My Mother Was a Mail-Order Bride: The American

This is Part III of My Mother Was A Mail-Order Bride. You can find Part I here and Part II here

He arrived to Lithuania in a fashionable but very thin coat. It was February, one of the coldest and miserable months in Lithuania. He chose to travel in the off-season to save some money on air tickets. He paid for it dearly, freezing in his fashionable American coat; taking baths in a cold bathroom with almost no heating because Lithuania was going through such troubled economic times; walking in an ice storm to an organ music concert, and falling on the ice.

Staying with the Family

When my mother decided to give one last chance to an American man, she just wanted to get the whole mail-order bride ordeal over with, and move on with her life. My grandfather, who still was harboring some hope for a brighter and better future for his daughter, suggested we extend our hospitality to the American by offering him to stay with us.

The reason behind such an outrageous idea was that this particular man was coming to see not three, not four or six women at the same time, but just one, my mother. I still don’t know what my mom managed to write him in her letters, but he was coming to spend time with my mother only. It was a huge advantage in my grandfather’s mind that required some extreme actions.

My mother and I were horrified by this idea. A stranger was going to stay with us, sleep in our apartment, eat with us, and use the same tiny bathroom. We had two rooms: one was mine, one was my mother’s. There was no living room, no dining room. Our small kitchen was our dining area.

We did not think that any sane man would accept our invitation. Wouldn’t you be scared to stay with a strange family, with people you never met, in a country that just yesterday represented your Cold War enemy? Imagine our shock, when he said that he liked the idea and would be staying with us!

I immediately pictured the American getting up in the middle of the night, pulling out his American sharp axe, and, with a sadistic smile, slaughtering us. I did express this concern to my grandfather. He reluctantly admitted that a nighttime slaughtering was a remote but viable risk, and said that he will stay with us for the duration of the stranger’s visit.

The American 

When the American arrived, I did not like him. He looked out of place, smiling cheerfully in the cold and icy Lithuanian weather, in the unwelcoming airport, in the cab, in our small and cold apartment. The smile did not diminish a bit even after observing our pre -World War II toilet. The American was way too smiley for my liking.

We found out much later that he did not sleep the first few nights in our apartment. Not because he was jet lagged, or the bed was too firm and too short for his tall 6 feet plus body. He did not sleep because he was thinking that he might be chopped up for a Russian borsch by two women and a skinny old man, my grandfather. I guess, in the night, thousands of miles away from the U.S., the idea of staying with unknown people did not seem too appealing.

I didn’t like him for a long time, right until the moment when he slipped on the ice and landed face down in the snow. There was something very human and very touching about him, laying spread out on the snow, and laughing his ass off. From there, things between us picked up.

My mother, who was tired of all American men by the time our guest arrived, did not care much if he liked her and what he thought about her. She did not put too much effort into getting to know him. She was exhausted mentally and emotionally.

They could barely talk to each other, mostly with the help of a translation dictionary. However, with time she started to warm up to him. After all, the man deserved a lot of credit for simply:

  • staying with us for two weeks in spite of the rough winter conditions;
  • getting through my mother’s broken English and obvious indifference;
  • surviving my openly hostile looks and snippy comments;
  • saying he liked our cold apartment, and arguing with us when no one believed him;
  • adjusting to the constant absence of hot water;
  • enjoying our murky and unhappy looking city that offered icy wind, snow and no sun.

He definitely was not what we expected.

Closer to the end of his visit, my mom started to spend increasingly more time with the American, taking him to concerts, museums, and just walking around the city. It was interesting to watch them trying to talk to each other, laughing while looking up words in the dictionary, and then just looking at each other, and smiling. It was obvious by the end of the visit, they did somehow manage to find a common language, even if it was not quite your ordinary English.

Why He Wanted a Mail-Order Bride

Remember the types of men I mentioned in Part II? He was a complicated mixture of Type 1 and Type 3. He was disappointed with his relationships with American women mostly because he was looking for a traditional marriage where a spouse provides love, comfort and care alongside with cooking and cleaning.

He was not looking for a woman who, like so many of us, tried to have it all: marriage, career, children and a social life. All he wanted was a companion with the same values and goals, with the same understanding of life and the same appreciation for each other.

He did find it all in my mother. She, in turn, found much more in him: responsibility, kindness, security, stability and, most importantly, love.

The End of the Story

They wrote many letters to each other. My mother would spend long hours hunched over the dictionary, composing letters. He came a few more times to Lithuania before popping the question.

