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  • Writer's pictureHannah Telluselle

My second Mum

When I grew up, I always felt like I had to be the grown-up in the family. My mother wanted me to constantly reassure and comfort her, but when I landed in the Buckman family, during my stay as an exchange student in Ticonderoga, NY in 1988-89, I could suddenly be the kid. I had first stayed with another host-family, the Thyrrings, that my mother knew since Al worked for the same company she did, but in Sweden. Al and Joyce went through some conflicts, escalating into a divorce, wherefore I no longer could remain living with them as planned during my High School senior year. Another divorce, just like I finally had escaped from in Sweden. I was crushed and really wanted to remain in the US to finish, what I had started. After going to Vermont for a couple of days, to stay with my contact person Shirley for ASSE, and talking to my guidance counsellor, the always encouraging Mr Connors, Michelle offered me to come and stay with her and her family.

Mike and Paula's home were not half as big as the Thyrring's house on the hill facing Lake George, but it was big in another way. They showed me photos of their oldest son, who was handicapped and had to gone to live in a nursing home before he passed away. Eric, their youngest son was a handfull and we did fight sometimes. Allison, their younger daughter, taught me how to say grace before eating and what that is. And Michelle, was one of my best friends in Ti, a sister. She kept me in balance, after our joint participation in Jr Miss Pageant, and sharing some of our classes. The Buckman's fed me, and they cared about me. A couple of times, I called Paula Mum. I had just blurted it out naturally. It was so confusing emotionally, when my own mother Rose-Marie came to visit for my graduation. Can one have two mothers?

After I returned to Sweden, we kept sporadically in touch for a couple of years, but it eventually subsided, until Ali wrote me to share about her pregnancy, while she was in college. Another decade later, we reconnected on Facebook and I called Paula ten years ago on Skype from Stockholm. I should have called her more often, but I just didn't know that I was still loved.

A couple of days ago, I heard the song Wild Thing with Tone Loc on the radio, but for some weird reason, it made me feel sad. It used to be Michelle's and my favorite song together with the other Jr Miss girls, playing it loudly in Paula and Mike's van, when we went to Buffalo to cheer on our winner in the state finals. It always has brought me back to fun memories, but this time hearing it, I felt sad. Soon thereupon, I got word that Paula has passed away. Her husband, who she remained faithful to her entire life, passed on in 2011, so hopefully they have now reunited in heaven. Thank you Paula, for taking me in, and letting me part of your family.

Borrowed photo off Facebook, since unfortunately all mine were lost in 2009, when the Swedish government made me homeless.

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