YOKNAPATAWPHA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
Investigating Officer(s): Det. T. Armstrong, Det. S. Murphy
Incident No.: 002586-24E-2020
Case Description: Zoe Chase homicide investigation
Richard Bertuch's assistant, Tammy Wilson, recently found the last entry Zoe Chase wrote for her column "Zoe's Chase" in The Oxford Weekly Planet and emailed a copy to the Sheriff's Department. The entire, unedited text of the final column is presented below.
My Mother's Eyes
A few years ago, I made the startling discovery that I was adopted. Never having seen it coming and having learned about it so late in my life, the news sent me reeling.
While I think all of us wonder sometimes "where are my real parents," we none of us, realize that words such as these uttered in angered adolescence may ring truer than we would like.
Naturally, throughout my life, I have had fallings out with my parents. I have felt alienated, and as if I didn't belong, but those were temporary feelings that faded when the anger did. Though, looking back, I see that there were signals all along the way.
I wondered why I didn't share any common features with my parents or any members of my family for that matter. You'd have thought I would at least have had my mother's eyes or my father's nose or Aunt Linda's smile. Wouldn't you? And if not physical characteristics, how about personality traits? Again, I was an original in the Neidelmen family. My humor and jokes were never understood, I had no head for business, never had as a goal to settle down with one man, the list went on and on.
What a stunner to find that I do have my mother's eyes as well as her sense of humor. How disturbing to one day open your door and see a total stranger looking back at you with your eyes! Which is exactly what happened.
Don't misunderstand. I am ashamed to say I did not welcome this woman with open arms into my life. I treated her shabbily and with considerable resentment. After all, she threatened to upset my life in ways I couldn't fathom, in ways I didn't want to consider. That's right. I sent her packing. Ordered her to never contact me ever again.
Well, if that's how I felt, then why did I cry as I watched her leave? Cry every time I remembered the wounded look on her face, the way her shoulders slumped as if all the air in her body had suddenly escaped? Why did I feel so damned guilty when I rejected this woman's interference in my life?
I resolved not to think of it. To go on with my life as if nothing had happened. Not possible. Was never going to happen. I realized I had to face this problem as an adult. I had to give her a chance. A chance? To do what? Well, I didn't know. I only knew that it took a lot of chutzpah for her to knock on my door and to face my wrath. It took a lot to take my rantings. It took a lot to accept my wishes to be left alone. Not sure I could have done it. Not sure I could've smiled and said, "it's okay, honey, Mommy loves you anyway."
She doesn't know it yet, but I will be calling her. I will get to know her. She is a part of my life and to deny myself of that part would be to cut off my own hands, to numb my mind and close my heart.
I do have my mother's eyes, and I am anxious to discover what other legacies she has given me. It will be scary, I know, but an adventure too.
And so, dear readers, to any of you out there who have discovered family you didn't know you had, I urge you to take the challenge. Know them. Learn from them. Don't send them away, lest they never return.