Sunday, July 20, 2014

Family Matters

This weekend my mom and I went down to visit my dad's side of the family.  It was a three hour trip that took four hours both going and coming.  But to me and my mom the almost 24 hours that we spent with our other family is just the beginning of reconnecting a family that has been separated for years.

Allow me to explain.  This was an important trip for me.  My mom and dad were high school sweethearts.  both grew up in the same city.  A former factory town without its factory has now become a shell of it what it used to be.  To me going back to this city is always depressing.  It kind of reminds me of those parts of Baltimore that you could see used to be great but have been abandoned years ago.  Anyway, growing up I only was able to see my dad's side of the family around Christmas.  We lived in the Midwest and the rest of the family was on the East Coast.  Any family besides my mom and dad seemed like a countless stream of magical family members.  It was hard for me to keep up with the faces and the names enough to really have much of a connection with anyone.

Then my dad passed away.  Suddenly the real person who linked us all together was out of the picture.  Communicating with my "countless stream of magical family members" seemed awkward.  As the years went by the awkwardness continued to grow.  Combined with the fact that my mom has very little of her long term memory left, it has been hard to find out more information about my dad and his family.  It felt like the only memories that she had were from me.  And some of those memories were from the point of view from one very imaginative child.

I always felt like there was a part of my life that was missing.  For many years I always wondered why I looked the way I did. And one day I felt that my questions had been answered when I found my dad's birth certificate.  On the certificate it stated that his father was from Hawaii.  I had figured it out.  I was Hawaiian!  Made perfect sense. This finally explained my curly hair, my reddish skin tone when I tanned, and the fact that I love pineapple and Hawaiian bread (just kidding on the last two).  I brought this information to my grandmother (my mom's mother) she told me that she didn't think that really was his father and that only my dad knew who his father was.  I was heartbroken.  I was going to continue to be a mutt.  But I realized then that I had more than a few unanswered questions.

So between the passing of my father, and my uncle (his brother), and the invent of Facebook I knew what I had to do.  It was time to really make an effort getting to know more about my dad's family.  The trip this weekend was part of the beginning stages of this process.

The weekend was amazing.  It was short, yes, both my mom and I learned a lot about my dad and his family. Some of it was happy.  I heard so many funny stories.  And some of it was sad.  It was sad to see the struggles that his family had.  But I was happy to know how much my aunt and uncle looked up to him, much like I look up to him as well.  My dad, despite some of the unfortunate circumstances in his life turned out to be this amazing person, amazing husband, amazing father, and amazing brother.  And it just made me tear up to think that I am no longer able to have this amazing person in my life.

I was also sad to confirm that I might never know who was my real dad's father.  It is a piece of my history that may always remain a mystery.  However, I am so glad and blessed that I have living history only a short four hour trip that should only be three hours away.  A special shot out to my aunt who is one of my number one fans!  Thank you for the first step of many in strengthening this bond.

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