While growing up in a world where parents were like Ozzie and Harriet, Dee Dee Hixson was the good girl-the one who avoided trouble. Yet somehow along the way, she became convinced that she was not good enough. As the idealistic and innocent Dee Dee continued on the path of every young girl at the time, she had no idea that everything would change the moment she surrendered to love and lust.
Being pregnant at seventeen was never in her plan. As Dee Dee narrates the story of her poignant and enlightening journey through life's greatest challenges, she shares the emotions that surround giving up her infant son for adoption, the miracle of life and death, and, finally, the life-altering reconciliation with her son thirty-eight years after he was conceived. Through it all, Dee Dee realizes that although her life is nothing like her idealistic dreams as a teenager, it has still shown her the power of love and its ability to overshadow even the most unimaginable sorrows.
Full Circle shares one woman's incredible story of love and loss and how she ultimately found the courage to stand strong, cherish every moment, and experience the wonder of each day.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.38(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Real Story Behind My Fairy Tale
By Dee Dee Hixson
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Dee Dee Hixson
All rights reserved.
I was (still am) the good girl. I was the one who got good grades, didn't get in trouble, did was I was supposed to; you know, "the good girl." Yet somewhere along the way, I got wired to believe that I wasn't quite good enough. Not as pretty as my cousin Carolyn, not as smart as Gretchen, not one of the cool kids. I was on the honor roll in high school but afraid to go to college. I didn't know I was smart and was afraid I would fail. It took me many, many years to figure out that wasn't true.
My older brother, Ronny, was the bad boy. He was always in trouble. He struggled in school and drove my parents sick with worry. There were cops at the door in the middle of the night and parties every time my parents went out, with me cleaning up the mess so he wouldn't get caught and I didn't get beat up. In March 1965, Ronny had nearly forty high school buddies over to our house once when Mom and Dad were out. They'd broken two lamps and trashed the kitchen by the time I got home from volleyball practice.
"Ronny! You've got to get them out!" I yelled.
Ron was a little drunk and just grinned at me. His hair was disheveled, and his eyes were reddened. "Oh, we're just having some fun," he said. "Don't be such a Goody Two-shoes."
Without a word I started cleaning up the kitchen, pushing kids out of my way, and filling up trash bags with empty beer bottles, paper plates, and cups. Cleaning up was to become a theme in my life.
I also had two younger brothers and a sister: Terry, Shelley, and Jeffrey. As they didn't come along until several years later, they were always "the little kids," and I was the one taking care of them when my mom was busy. I was a caregiver from my early days, groomed to put other people's needs ahead of my own.
All of my mom's family was Mormon, and we grew up in the church. We lived in Tempe, Arizona, which was a very small college town back then. My parents would drop us off at Sunday school every week, and afterward we would walk to the local drug store for a treat. The owner would see all five of us traipse in and jump up on the bar stools at the counter. He always knew we wanted cherry fizzes, and he had them ready for us. After a while, Mom would come pick us up. I think she must have loved those few hours of peace and quiet on Sunday mornings. She didn't work when we were little, but she certainly had her hands full with five kids.
My dad owned an aviation business and worked long hours. One of our fun treats was going to the airport with him on Saturdays and playing in the airplanes he was servicing or repairing. We would crawl up in the cockpit and have great imaginary escapades. The boys were famous fighter pilots, of course. Shelley and I became famous female pilots flying around the world, having adventures, falling in love. Typical kids' fantasies.
Dad was also a private pilot, and our biggest thrill was flying with him on the weekends. We had great adventures as he flew us around the state. The best time was when Dad took just me on a trip to Tucson or somewhere in northern Arizona. It was our special time together. One of my favorite times was when he took me, my mom, her mom, and her grandma on a flight around the city. My great-grandmother was ninety-two years old, and it was her first time in an airplane. A photographer from the newspaper was there, and we were in the Sunday paper—four generations of women flying together. That was really special; I still have that photo.
* * *
In 1965, I was seventeen, a senior in high school, and learning to navigate the world as a teenager in the turbulent sixties. I wore my hair in a smooth bob, finally had contacts so I didn't have to wear my glasses all the time, and was the good student, always trying to do the right thing.
And then I fell in love with Steve. He was cute! Maybe a little short, but he had beautiful dark eyes, longish, wavy brown hair, and a great smile. All the girls thought Steve was adorable. He was only a junior, but that didn't matter. He was fun and popular, and I couldn't believe he was interested in me.
We started dating, and I was one happy girl. We'd pull up to the Dash Inn in his shiny red Ford Ranchero—one of those very cool cars with a pick-up bed in the back—and I thought I was in heaven. (The Dash Inn was the local burger joint and was the first place in town with a drive-through). Even better was when he would let me borrow his Ranchero. I'd go pick up a couple of girl friends, and we'd zoom past the Dash Inn running the gears. We felt so cool!
