? The compassion for your husband and how he feels…”
“My husband probably — well, I shouldn’t say this.”
“Well, say it.”
“We probably had the best time of our marriage in that particular time.”
“Because you were more honest with each other?”
“No, all my frustrations were taken out on my husband. He was a very lucky man…”]
Do you remember when Barbara told you about the weird feelings that she’s having?
Bob: I don’t know that she ever told me.
Barbara: [laughs] I don’t know if I sat down and told you or if I started talking about it. (crosstalk)
Bob: The only thing is when she was giving them lectures, and then gonna write a book… I understood what it was; I understood exactly what it was. They lost all the mirrors, they never got to cuddle, they never got to hold.
Barbara: I ignored you asking me one time “Would you go through with it?” and I said “Absolutely not.”
Bob: Did I say that?
Barbara: Yes, and I said “Absolutely not.”
Bob: Wow, I was inquisitive.
* * *[…and if we can’t be open about this… All we’re doing is shoving it under the rug like it doesn’t exist, and it exists.] We had meetings monthly from Truths Seekers in Adoption, and I led the meetings… And I would bring it up.
[…and when people call us, what we do is explain this to them, and they say “Get out of here. You’ve gotta be some kind of horny old lady to be talking about things like this.] First of all, they think I’m nuts and there’s no way — “Not me, noooo way would this ever happen to me.” Then they’re very surprised when they find out that it does. Then the more and more I start talking about it to other people, they were coming to me.
[“When I met my birthmother, I certainly had this curiosity… What does it look like? What’s this?”
“I’ve gone through physical attraction phases, too. Needing to sleep with her in a car park… And she was me!”
“For some boys, they have to love their mother first to be able to love another woman. The adoptive mother is a love in one way…”] That’s a relief, to know that you’re not the only person that feels like they’re nuts.
[“…as a matter of fact, I’ve only told this to one another living person.”
“Do you feel safe telling it here?”
“I do feel safe, and I’m very glad that we’re talking about it.”]
They e-mail me, they call me on the phone… “I’m feeling the same things you are. I don’t know what to do.” I would say “Try and come to the meetings as much as possible; we’ll talk about it as much as we can, so that you don’t have to go crazy over it.” You just have to work through it.
So what did that work look like for you?
Just knowing it couldn’t be done. I couldn’t have sex with him, I couldn’t hold him, I couldn’t kiss him… Even just to hug him – I was even afraid to hug him. In fact, I didn’t hug him when I first met him. It must have been about that tenth time I think that he came over at the house; he was like “If you’re never gonna hug me, I’m gonna hug you.” I was like “Okay, and then I never wanted the hug to stop, but it did, and we didn’t hug anymore. That was the last time we hugged.
That was the first and the last time?
It was at a conference, and this girl was talking about her brother. She’s like “Oh, I’ve just met my brother. I can’t believe what I’m feeling about him.” She says “I was riding on the back of the motorcycle, holding him around his waist while he was driving… I had this terrible, genetic sexual attraction for him.” I was like “That’s a good term for this! That’s what it is – a genetic sexual attraction.”
[There’s certainly a possibility that being genetically close to somebody would make them more attractive to you if you are not brought up in close contact with him during your childhood.
Because you share the genes, you would recognize something of yourself in the other person.] It’s misplaced love. You never got to go through the steps raising that child.
[I think it’s very understandable, because the boundaries that would be in family life which would preclude having incest aren’t there.] All that deprivation that you had from never being able to touch them, to hold them, to watch them grow… And now you’re getting the finished product.
[This is clearly incest by definition, in that it’s sexual relationships between people who are very closely related genetically. But from a social perspective, it’s not incestuous.] I’ve talked to so many people after that happened to me and I felt those feelings; I don’t know how you DON’T have them.
[Up to 50% of people when they reunite can experience it.
It seemed to me — aren’t you really quiet? Yeah, normal…]
Somebody had asked me to write an article about genetic sexual attraction and I decided to do it, and then I thought it’d be a good chance to show him the article and ask him to read it and see if he would give me any feedback on it telling me he felt the same thing. I wanted him to read it and say “Yeah, I feel that, too.”
