No More ‘Ends’- Birthday Reflections

As a teen, I requested information about my biological family from the New York agency that handled my adoption. More than curious, I felt incomplete without my roots. When my ‘non-identifying’ information arrived from the Children’s Aid Society, a surprise fell from the folds of typed revelations. It was this photo.

firstphotoDated March 1965, it is the only photo of me prior to my adoption at eight-months-old. Today, as I celebrate my Christmas Eve birthday, I can’t help but reflect on the circumstances of my arrival and survival. As I sit on the soft leather of my decades old sofa, watching the simmer of bubble lights on our memory- filled Christmas tree, I am counting every blessing.

I came into the world quite alone, survived a traumatic childhood, graduated high school, attended college, and found love. I have enjoyed three terrific careers in various writing capacities, and own a three-bedroom house that I would have considered a mansion as a child. It’s all good.

I was reminded of just how good, as I shopped this week for cold cuts to make my husband’s favorite dinner- ‘the sandwich bar’. When the deli counter worker asked me, “How would you like that sliced?” I laughed. The question reminded of my (post divorce) childhood, when sliced meats were rare treats.

“Anyway you like, just don’t give me the ends,” I replied.

I went on to tell the grocery worker how, as a child, my mother could only afford to purchase what the supermarket called ‘the ends’. ‘Ends” were the unsalable hard ends of the meats and cheeses. To my twelve-year-old psyche, ‘ends’ were the pitiful leftovers of rich folk’s sliced orders.

Every other week, the deli set aside ‘ends’ for my mother, each generously priced at pennies on the dollar.  At the grocery checkout, the ‘ends’ embarrassed me to my teenage core. I wondered why we could not buy sliced meats like everyone else.

Today, I admire my adoptive mother’s creative use of ‘ends’ to enhance boxed mac and cheese, and as an alternative to the endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we consumed.  She bought and prepared them with love.

While I consider the bounty we will enjoy for my birthday and Christmas Day, a tiny part of me wishes for the simple abundance of a few choice ‘ends’.

Blessings for a Christmas full of precious morsels & memories,

V.L. Brunskill
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