On June 2, 2019, my world changed forever. That was the day I discovered that my dad – the man who was there for me at every developmental stage of my life, quietly fulfilling his duties as any dad should, and who did so with a noble, unassuming manner – was not, in fact, my birth father.
I was in shock.
I did not make this discovery on my own. You see, I had been engaged in a peripatetic search for my ancestors using a famous website, and my wife and I decided to do what many others had done and get a DNA test done. This is my roundabout way of getting to the point, so forgive me. Anyway, after we had received the results, a new vista opened up in terms of filling out the family tree, hunting down those reclusive relatives (still going on), and finding others who are presently head over heels excited about meeting me (more about that in a bit).
Along the way, I also discovered and contacted a 3rd cousin. I’ll call her ‘Sue’. She became instrumental after she and I had chatted for a while, exchanged data (more from her side, to be honest), and then there were the phone calls. Sue was a tireless adventurer I discovered. And so it was that on that sunny Sunday mentioned above, my intrepid cousin informed me that there was strong evidence that linked me to a man whose picture she also included in her message. This man – it was also known – knew my mom before and around the time of my birth. I could not deny that I looked just like him. There was documentary proof, visual and plenty of circumstantial evidence that placed him in that singular role of being my father.
What did I feel? I felt displaced, out of synch, and as one who was now unavoidably alone in the universe. And I was hurt. Strangely, I didn’t feel anger. Both my parents have been deceased since the early 90s, and my biological father passed in 2008, so there was no one to be angry with. But questions still remained: What were the actual circumstances surrounding my birth aside from the fact that my paternal lineage was radically different from what I always believed it was? Did my dad know? Did he think I was his son? In my more savage moments I wondered: What else did my parents lie about?
I had a phone conversation with Sue that day. She really stepped up to the plate and comforted me. I still remember saying to her through my tears: “I hardly know you but here I am falling to pieces over the phone.” Her unwavering position was that I should just remember that my mom was only a woman of her day, making tough decisions, and the man who raised me – my dad – genuinely loved me, and that he was the one who was there for me all along the way. I knew what she said was true.
So here I am, more than a year after those revelations, and now ready to go to Texas – my wife also excited for this journey, as my traveling companion extraordinaire – to meet my aunt and uncle, four cousins and their families, and of course, Sue, who will always be what I call “the gatekeeper.” I go to meet those I never knew existed, who share my blood, depositories of memories yet to be told. I go to a land – my own ‘Bountiful’ to mine the riches of undreamed treasures and shared laughter and conversation. I go with hope and a renewed sense of who I am. I retain my love for my parents, of course. They did what they to do, and they did provide me with a stable and secure home in which to grow. But now the horizon has widened, and I will delve deeply into what beckons, bringing it all in together into the constellation of my mind, memory and spirit.
If what French poet and writer, Anatole France said was true when he wrote, “To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything”, then I have moved from a shadow land into the bright light of possibility. What I thought was true was found to be false yet not a fatality for my spirit. But with the addition of new truths, there comes also opportunities for life and love. There is, in fact, much more ahead in life. And I am more equipped than ever to discover exactly what that is. And the pic at the head of this post is not a picture of any known relative’s dwelling. It is being used for artistic purposes alone. Upon my return, I’m sure there will be genuine pics of “in life” places and perhaps, people. Certainly I have not written my last words on this topic, but that which remains shall be imbued with a lived in sense of comfort and happiness. It’s all good, and it has all been worth it to have come this far.