They got married in Lithuania, and he left to the U.S. alone. The process of getting a visa even when you were already married was very long and exhaustive. My mother had to go to Poland for an interview at the U.S. consulate. The U.S. consulate in Lithuania did not provide these type of services. He came back for her months later, when she got all the required documentation and was allowed to enter the United States as his wife.

My mother left in 1993, and never looked back. Twenty years later, they are still together. Love, after all, can always find a way.

54 thoughts on “My Mother Was a Mail-Order Bride: The American”

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. You always hear the bad stories about these situations, so it’s nice to hear that it worked out for your mom 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for sharing the story. I’m a huge sucker for happy endings. I’m so glad everything worked out so well for your mom.

  3. This is fascinating! I really haven’t heard a lot of stories, good or bad, about mail order brides and it is so interesting to hear your story! My sister was set up through friends with a guy from New Zealand and they ended up falling in love and getting married and she moved there. She didn’t exactly advertise herself as looking but the two stories have some striking similarities. I wonder what she’d say about that… 🙂

  4. What a great ending! I love it. Long distance relationships are very difficult and I’m very glad your mom made it work.
    I think it’s perfectly valid to try to find love anyway you can.

  5. Hooray.. A Happy Ending!.. It’s crazy sometimes how people find each other.. So happy that it worked out.

    As crazy as all of that was for your mother and her new husband from a distant land. It must have been even crazier for you.

    1. Hahaha! Yes, that year came and passed in a fog like a dream. Sometimes I still cannot believe that all of this indeed happened to us.

  6. This is a lovely story! And you are right – you never know how or where you will find love. I met my husband by putting an advert in a magazine and he was supposed to be only for fun – and just till I had finished all I needed to finish in the UK and head back. Twenty years later and having raised three boys (two his and one ours) we are still having fun.

    1. Love your story as well. Sometimes when we think some things are temporary, they stay with us for a very long time. 🙂

  7. Your American step father sounds like a wonderful man and your mother must have a connection with fate to have accepted his visit even in her exhaustion and disillusionment. Awesome story! And I can imagine all the stress and doubts after the marriage while your mom was waiting to get her visa, because I’ve been through the same thing while waiting 6 months for my wife to get her US visa. Tough times, but well worth it.

  8. AWW!! So sweet. I’m so glad your mom found love and a happy ending, and so glad your step father did too! He sounds like a sweet man as well.

  9. Was it common at the time that Americans were chopped up for a Russian borsch? 🙂 I think that a bit of worry existed on both sides for good reason, but obviously your grandfather was right, there was a chance, but it was remote. I’m so glad things worked out for you all!

    1. Yes, we ate Americans for dinner all the time. 😉 The worry was there, but thankfully the possibility was remote.

  10. “He reluctantly admitted that a nighttime slaughtering was a remote but viable risk” – don’t know why, but this line cracked me up. Maybe I could hear your grandfather’s heavy accent in your written words…

    I think you need a part 4, a question and answer segment for all of us readers!

  11. Karunesh @

    You are very good at writing fiction 🙂

    thanks for a happy ending. I was not expecting that

  12. He did not sleep because he was thinking that he might be chopped up for a Russian borsch by two women and a skinny old man, my grandfather. <— bwhwhwhahaha!

    I think you both took a risk that worked out beautifully. 🙂

  13. Analytical Planner

    I love this story. I just had to come back to read the third part. I enjoyed your storytelling style. 🙂

  14. Young Professional Finances

    Wow, what a moving story! Your mother sounds like a very brave and strong person – all which I’m sure made its way to you. Congratulations to her for getting a happy ending!

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  16. Kari@Small Budget Big Dreams

    Sometimes you have to take a risk to see if things will work, otherwise you’ll live the rest of your life wondering “what if”. I’m so glad everything worked out for you and your mom.

    1. In fact, I did! I am contemplating it to be honest. I just need to find time to sit down and actually do it.

    1. My grandmother is still alive. I actually visited her last September. She will be 87 this year. My grandfather died a while ago.

  17. Aloysa,
    An interesting story! I’m moved by them being together forever!your grandfather inspired me with his optimism and persuasiveness. As a father of [twin] girls, I could relate with his feelings!

    An inspiring love story!

  18. This story is really personal, thanks so much for opening up and sharing it. I have a hard time thinking love will work out, but reading this gives me hope. Sometimes the beginning may be rocky, but in the end it all works out.

    1. I think it all depends on personal experience. Sometimes it never works out. Sometimes it does.

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  22. I really enjoyed the story, and so happy that it worked out for your mother. Funny how each side was afraid the other would chop them up in the middle of the night! 😉

  23. That is amazing. My uncle found his new love overseas. He began talking with a woman from the Dominican Republic via the internet and then he began visiting her and now she moved to the US and they just got married. It really seems to be true love for him. It just goes to show that you can’t just stereo type every situation. It is a very touching story. I am glad that it worked out for your mother and you!

