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On a sunny L.A. day in 1976, my mother looks me in the eye for a few long seconds, presses her lips together, and leans forward. ‘What if I told you that you were adopted?’
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"It’s Friday, and we’re having lunch at the Hamburger Hamlet on Hollywood Boulevard, the one right off La Brea. In high heels and a skirt suit with a low-cut blouse, she’s on her lunch break. She’s the head of the children’s department at a talent agency across the street. In flip-flops, faded blue jeans and a T-shirt, I’ve come across town from a session with my shrink.
"'I wouldn’t believe you,' I pretty much snort, leaning back and crossing my arms in front of me. 'I know you’re my mom.' To my lifelong dismay, our resemblance is unmistakable. Even now, we both sit with our legs crossed at the knee, one ankle hooked behind the other.
"A pause. 'Well, sure, Barb, I’m your mom,' she says, 'but Daddy isn’t your real father.'

"I stare at her for a moment as the words begin to sink in. I have the distinct impression of brightening light, as if the sun has just moved out from behind a cloud.

"We’re sitting across the table from each other. To anyone else we’re just two women having lunch. Although there might have been a subtle change in our body language, there’s no crying or shouting or gesturing to betray the immensity of her revelation. But all around me, thought bubbles explode. No wonder. . . No wonder. . . No wonder. . . And then, Ah, so that explains everything! Even though I hadn’t known there was anything to explain.

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I knew I would write this book some day. I don't know why it took me so long to begin, but one day it was time, and the words came tumbling out. Still, it wasn't always easy.

Turning to my memorabilia and to favorite treasures that have been with me for most of my life, my hope was that, symbiotically, like flint and kindling, they would spark memory, and I would in turn infuse them with new life.

Using words and visual art to tell the story—photographs, sketches, paintings, and collage—gave me exquisite freedom of expression. Alone, neither felt complete. Together, each form played off the other; when words failed me, I turned to the visuals, and vice versa. Together they speak from both my intellect and my heart.