One night, he moved his chair through the alcove that separated our desks and sat beside me. Behind him one of the posters that were plastered over most of the walls in our offices was in my direct line of vision. It was a picture of a howling kitten clinging to a thick rope, and it read, “When you get to the end of your rope … tie a knot and hang on.” Ted sat there silently for a moment or two as we sipped coffee companionably. Then he looked down at his hands and said, “You know, I only found out who I really am a year or so ago. I mean, I always knew, but I had to prove it to myself.” I looked at him, a little surprised, and waited for the rest of the story. ”I’m illegitimate. When I was born, my mother couldn’t say that I was her baby. I was born in a home for unwed mothers and, when she took me home, she and my grandparents decided to tell everyone that I was her brother, and that they were my parents. So I grew up believing that she was my sister, that I was a ‘late baby’ born to my grandparents.”
He paused, and looked at the sheets of rain that washed over the windows in front of us. I didn’t say anything; I could tell he had more to say. “I knew. Don’t ask me how I knew. Maybe I heard conversations. Maybe I just figured out that there couldn’t be twenty years’ difference in age between a brother and a sister, and Louise always took care of me. I just grew up knowing that she was really my mother.”
"Did you ever say anything?"
He shook his head. “No. It would have hurt them. It just wasn’t something you talked about. When I was little, we moved away — Louise and I — and left my grandparents behind. If they were my mother and father, we wouldn’t have done that. I went back east in 1969. I needed to prove it to myself, to know for sure. I traced my birth back to Vermont, and I went to the city hall, and I looked at my records. It wasn’t difficult; I just asked for my birth certificate under my mother’s name — and there it was”
"How did you feel? Were you shocked, or upset?"
"No. I think I felt better. It wasn’t a surprise at all. It was like I had to know the truth before I could do anything else. And when I saw it there on the birth certificate, then I’d done that. I wasn’t a kid. I was twenty-two when I found out for certain."
"They lied to you. Did it seem like they deceived you?"
"No. I don’t know."
"People lie out of love too, you know," I said. "Your mother could have let you go — but she didn’t. She did the best she could. It must have seemed the only thing she could do to keep you with her. She must have loved you very much."
He nodded and said softly, “I know….I know.”
"And look at you now. You turned out pretty good. In fact, you turned out great."
He looked up and smiled. “I hope so.”
"I know so."
- Ann Rule, Ted Bundy - The Stranger Beside me.
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