  24. What an incredible story. I would have been scared to death in your mother’s shoes to find any kind of psychopaths or weird people. But on the topic of arranged marriages, I think this is not such a crazy idea after all. We want the big passion, to be swept off our feet and that is fine but over the long term most working marriages are based on a life arrangement. Working together towards a goal, a certain life… we should all set those bases clearly before getting married. They started by defining the end goal and then fell in love, sounds logical since they were already ready to support each other for the years to come.

  25. This story of your mom echoes the story of my own wife of 18 years quite a bit. What is different is that I spoke Spanish some already, and we lived a mere 6 hours away from each other, she in Mexico with me, an Anglo, living in the US.

    Lesson for all, one should never imagine that the motivations of those involved in international affairs of this nature will be evil and exploitative. Quite often you will be completely wrong if you were to have this assumption. Today, in my own case, we remain a happy family with me planning to soon retire in Mexico or another Latin American country. Our 17 y/o daughter will most likely go to university outside the US where it will be much cheaper for her, not to mention much more interesting and educational. It could not have worked out better for us three!

  26. What a grand story . In a dream this story is our happy ending . Congrats on finding the only thing u get to take with you when u die . And thanks for the hope . Its nice to know its real . (Love)

  27. Hello. I really liked your story. Sounds very similar to mine and my mothers. Thank you for writing it, it makes me feel like I am not the only one who went through this. My mother too, was a mail order bride. Although it didn’t work out for her as well as it did for your mom. She ended up filing for a divorce herself and is now very happy without him. He was a definition of a bully. And although it has been years ago (15) I still have a very hard time talking about it. It’s almost like I am embarrassed to tell people how I ended up in United States. I constantly find myself lying about it or making up stories because I am scared of their judgemental stares and words. I moved when I was 13, and although I am a grown woman now, I still feel uncomfortable talking about it, like it was I who was the mail order bride. Sometimes I feel resentful that she had made that choice. I give you a lot of credit for being so open, I wish I had enough courage to do the same..

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  29. I would like to thank you for posting your mom’s story. I realize so much has changed in the mail order bride industry since the early 90’s. I am myself involved in a mail order bride relationship. Though we do talk on the internet when we can. And with emails. I think this is the major difference between now and the 90’s communications are a bit more instant. However the same issues between languages and traveling to an unknown foreign country still exist. When I left the United States most all of my Family had never even heard to of the Ukraine. Not to mention me taking a job in a war zone just to be able to pay for it. Though there are some members of my family that where against me coming. But there where a few that where optimistic enough to encourage me to go through with it. Though mom being a mom, insisted that I travel there with at minimum and international calling plan on a cell phone. Which turned out to be a little useful on that first trip. Now having made four trips there in the past year, it is not that big of a deal. even if there is a war going on in the Ukraine now. Though that wasn’t a big deal after all I live in a war zone. I am accustomed to getting shot at, the scary part is it isn’t all that scary. Just when the rockets come it does it get scary which isn’t all that often.

    My Fiancee’s name is Tatiana, admittedly she was anxious the first time i came there. Which was a year almost to the day that we started talking on the internet. I can say it has been a different process trying to learn how to date in a different culture. Though my story is still ongoing, I feel that I understand a little more what Tatiana is going through and what she will face. And it gives me direction as to what I need to teach her. Though driving was at the top of my list, along with buying a car. Mostly because I don’t want to be a chauffeur.

  30. Aloysa, Thank you for posting your story. I found it VERY fascinating. I am not seeking a bride, and I have never visited a website that offers the service. But if I was, this story would help me to feel more secure in the decision.
    I am glad your mom found love, and it sounds like you, too, are married, so she not only changed her life and yours…. but your husband’s too. What a great story. thank you, again.

  31. Fawning comments above, written as if to the child you were, and soppy based on the romantic aspect.

    Odd that you chose women’s studies as your mother’s daughter, though it does show in the 5-types-of-suitors list; else it is unexpectedly devoid of the expected mail bride fem howls. Rather an contradictory degree(W.S.), in that it gives no marital skills (but for subterfuge), yet keeps you from wholeheartedly embracing a traditional role.

    Bystander’s view of the union is interesting, but your mother’s direct narrative would have been much more compelling. Perhaps your next missive might be of the impact of the above (parent’s union vis W.S.) on your own unions. ‘Feminist or Bitch’ gives a hint, though the text didn’t follow the title’s promise of exploration of the dichotomy.

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