Renaissance Man

I wrote previously that I had triangulated the identity of my father through my DNA matches, but I never had to even bring that up to my mother. He was the first thing she wanted to talk about the first time we talked. High school sweethearts – they were both 17 when I was born – but as she talked I came to understand that  it was more than just puppy love. I truly believe they were soul mates, even though they never found a way to be together. I indulge a bit of guilty feelings on occasion, because surely the trauma of having me was part of the reason she was unable to resume their relationship, and then ensuing circumstances (Vietnam, his college, her marriage, his death) meant it never was to be.

There is a certain pleasure I feel in the story, too, tragic though it is. I like to think I came out of that kind of deep love. When I found out I was adopted I had to accept the very real possibility that my conception could have been due to any number of horrible or just awkward scenarios. I am glad for my own story. I seem to be describing myself as lucky a lot, but I can’t see any other way to describe it.

The paths to knowing my mother are already well established, but as consuming (and delightful) as that is I have also the desire to know my father, as best as I am able. Unfortunately all of his immediate family are dead. Knowing that most of them died before he did I got to wondering about his personal effects. He earned medals in Vietnam and surely there were other things that anyone who cared about him would never have disposed of. I thought perhaps if he had a girlfriend she might have a box of his things sitting in her attic that she, having surely moved on 20 years later, would be happy to give to me. So the game was afoot again. I scoured my resources for possible associates of his and two names kept coming up – a woman’s name, and a man with his last name that is 5 years younger than me. The woman’s name was also listed with his last name, so I thought perhaps she was his wife and he was their son.

The report I pulled on the man listed five phone numbers. I was shocked that it was as hard to call them as it was. I was literally quaking with fear when I dialed the first time… only to be met with a ‘disconnected line’ announcement. Same with the next three. By the fifth time I dialed the abject terror had calmed down quite a bit, but my heart was still pounding. A woman answered the phone- I believe his wife- and I thought, oh geez – she’s going to think I’m some affair or something. I gave my name and asked if I could speak to him and she wanted to know what it was about. I told her I was trying to get in touch with someone who might have known this person, and gave his name and San Francisco. She made some skeptical sounding noises, then I heard a man’s voice. He had either just picked up an extension or had been on the line all the time. She agreed to let him handle it and hung up her line (or not? Doesn’t matter.).

I explained again that I was trying to find someone who knew Larry. He wanted to know why, and there I was struck dumb. I was so afraid he was going to hang up. I finally blurted out something to the effect of, “I’m his daughter. I just found out that I was adopted a little over a month ago, and I’m in contact with my mother and I know he’s my father and I’m just really hoping I can learn more about him.” At least, that’s what I am hoping I communicated. There’s no telling what actual words spilled out. I am much more eloquent on the page than I am speaking. But, however poorly I communicated, he accepted it enough to say, “I didn’t really know him very well. You probably should talk to my father.” So much for my theory that he was my half-brother. He asked for my contact information and told me he’d call me back after he’d discussed it with his father. I agreed and thanked him profusely.

Ten minutes later the phone rang. It was my cousin, and he had conferenced in his mother and father, my great aunt and uncle. We talked for well over an hour, and they were so warm and gracious that even now I tear up a bit thinking about it. As luck would have it, my great uncle was with my father when he died, and has that box of stuff I was looking for. He is planning to send it to me, and my cousin is planning to scan pictures to send when he visits over Christmas. They even invited me to visit next time I am in the area.

As to the woman that was associated with him, it may be that they were married but even if they were it was short-lived and unhappy. My great uncle and aunt talked about visiting her one time after he died, and how she had nothing but bad things to say about my father. They were very uncomfortable and have not spoken with her since.

It may be that I am weaving an elaborate tale of true love for my parents because it pleases me to do so, but through the tidbits of information I have gathered it seems to me that he, too, never found another that could replace my mother. It is such a bittersweet feeling for me.

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