I can still picture the apartment… He lived above a store in Arlington Heights, and I’d go over them and visit him once in a while.
Typical bachelor apartment. There were no feminine touches, no curtains… Just a bed, a TV, a lot of books… Just living alone as a single man.
So as he’s reading this article and I’m talking about how I feel about him, afterwards I said “What do you think?” and he says “You’re talking about me here.” I said “Well, what do you think?” “Yeah, that’s very well-written.” He said “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to say.”
You know how it would never had happened? If I would have known him all his life. That’s why I wanted open adoptions. That’s why.
If I would have given him to another family, but yet I knew where he was, how he was, who he was, I would have watched all the stages of growth, I wouldn’t have gone from a baby that I never got to hold, to a man standing in front of me.
We’ve got to let people be in each other’s lives, because you’re caring all the genes from those other people. You’re like those people.
I can see why adopted parents would be–
Oh, they’re frightened; they’re scared to death.
Not even frightened, but like… They didn’t sign up to adopt a child…
And a parent.
And a parent! [laughter] Right. No, I don’t want you to adopt the parent too, but have some kind of connection… With the parents even; even if it’s not with the child, have it with the parents, so that they can communicate with each other, so that they know that he’s okay. Send pictures, something. Some kind of communication, that would be nice.
I think I told you the people across the street – their son is thinking of adopting, because his wife could get pregnant the second time. I tell them to make sure they get an open adoption. She says “You can’t get anything but an open adoption today.” Good. Good! We’ve finally got someplace!
If Mitch had felt the same way, do you think that the two of you would have had sex?
No. I don’t think I would have let that happen.
Because I would have lost him for good. It’s wrong, and I would have lost him.
There’s all kinds of temptations in this world, and you’ve gotta fight them, because society doesn’t accept that. They’re hurting.
So if society didn’t frown on sex between relatives, would it be okay?
Not with me, no. If you felt that way about your mother, would you sleep with her? Would you have sex with her?
Because there’s a gut reaction that I couldn’t get over.
Right. Same thing. You never get over that. You know it was wrong and you’d never be able to live with that. You can’t make it something right out of something that’s wrong. It’s still gonna be wrong.
I know brothers and sisters that are living together yet, to this day, but they’re telling everybody they’re just living together as brother and sister. I say “If you’re smart, you’ll keep it that way. Don’t even bother telling them.”
A lot of people think, “Oh, they’re just so close now that they’ve met… That’s really nice.” But they’re having a sexual relationship. They’re living together as husband and wife. In fact, I think I know of one that even had children. That would scare me, having kids… Because the genetic components aren’t always the best. I don’t think it’s wise.
Who am I to say you shouldn’t? It’s not my life, it’s your life. That’s the only way you’re gonna get through it. I can’t say it’s right, but how can I say it’s wrong?
I think most people would have no problem saying that it’s wrong.
No, I’m sure they wouldn’t, because they don’t feel it. [laughs] It’s never happened to them. If something’s never happened to you, it’s easy to say it’s wrong.
For myself, when I hear of a father molesting his child, a little kid that’s 14 years old or 12 years old or three years old, I think “What is the matter with this man that he has to do this to a kid?” So I don’t know if that’s even considered the same thing as genetic sexual attraction. I think they’re over sex, period, and they just wanna deal with somebody that’s little, that’s helpless. That’s how I take a pedophile as being. I don’t know. They got one down the street here, poor guy. That’s scary. Why are they that way? I don’t know.
Yeah, I think it’s wrong, but I can’t judge that because it’s not my job to judge. I feel it’s between them and God, not me. I feel sorry for them, I really do.
Mitch: I didn’t feel it, because this is a biological mother.
Barbara: Oh, my God… I don’t remember his voice sounding that deep.
Yeah, well they pitched it down to that.
Mitch: And so once that word “mother” enters into it, what’s your next thought? “I wanna sleep with her”? I mean, this just doesn’t make any sense.
Barbara: I don’t remember this at all.
Mitch: The question I would raise is if genetic sexual attraction sounds like there’s something genetic in there, there’s something chemical, there’s something in-born, if it is, does it skip generations? Because I didn’t feel it.
I was surprised by the way he described the hug.
