For the first time, I saw my birth father’s initials.
No, I wasn’t expecting this name. Actually, I had never heard of the name before. It sounded WASPY.
I don’t know what I had been expecting. But the last thing I expected was to find my birth father. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I might find him, and everything possible crosses this mind.
When I clicked on my DNA matches I stared at the first result for the longest/shortest moment of my life.
Less than a month before I had spat into a tube and sent it to Ancestry as I thought Ancestry would catch the widest net.
But I had let three tubes expire because as much as I wanted to do this, something had been holding me back. Let me be real. I was scared.
Yet I immediately did what any person with the internet would do. I googled the last name, and my birth father’s first initial. Within a few seconds, I was reading his recent obit. Recent: as in several months prior to my clicking on the matches.
My birth mother, the very bitter and nasty-to-me Florence (she tried to be nice but uh…), hadn’t told anyone about me.
Yet somehow she let people assume my birth father was a dissolute abusive alcoholic who had died at 33 of some kind of cancer.
It was good that he died as his children hated him–I spoke to one; and his very Catholic wife was going to divorce him–the year before the Ecumenical Council.
I’m not Catholic but I know that Catholics didn’t get divorced in 1963. It was against all cannon laws. (I think I have that straight).
The man who I thought was my half older birth brother (yes I would have been the product of an affair) had sounded crass, and not like somebody I wanted to know. He told me that he couldn’t wait to visit me so that he and his siblings could go hunting.
Though I live in South Carolina, I despise guns. How could I be related to a family that loves to hunt?
I didn’t know if my real birth family loved to hunt or not. Suddenly I didn’t care. They seemed like people with great interests and values. They seemed like people I would want to know. (All this from an obituary. It was very long and detailed.)
What should I do? It didn’t seem right to get in touch with the people I knew were my half birth siblings so soon after their father died. He was 90 when he died, and from the obit, I could tell how much his family loved him.
My birth father sounded like a truly good man.
I thought and hoped and almost prayed.
I didn’t realize that I would care so much. When I thought the first man was my birth father knowing his family was so unimportant to my life. Yet I had spoken to one child, and maybe that was all I needed. Or maybe I needed more. I had no idea.
How do you measure a man who died at 33, yet his family welcomed the death, against a man who died at 90, yet his family thought that was too soon?
Why was I measuring? I had to put the wrong one out of my mind. But for five or six years I had thought he was the one.
My adoptive father died at 77 and my adoptive mother at 86. I thought they were way too young to die.
From now on my adoptive parents will be referred to as “my mom” and “my dad” because they were, and always will be, my real parents.
In my mind and memories, my dad was the best man I knew: eccentric, funny, brilliant at many things, not so great at some other things. He was the person who had encouraged me to search for my birth mother from the time I was fourteen.
The day I clicked on my DNA results I thought about my parents. My dad would have been over the moon. He thought that anybody related to me had to be incredible. He also couldn’t understand people who didn’t want to know their own life story.
My mom would have been more reticent. She was wiser in some ways and very protective. Though maybe she would have felt different about a birth father than a birth mother. That’s something I wish I knew.
I had to get in touch with my birth family. But I know what it’s like to lose parents. Their mother had died a few years earlier. Probably their father’s fresh death had made their mother’s death new again to them. I had to give them time to grieve.
And let myself remember that just because somebody is your blood relative it doesn’t mean that you’re going to want to know each other. I had to remember that so that I could develop a shield of armor. And figure out what I wanted. Or didn’t want.
Was I just curious? Would this be important to my life? But first would they speak to me? And maybe I should contact Flo’s nephew to see if he knew this family. If he did I might have a way into the family.
This is the beginning of a book and a revised Courting Destiny