Published in the November 25, 2016 edition
(This is the second part of a two-part story.)
By GAIL LOWE
MELROSE — It is written in the Book of Proverbs, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
What this means is that the delay of what a person eagerly hopes for and expects is such an affliction that it is like a lingering disease. But once the hope is fulfilled, it is a tree of life — sweet, satisfactory and reviving to the soul.
Walton Park resident Angela Albano left home on Sunday, Oct. 30 to fly to Oregon to reconcile with the son she had been estranged from for 22 years. Part 1 of her story was written in the Melrose Weekly News in late October. We promised to update readers with the second part of her story when she returned home.
To recap, Angela’s only son Abraham (Abe) left Massachusetts in the middle of the night 22 years ago after his mother learned he was involved in illegal behavior. After struggling with her conscience, she knew she had to do the right thing and contact authorities.
Abe left the state with his wife and children and eventually settled in Grant’s Pass, Ore., where he currently lives. Angela now has 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, some of whom she had never met. All live on the West Coast except for Angela’s daughter Elizabeth (Liz) Perea, who resides in Manhattan. One granddaughter named Sarah, age 27, did meet her grandmother at one time, and as time passed she began to miss her. Sarah, about to become a mother for the first time next May, was instrumental in reaching out to her grandmother this year and asking for a chance to visit again face to face.
When Angela and Liz arrived at the airport in Oregon, they were met by Sarah and her partner J.V., who welcomed them into their home, located in a valley with pine tree-covered mountains on either side.
“We felt guarded by those mountains,” said Angela.
The following day the house began to fill up with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, some of whom were strangers to Angela.
“They were all beautiful, talented people — and each of them was carrying my DNA,” said Angela, with wonder in her eyes. Altogether, 10 grandchildren and three of their boyfriends were present for this first reunion. Four great-grandchildren could not be there due to other obligations but most noticeably absent was Abe, Angela’s son. Still, she held on to her hope.
“There were lots of hugs and conversation, not to mention lots of food,” said Angela. “It was one big family reunion.” Though Abe did not attend her homecoming, Angela figured she would see Abe within the next few days because that had been the agreement between mother and son.
Two days after the first family reunion, grandson Jonathan, age 21, took Angela to see the home he has been building on the side of a mountain.
“They are rustic, back-to-the-land kind of people,” said Angela. “The house was framed but building was far from complete.” She thought she might see Abe that day, but it was not to be.
Another surprise still awaited. When Jonathan returned Angela to Sarah’s home, she found that Jonathan had taken her out for a good reason. While she was gone, streamers, balloons and other decorations were placed around the house to honor Angela’s 80th birthday. (Her actual birthday is Dec. 5, and a celebration is planned at her church, Grace Chapel in Wilmington, on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 2 to 4 p.m.)
“The floor was covered with kids. There was food everywhere — spaghetti, meatballs, lots of wine,” said Angela. “Jonathan played his harmonica and we all had a really wonderful time.”
For her birthday, Angela was given a dark green “Oregon Ducks” sweatshirt with yellow lettering, an album of family photos and a gold chain with a heart and key pendant.
Though Angela and Abe had agreed before her arrival that they would meet in a public park, she couldn’t help but wonder if, at any moment, he might walk through the door. But he didn’t, so she told herself to hang on a little longer.
Then, on Nov. 9, just before their scheduled meeting, a text arrived in Angela’s cell phone in-box.
Abe was not coming. He couldn’t bear to see his mother. “I am emotionally and physically unable to meet,” he wrote. When Angela read the words, her heart sank.
“Betrayal is a stinging sensation,” she said. “My heart ached inside me. This was an opportunity that might not happen again, an opportunity for healing. I was so disappointed that he could not handle it.”
Angela’s granddaughter Christine, age 29, did her best to encourage her father to keep his word, but he said he just couldn’t see his mother.
He wrote Angela again, “I don’t think it can work.”
“Abe simply couldn’t bear to see Liz and me,” Angela said.
For the remainder of the trip, Angela did her best to keep her chin up but the thought persisted in her mind that she might never see her son again.
On the day of their departure from Oregon, while driving to the airport in their rental car, Angela still held to the hope that she might see her son before takeoff. She and Liz made their way through the airport, got their boarding passes and hurried along through security when it finally happened. Angela received a text message. She stopped what she was doing and read it.
“I am here,” Abe wrote.
But it was too late. There was no turning back. Her flight would be taking off in a matter of minutes.
“He must have sped down the highway to get to the airport,” said Angela. “That renewed my hope once more. It was a healing and soothing trip for me, and I’m hoping it was healing for Abe.”
Though Angela did not get to see the son lost to her for 22 years, her disappointment was a small part of the overall experience, since she did reunite with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“I have felt euphoric joy ever since and it will continue until spring when I plan to go back.”
Though Angela’s story does not have a Hollywood ending (at least right now), she will not give up hope.
“I believe God is doing a work in Abe,” she said. “The ice is broken. I think next time I will see my son. I have a lot to be thankful for.”
Angela Albano’s GoFundMe account set up in Elizabeth Perea’s name is still active. Of the $4,000 original goal, $2,375 has been raised, but they exceeded their budget for the first trip. Funds are still needed for when she returns to Oregon in the spring. All contributions, no matter how small, are welcome and appreciated.