Mitch: Well, she tried hugging me once, and she cried, and cried, and cried… But I probably felt a little stiff about that.
It seemed very…
Barbara: Cold, yeah.
Mitch: It just — it didn’t register on me, other than “I don’t like this… Don’t do this again.”
I met him when he was 26, so I didn’t know him for 26 years, but I knew him for over 30 afterwards. We grew old together. [laughs] We just kept in touch. When he got married, he would bring the kids over, and with his wife. He would tell them “This is Barb, this is Bob”, but he would never tell them who I was. He didn’t tell them who I was until right before he died, and his kids were in their teens.
He’s like “I’m tired of this BS, I’m gonna tell them. I’m gonna tell them who you are.” I said “You don’t have to…” “I’m gonna tell them who you are”, and that’s when he was in bed, dying.
I wanted to go and see him at the hospital, and his wife advised me not to. She says “It’d be easier for you not to see him.” I guess he was in pretty bad shape by that time. He had brain cancer. He probably wouldn’t have remembered me anymore anyway.
I was hurt by that, I wanted to go and see him. I didn’t realize he was that close to that, so I never did get to go and say goodbye. I felt “I should have gone, I should have gone. No matter what, I should have gone.”
The memorial service – that stands out in my mind a lot. His father was downstairs greeting people, and I went up to him and I looked at him and I said “Do you know who I am?” He’s like “No.” I said “I’m Barb.” He says “Barb…! You’re Barb? I’ve wanted to meet you for so many years… You have no idea.” We talked for a few minutes and then I said “Well, I have to go”, and I started to walk away. As I was walking down the hallway and I looked back at him, he was going “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” That just choked me up. I can still see that man’s face saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you…”
Then I went upstairs to meet his mother. I was shaking… Because he wasn’t my rival; SHE was my rival. I went up to her and I said the same thing, “Do you know who I am?” She said “No” and I said “I’m Barb.” “Oh… Uh-huh…” She said “I know he was always meant to be mine.” I was like, “You know, he probably was…”
Do you feel satisfied? Do you feel like you were able to say what you wanted to say?
Well, I wish I would have been able to say it when he was alive, instead of after he died, because I would have liked to have spent some time with them and gotten to know them, and just say “Thank you so much”, because he had a great life, and I couldn’t ask for better parents for him.
So I just walked away and I’ve never heard from them since. I probably never will.
* * *
I want you to know you’re the last interview I’m doing.
Mm-hm. I’m not gonna do anymore.
Well, for one thing, I don’t remember so many things anymore. It’s just enough words out there, enough things to read now, and I think I’m through. It’s getting harder and harder to remember the incidents anymore without re-reading my book every time somebody wants an interview… Because it’s all starting to fade away.
They say it’s the early stages of dementia – whatever that means – but I think they say that about everybody. I talk to people at church, they’re all around my age and they all say “I’ve got the same problem, I’ve got the same problem.” Everybody gets a shorter memory as they get older. But it just gets so annoying because you think “How could I forget that? How could I forget this?”, but you do. It just goes away.
I’m still getting people writing to me and still saying that the feelings are there, and they’re glad I wrote the book… And I’m glad I did, and I’m glad I’m open and I’m glad I was able to get in front of a camera and make a jackass out of myself at times. [laughs] But sometimes you have to do that. And if you’re asking did I do anything about it? No, I didn’t; I’m just telling you what I felt. For those poor people that did go ahead and do things, they’re paying for it; it’s costing them dearly.
You find that the older you get, you realize you pay for everything you do.
When God made the Earth in the first place, he put rules down. You don’t live by the rules, you pay the price. If you read the Bible, you find out that everybody paid the price.
When I stop to think about the condition the world is in – and it’s in bad condition… We’re breaking laws all the time and breaking rules all the time, and that’s why it’s so bad. All we do is murder each other, kill each other… Everything is terrible. The world’s a time bomb, it’s waiting to go off. I think Trump’s in there for a reason. He’s in there to destroy the world, and I think he’s gonna succeed. This is why it’s gonna end.
The Bible said that from the beginning, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The world is gonna be restarted again, and it’s gonna be replenished.
How will I be judged? [laughs] I don’t know… That’s up to God, not me. I don’t know.
Do you have any guesses?