Steve's and my relationship grew quickly, and by the time I graduated from high school, we were crazy about each other. We were so young. At seventeen, why don't you realize how much life is still ahead of you? How much you still have to learn about yourself and the world? I saw our future with the whole married-with-children, white-picket-fence, dog-running-in-the-yard, happily-ever-after thing going on.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Several weeks after my high school graduation, Steve convinced me that if I truly loved him, I would prove it. It was not a beautiful experience. We had been together for about six months and spent a great deal of our time fighting the temptation to go all the way. Well, I was doing the fighting. He was doing the tempting, and the persuading, and the pleading.
Fourth of July weekend, I finally gave in. We were parked out in the desert, both of us hot and sweaty and cramped in the back seat of his little tiny car, making out. As things progressed, we started trying to figure out how to get all our limbs in the right place without breaking something. I was crazy about him, and before I knew it, our clothes were off and there was no stopping us.
In the midsixties, no one carried condoms around with them, and although the famous "pill" was starting to be available, it was not an option for me. I didn't do that. After all, only slutty girls planned ahead to have sex. But we were full of heat and lust, and I knew I was being bad, but now he would really love me forever.
When it was over, the realization of what I'd done hit me, and I was really upset. Steve held me, and he told me he loved me and everything would be okay. When he finally took me home, I snuck into the house, washed the blood off my underwear, and called him. We talked about what had happened while I cried until the wee hours of the morning.
"I was raised to be a nice girl who didn't do those things," I said as I sobbed. "I'm going to go straight to hell."
"It'll be okay, honey," Steve reassured me. "We're going to be together because we love each other. It will turn out fine."
Besides the guilt, several weeks later I also discovered that I suffered from fertility. Yep, one time only, and my period was late. Of course my mom had warned me. She had pounded it into my head, but I just knew it wouldn't happen to me.
I was horrified and sick with guilt and worry. How could this possibly happen? Why me? When I was a few days late, I told Steve.
I could tell he was as scared as I was. "Don't worry, honey." His reassurance didn't keep my hands from trembling (or his hands from wandering). "Don't worry, I'm sure nothing's wrong."
After a week went by and still no period, I was beside myself with fear. By the time two weeks went by, I was convinced. There were no at-home pregnancy tests in those days, and I was afraid to make a doctor appointment by myself. My parents were up at their cabin in the mountains near Payson, so at least my mom wasn't around to witness my hysteria. The days kept going by, and Steven and I finally knew there was a pretty darn good chance I was pregnant. Steve was getting ready to start his senior year of high school, and neither of us was prepared for the consequences we were about to face. We cried and fought and consoled and talked about it for hours and hours.
One night after we'd been out to a movie, we stood next to Steve's car in front of my parents' house having yet another conversation about what we should do. Steve had his arms wrapped around me as we stood there, and then he stepped back and took both of my hands in his. He kissed me very gently and said, "Dee Dee, I want us to get married."
I loved him so much at that moment and was so tempted to say yes, but even at seventeen I was smart enough to know the odds were heavily stacked against a high school marriage. How would we support ourselves and a baby? He still had his senior year ahead of him. Abortion was out of the question, as this was long before abortion was legal, but that wasn't the real problem. It was just something I couldn't do. I was too scared, and it seemed so wrong to me.
We parted that night with no clear plan in place. I was just floating on a bed of anxiety and fear, my thoughts running around and around in my head.
Telling my parents was the hardest thing I'd ever done. One day in early August, my mom called from the cabin just to check in. The cabin was just a few hours away, and I tried to drive up a couple of times a month, but I'd been making excuses and hadn't been up for a while. I was supposed to go and see them the coming weekend, but I just wasn't ready to face them.
While we were talking, I told Mom I needed some help with something. "Mom, I can't break a confidence, so don't ask me who, but I think one of my girlfriends might be pregnant and she doesn't know what to do. What should I tell her to do?"
Mom hesitated for a while and then said, "Is this someone I know?"
"Yes, but I'm not telling you who. I just need to help her."
Mom said, "Well, the first thing she needs to do is tell her mother so she can get a doctor appointment and find out for sure. Dee Dee, she has to talk to her parents right away."
"She's too afraid of what they'll say," I cried. "Mom, she's scared to death."
"I'm sure she is, but she needs to tell someone who can help her."
"Okay, thanks Mom. I'll tell her what you said." I replied and then made an excuse to get off the phone as fast as I could.
Oh, please. Is there a parent out there who would fall for that? I don't know why I thought I could make her believe me. I guess I was hoping she'd say that being late was normal and not to worry about it.
* * *
In early September Mom and Dad came home from the mountains for a weekend to take care of some business. By this time I was probably about six weeks pregnant, and there was no wishing it away. Steve and I had been out one evening and had yet another long conversation about what to do, and this time we finally made some important decisions. He took me home about ten o'clock, and I went in to tell my parents. He drove home to have the same conversation with his parents.
