FAIRBANKS - Vicky Paddock, a 63-year-old disabled veteran, sat alone in her Airport Way apartment, holding her phone.
A private investigator had just provided the name and phone number of the son who Paddock said she was tricked into giving up for adoption in Utah almost 45 years ago.
She felt paralyzed.
What if he says he doesn't like me, Paddock wondered. What if it's not him?
An hour went by before Paddock mustered the nerve to dial. A man answered on the other end.
"Is this Bob?" Paddock asked.
"Is this Vicky?" he answered.
Robert A. Glodowski, born Montgomery Allen Marshall, was expecting the call. The investigator had contacted him first.
"Mom?" he said.
It was the word that Paddock had longed to hear for most of her adult life. She fell apart.
"It's what I felt in my heart," Glodowski said.
The 45-year-old arrived in Fairbanks on Aug. 10 to meet his birth mother, who refuses to call him Bob.
"He doesn't look like a Bob," Paddock said.
In Fairbanks, Glodowski goes by the name he held for only a few months, Monty.
A search begins
Paddock was 17 and living in Montana when she became pregnant. She married the father, who was violent, and fled to California before the baby was born.
"This girlfriend and I just beat feet and made it to Sacramento," Paddock said. "That's where I had the baby."
Soon after, Paddock decided to move back in with her mother and stepfather in Salt Lake City. Paddock's life took an unexpected turn.
Paddock said she was jailed on false accusations of vagrancy and tricked into signing papers allowing her son to be adopted by another family. She was then forced to leave the state, she said.
Paddock made a new life for herself in Las Vegas. She went to bartending school, worked as a card dealer, learned to race cars and eventually joined the U.S. Army, where she learned to cook.
When she returned to Utah in 1970 to see her parents, she knew the subject of Monty's adoption was taboo.
"It was a subject that was not talked about," she said.
In 1990, Paddock was stationed in Alaska and decided to make the state her home. She eventually settled in Joy, a homestead community about 60 miles north of Fairbanks on the Elliott Highway.
Last year, with Paddock's health declining, she moved to Fairbanks to be closer to medical facilities.
All through her adult life, Paddock never forgot about Monty. She hired private investigators. She wrote letters trying to enlist help from Oprah Winfrey, Montel Williams, Ellen DeGeneres and other talk show celebrities, she said. None of it worked.
"You can't give up," Paddock said. "There's something in your heart that tells you he's out there and maybe he's looking for you."
The phone call
Paddock was watching the cable channel WE one day when she came across the show "The Locator," featuring Troy Dunn, who makes a living reuniting long lost loved ones.
Paddock e-mailed the TV show, and she was referred to Florida private investigator Susan Friel-Williams, a protege of Dunn's.
Friel-Williams is based in Cape Coral, Fla. She started Search Quest America in 2008 and said she has reunited hundreds of lost relatives.
"This case kind of tugged at me," Friel-Williams said. "This was Vicky's only child. She had no say in whether he was placed for adoption of not. It's amazing that you can be in an occupation where you can right a wrong that happened in a family."
The fee was $700. Paddock had no money, so her close friend Jean Saverda paid the fee as a gift.
"I said 'Happy birthday. Merry Christmas,'" Saverda said. "There isn't one night that we haven't prayed that God would send Monty to us."
Friel-Williams tracked down Monty's birth records in California, figured out his name had been changed to Robert A. Glodowski, found two adoptees with that name and narrowed it down to Monty, who was living in Salt Lake City.
The first time Friel-Williams called him, she left a message but never heard back.
Glodowski said he'd been through a bad divorce and he figured the private investigator was sent by his ex-wife.
The second time Friel-Williams called, Glodowski answered.
Friel-Williams asked to confirm his name. Glodowski said that depends on who is asking. She knew his birth date and place of birth. She told Glodowski that his birth mother was looking for him.
"It was the weirdest day of my life," Glodowski said.
Friel-Williams wanted to pass on Paddock's telephone number.
"I could not make the phone call," Glodowski said. "I was overwhelmed. I was in a state of shock."
He asked that his birth mother call him.
Glodowski was raised the youngest of three children, by loving parents in Utah, but said he always wondered about his birth parents.
"I told her thank you very much for finding me. I love you," Glodowski said.
He spoke to Paddock on the telephone almost every day until his trip to Fairbanks. His fiance, Leslie Erickson, provided the money for the plane ticket.
Paddock has shown her son the sights, taking him to Pioneer Park and the Tanana Valley State Fair. They also visited Nenana, Joy and they plan on driving to the Arctic Circle.
"It's like we've known each other for years," Glodowski said. "We have totally been laughing our butts off."
"It's like he came home on a visit," Paddock said.
As they sat together in Paddock's apartment and Paddock told the story of her scant few months as a young mother, Glodowski rubbed her back, rested a hand on her leg or hugged her.
Paddock said that when Glodowski e-mailed a picture of himself on the day of their first phone call, any doubt about who he was was wiped from her mind.
"He has my father's hairline," she said.
Saverda, Paddock's friend, said Glodowski also has his mother's gestures. The mother and son have the same sense of humor and they like the same foods.
Glodowski returns to Utah in early September, but he hopes to return for another visit during Christmas.
"It's kind of neat to be called mom," Paddock said. "I've finally got my family back."