Let me work backwards on this:
About 3 months ago, I get a text from a person in the Houston area stating that Ancestry. Com had indicated that she and I were “CLOSELY related,” the all caps hers.
I didn’t pick up on those capital letters. I should have.
I blew off the text, and then she left me a voice mail message asking for a call back. I finally decided it was not a salesperson or a political fundraiser, so I gave her a ring and asked what her interest was in the gang of horse thieves and cutthroats from which I had descended. She asked if I knew a woman named “Arly” from my hometown in Louisiana, many years ago, and then I knew what was up. I felt sick.
She explained that this woman, Arly, now 68, had recently told her that she was her mother and that she — Arly — had been in a long term relationship with someone matching my description back in 1972, in Monroe, Louisiana. She — the caller — was the offspring.
I heaved a sigh of relief at that point because I had never been in anything like a “relationship” in those years, and had never lived in Monroe, either. So I could not have been the father, I thought. She persists, though, when I tell her this, and asks hopefully if I perhaps have blue eyes. I heave another sigh of relief because, no, I do not have blue eyes. I secretly recalled in that moment, however, that my mother had hazel eyes, so lord knows what genes I have bouncing around inside. So t!he noose around my neck was alternately tightening and loosening as we continued talking.
If you’re wondering why I was sighing in relief as the story proceeded, instead of jumping for joy to find my long lost child, it’s because I was having visions of having to tell my adult children that they had an older half sister they never knew existed. 1972 was many years before I had met their mother, so there was no infidelity involved (but put an asterisk by that); still, it was awkward. What would my kids and my wife say? What would they ask? How could I have never acknowledged my own child?
This caller reassured me that her mother had never told the father that she was expecting, and instead had run off to Houston to have the baby in secret and give the baby up for adoption. So I was not a dead beat dad, either. The adoptive family was ex-military and professional with plenty of money. The adoption records were and are sealed. Adoption severs legal and familial ties with the biological parents.
Now here’s what really made me nervous, beyond the fact that DNA said that I was her father, regardless of the seeming geographical impossibility. What made me nervous was the revelation that mom had run off to Houston in 1972 to have the baby, you see, because, as the caller explained, “in those days, it was hard for 16 year old girls to tell their parents that they were pregnant.”
Gulp. That was true, but SIXTEEN???
To fast forward, I was only nervous about having committed a criminal act of carnal knowledge for a second or two, because I was by this time simultaneously recalling the image of the mother, Arly, whom I only knew briefly, and no 16 year old was so well developed as the woman I was remembering. She had a job, too. I did some more cross checking and confirmed that the mother was indeed 18.5 on the night of our fateful one night stand. As was I.
(I couldn’t very well say to this caller that “there was no way she was 16!” Since I was at that point denying that I had ever even … you know….)
I gradually came around and acknowledged reality and had a good long distance conference call with her and my wife, who was fascinated by it all and insisting that we should welcome this “child” — who is now 49 y.o. and a prosperous CPA — into the family. We aren’t quite there yet.
Anyway, remember the asterisk by the infidelity part? Well, while I was free and crazy in those years, I remember going to see this woman a few days after our fateful rendezvous, and when I smiled expectantly (“Hey baby what’s up?”), I vividly remember her averting her gaze and extending a long, lovely left arm to show me a diamond ring on her finger, a ring that she had not received from your humble narrator. The ring established that she was in another relationship when she “met” me. I had no idea about the other man,boy really
I guess she was having second thoughts about her engagement.
The ring would have been from the guy ith whom she was in the long term relationship in Monroe, see? So all this time, she appears to have assumed that the father of her child was a different guy. That’s one reason she never notified me. She wasn’t in my face about it. She was actually kind of sheepish and had a hard time looking me in the eye. Anyway, I wished her well and never saw her again. Still haven’t.
The only thing I haven’t explained, because I can’t, is why this woman told her daughter, after being tracked down, that she was 16 when she got pregnant. This was not a mistake, but a lie. Now why would she do that Anyone? Bueller?