Mom and Dad handled it as well as any parents could, I guess. I remember lots of tears from my mom and yelling from my father, not to mention the guilt and the shame I felt as they sat there in shock. Mom eventually told me that when they came home from the cabin, she went into the bathroom cabinet and counted the sanitary napkins and realized none were missing. I never thought about that. Can you imagine how awful that must have been for her? Suspecting your "perfect" daughter is pregnant and waiting to find out? In the sixties, the biggest focus was on how to keep the secret so I didn't embarrass the family. Mom couldn't possibly let her friends know what kind of daughter she had. Only bad girls went all the way. Surely getting pregnant was a punishment from God.
The night we told our parents that I was pregnant, Steve and I had made the decision to give our child up for adoption no matter what they wanted, and we were going to stand by that decision. We went round and round with it, and we felt it was our only choice. I would not have an illegal abortion, I knew we shouldn't get married, and in those days, you just didn't keep the child, so adoption was it. We did not waver from our choice. We also made a vow to honor our commitment to not interfere in this child's life.
There were no open adoptions in those days. All the records were sealed, and there were never arrangements for the birth parents to be part of the child's life. We decided to give our baby up because we truly believed he or she would have a better life. We could not change our minds somewhere down the line. It was heartbreaking to come to this decision, but keeping him wasn't right for any of us, and we believed we were doing the right thing.
I was working for a collection agency at the time, so we told everyone that I got a job transfer to Tucson, a couple of hours away. In reality, arrangements were made for me to go to Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers. Florence Crittenton was exactly as the name says, a halfway house of sorts where single women went to hide from the world while they awaited the birth of the baby they would not raise. You didn't actually move into Florence Crittenton until you were in your eighth month, so before moving into their facility, they arranged for me to live with a family on the other side of town.
It was the start of a new phase of my life, one that no one could have been prepared for.
1965–66 The Baby
On the day I moved, my mom was supposedly driving me to Tucson to get settled in my new apartment. Instead we went to downtown Phoenix and had lunch and then went to a movie theater and saw The Sound of Music. (I've never been able to watch that movie since.) Then she took me to meet my temporary family, the Smiths, who would take care of me until I was ready to go to "the home." I was just a kid, and I was so scared. It was hard to stand in the driveway and watch her drive away and leave me with strangers. I can't imagine how hard it was for her.
I lived with the Smith family: a mom and a dad with two young children, a boy and girl, both under the age of five. I stayed in a guesthouse that had been converted from a detached garage. It was small but comfortable, a studio with a compact kitchen and tiny bath. It was connected to the house by a walkway, so I had my own entrance and a little privacy when I needed it. And boy, did I need it.
What a great scam that turned out to be. My duties were to get the kids up, feed them breakfast, and make sure they got off to school. Then I took care of them after school, as well as prepared their dinner, gave them a bath, and got them to bed; basically, I was a nanny. That was fine, except that Mrs. Smith thought it would be good for me to do all the laundry and cleaning, scrub the floors, and also be their maid.
I lived with them for about four months in late 1965 and worked my butt off. Steve visited as often as he could and offered as much support as a seventeen-year-old high school senior could. The Smiths did not approve of him coming over, and I don't think he was supposed to. There were very strict rules, but he would sneak in the guesthouse at night a couple of times a week. Someone from Florence Crittenton would come visit periodically and check on me, and I finally started complaining about my workload. When they realized how much the Smiths were stepping over the line and working me so much, I was removed from their home. Scrubbing the floors on my hands and knees every day was not supposed to be in the game plan.
* * *
So I moved into the Crittenton facility about four weeks ahead of schedule. Interestingly enough, I remember my time at Crittenton as happy. Maybe it was because the girls were all there for the same reason—a sorority of girls and women of all ages and circumstances. We all had big bellies and stories to tell and babies we were going to give away. We were all scared. We cried together and laughed together and commiserated about our problems.
There were usually four of us in one bedroom, and after lights-out, we would whisper our stories to each other. Terri was just thirteen and had run away from a foster home. She was hard and tough; she smoked and talked about living a life I couldn't begin to imagine. Judy was in high school and thought she was in love with her boyfriend until he found out she was pregnant. He dumped her and wouldn't admit he was the dad. Her parents turned away from her as well, so she was really alone.
Then there was Betty, who was forty years old! Ancient to many of us. She kept to herself and didn't talk to us much in the beginning, but we were all so curious. Finally she told us that this was her third child, and her husband had walked out on her. Her grandparents were taking care of her two babies, but she had no means to support any of them, so she had to give this one up.
Everyone had a different story. All the stories were all pretty sad, yet we managed to keep our spirits up somehow.
Excerpted from FULL CIRCLE by Dee Dee Hixson. Copyright © 2013 Dee Dee Hixson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. 1965 Steve.................... 3
Chapter 2. 1965–66 The Baby.................... 12
Chapter 3. 1967–68 Battles.................... 19
Chapter 4. 1971 Amy.................... 25
Chapter 5. 1974 Bethany.................... 51
Chapter 6. 1980 Time Moves On.................... 84
Chapter 7. 1986 Joy and Healing.................... 95
Chapter 8. 1988 California, Here I Come.................... 100
Chapter 9. 1991 Amy as an Adult.................... 130
Chapter 10. 2003 Full Circle.................... 148