I sat dumbfounded on my front steps listening on the phone to somebody who said he was my nephew and he was trying to learn about his grandfather, my dad. It happened just about a year ago and I found myself trying to catch my breath.
Why is this important?
Having a nephew means I had a sister who had the same father as me. We had different moms. She had died a few years earlier in the country of Cyprus. In the process, I learned about two other siblings, brothers, both who had died.
Again, why is this important?
My dad abandoned my mom and me in 1948 by walking out one morning and never coming back. He never called, wrote or anything to indicate that he was alive. This was during a period when social services were less than basic. My mom dug her heels in and took on her responsbility with full force. She was a fighter and she knew how to love without condition.
My dad had an invisible presence that made him a reality everyday. Life for my mom as a single-mom was crushingly hard. She talked about my dad and what he did a lot. To me as a kid, at times, it seemed to be constant. She would get angry and she would cry. She had a hurt that never left her. She carrie it to the day she died.
My nephew put flesh on a family that I never knew. We talked for more than an hour. He had searched to learn about his grandfather, my dad, and for a long time found nothing. He was told that my dad had been killed in a plane crash. His mom, my sister, did not want to talk about him.
Then he Googled my dad's name and found posts I've written on this blog about him and then he emailed me and we talked on the phone within minutes.
The veil had been lifted a little and for a short time. I saw a little of my family on my dad's side.
It's a couple more pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle that covers my life. Fewer pieces are left in the puzzle box. I'm starting to see more of the whole picture. It's been a lifetime of trying to fill a giant-sized hole in my identity.
I've learned that I want my grandchildren, right now, it's just my grandson Xavier and soon to be sister, to know who I am. I want them to know my part of who they came from. It can range from the simple of why Xavier and his mom's chins come in two part. Same with his uncle Justin. It can be the more complex family traits like a temper.
I want him and the others to know. God has laid some unique challenges in my lap. I was never sure how it would turn out. But, I'm getting a sense. Can he and others learn from my story? Can they find something to identify with?
I think so. At least, that is my prayer, God willing.