The White Roses would like to introduce to our readers the talented Pittsburgh writer and voice over artist Hana Haatainen Caye. Hana’s copywriting and voice over agency SPEECHLESS serves the needs of individuals world-wide.
We are happy to have Hana join us today. Please leave her comments and questions.
BIO: HANA HAATAINEN CAYE
Hana is a talented and versatile writer and voice over artist with over thirty years’ experience.
Voice over services:
A trained actress and public speaker
IVR systems and messages on hold
Radio and television commercials
On hold messages
Personal or business letters
Editing and proofreading:
Many websites and publications, including
the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series
The Clear Choice
Welcome, Hana. Could you tell us when you first started writing?
I’ve been writing since elementary school. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I started out with simple poems, like:
Who has Lou’s
She needs two.
I’ve since developed that short poem into a picture book.
I double-majored in Creative Writing and Theatre Arts in college, after being honored with my high school’s Creative Writing Award and Best Actress Award my senior year, so the writing just continues to evolve.
I would like to talk about one of your earlier writings, The Nickel Story, published in Chicken Soup for Grieving Soul in 2003. What was that story about?
It was a wonderful story about an elderly couple that attended my church. When Frank met Susan, she was a young widowed mother and he vowed to win her heart. She walked past him while he was playing pinball and caused the machine to tilt so he told her she owed him a nickel. Shortly before he died, after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, Frank gave that very same nickel to our minister and instructed him to give it to Susan at the funeral. “Tell her I’ll be waiting by the pinball machine,” was his message to his bride. It’s a moving story and I was honored to have it published in the Chicken Soup series.
Hana, you’ve had your share of heartache in your life, including the loss of your first husband in an explosion. Isn’t it true many people thought The Nickel Story was written about your life?
Well, not actually. Of course, when they heard I was being published in the Grieving Soul anthology, they jumped to that conclusion. However, the story doesn’t reflect my loss in any way.
My husband was killed in an industrial fire, surviving only 23 hours with third-degree burns on 98% of his body. He was 34 at the time and we had two young daughters.
How do you heal from such a horrendous loss?
There’s a simple one-word answer to that: Grace. God’s amazing, all-encompassing Grace. It was a long road, but I never walked it alone.
And you eventually met and married a wonderful man, and together, you have five adult daughters. But something from your past haunted you, something you prayed for and hoped for with all your heart. Could you share with us what that was, Hana?
Before I started dating my first husband, Jim, I got pregnant to another man. I was 22 and living alone in Pittsburgh. Without family here for support, I decided to surrender my child for adoption. During my pregnancy, however, I started dating Jim. Even though we planned to be married the following year, I still decided it was best for everyone involved that I go through with the adoption.
I chose a family from profiles I was given, knowing only a few details about them, and not knowing their name.
I gave birth to a beautiful, perfect 7 lb. 12 oz. baby girl, lovingly cared for her in the hospital, prayed over her, sang her lullabies, and then handed her to a nurse three days later. That was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. I was so in love with her. I’d journaled to her throughout my pregnancy and beyond; journal entries expressing such love and deep loss.
Jim and I married less than one year later. Three days after our first anniversary, I gave birth to another baby girl, followed by a third one two years later. But my heart still ached for the one I gave away. My precious Meagan Rae.
Through the years, my other daughters were raised knowing about their older sister. They were with me each year as I grieved the loss of her on her birthday. I would by a card, write a note to her, seal it, and stash it away, in hopes of being able to share it with her someday. I would also buy a birthday cake, light candles and we’d sing Happy Birthday to the empty chair. Her birthday’s were heart-breaking days for me. How I longed to hold her one more time.
When I signed over the rights to my daughter, I also signed a form stating that if, when she was 18, she wished to find me, they could release my information. As her 18th birthday approached, I became consumed with hope of a reunion. I prayed fervently and waited by the phone. But her 18th birthday came and went. As did her 19th, 20th, 21st, and so on. Part of me would fall into deep depressions as I wondered why she hadn’t bothered to find me. I signed up on all the Internet sites for reunions, posting all the information she needed in case she was searching and didn’t know to go back to the agency. At times, I was almost desperate in my longing.
And God eventually answered your prayers, interceding through The Nickel Story. Readers would love to be inspired by your touching story. How did God reunite you and your daughter through your writing?
One Sunday, a couple of weeks past her 23rd birthday, I submitted an anonymous prayer request during our church service. It simply read Pray for Meagan to find her birthmother. The following Friday night, I spent a few hours scouring the Internet in hopes she’d registered somewhere looking for her birthmother. Discouraged, I turned off my computer and went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. It was one a.m. I looked in the mirror, with tears running down my face, and said, “Meagan, where are you? Why can’t you find me?”
At the same time, 10 miles away, my daughter’s adoptive mother was working on her computer. Suddenly, my name flashed through her mind, so she typed it into a search engine. Twenty-three years before this particular night, she read my name upside-down on the adoption papers. Being that my name has a unique spelling, she never was able to remember exactly how it was spelled. But as she entered it into her computer, an article appeared and she knew she had found me. She immediately phoned her daughter, who was out for the evening, and told her to come home. “I found her,” she explained. “I found your birthmom!”
The two of them stayed up all night, waiting for the right time to call me. At 8:15 a.m. my phone rang and I heard an unfamiliar voice start talking about a story I’d written for Chicken Soup for the Soul and an article the Post Gazette ran about me. I was annoyed at the early hour of the call on a Saturday morning and was ready to hang up on her when I heard her say, “I think I’m your daughter.”
I can’t even imagine the whirlwind of emotions storming through your head when you heard your daughter’s voice for the first time after so many years. Can you put those feelings into words?
When I realized what was happening, all I could say was, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.” I don’t take that phrase lightly and rarely say it. My youngest daughter came running downstairs to find out what was wrong. Through my tears I told her, “It’s Meagan. It’s Meagan.” She immediately burst into tears herself and ran upstairs to get her cell phone to call her sister, who was at work. My husband, Bill, asked what was going on and came running downstairs to see for himself. After 45 minutes of everyone getting on the phone and talking to her and to her mom, we agreed to meet at 1:00 that afternoon.
It was a magical meeting. Both families coming together to celebrate a life given and a life cared for. I cannot adequately describe my feelings, but I can say that October 11, 2003 was the best day of my life. The joy was beyond belief. Holding her again (although she’s a good two inches taller than me!), seeing the joy on my children’s faces as they embraced their sister for the first time, and finally experiencing an answered prayer that was as much as part of me as every breath I take. Indescribable.
One final question. Do you have any inspiring words or a quote to leave us with before you leave?
Wow. Everything that comes to mind seems so cliché. I guess the bottom line is to never give up on your dreams. Whether it’s to finally see your name in print or to find what you’ve been looking for nearly all of your life, dreams do come true. Prayers are answered. Joy can be complete. Sometimes it just takes a little longer than we hoped it would.
Thank you for joining us, Hana. As many times as I’ve heard this story, it never fails to send chills racing down my spine. Hana placed her burden in God’s hands and never stopped believing. Just like the white roses blooming in our garden, FAITH is the cornerstone of love.
Read The Nickel Story and more on Hana’s website: http://www.speechless.sitesvp.com/.
Hana Haatainen Caye
Writer bringing out the best in words!
Voice Talent adding LIFE to all your audio projects!