“I love to hear him talk,” I said to my husband last night. I had come in from running three miles, and when I walked into the house, I heard Gene and his biological father, Bill, on speaker phone, wrapping up a short conversation. “His voice sounds like your voice, but it is a little older and has some of that Texas tone to it.”
We both smiled. We are coming up on the oneyear anniversary of my husband finding a half brother in Texas — a discovery that led him to his biological mother, Margaret, who had carried the secret of Gene’s birth and adoption in her broken heart for 59 years. She identified Gene’s biological father last November, but Gene didn’t reach out right away. Instead, we focused our attention on getting to know his maternal family first.
Then on a sunny Saturday afternoon in late January, Gene sent an email to his biological father, Bill. The email was similar to the one he had sent to his mother noting, “I have no bitterness, animus or judgment for you — only love and gratitude for giving me life.” He included photos and asked for the opportunity to meet him and possibly get to know him.
Bill called him at 3:30 that same afternoon. The conversation lasted about 45 minutes, as Bill shared small pieces of his life with a newly found son. He lives north of Dallas with his wife, Laura. At 80, he still works fulltime in construction — building and remodeling homes. He has four other children, lots of grandchildren and some great-grandchildren. He has no pressing health issues or concerns. He had played football in college (Oklahoma and Texas A& M) and studied chemical engineering until he shifted into finance. He flew Caribou cargo planes in Vietnam for the Air Force. He loves golden retrievers. And he’s a man of faith saying, “I believe that God directs everything in our lives.”
Bill and Laura saw the photos attached to the email and noticed the uncanny resemblance of the two men. Toward the end of the conver- continued from page
sation, he said, “If you are my son, and I think you are, I’m happy about this and want to meet you and get to know you.”
Bill ordered a DNA test from Ancestry.com to remove all doubt from the equation. It took over a month to get the genetic confirmation, but when it came in March, they invited us to Texas to meet in person. Four or five days later, we were on another airplane flying back to another part of Texas to meet another part of Gene’s biological family.
They welcomed us in the driveway with open arms. As I hugged Laura on one side of the car, Gene and Bill hugged on the other side of the car, and I heard Bill say, “Welcome home, son.” Minutes later, we sat across a dining room table from them and studied Bill’s handsome face — a face that looks so much like Gene’s.
They are both quiet men (men of few words), extraordinarily intelligent men, and deep thinking men. They are both kind, caring and considerate. They share mannerisms and facial expressions. They also share a unique sense of humor and interestingly, a love of carrots.
And I feel that his wife, Laura, and I are kindred spirits, too. Is it strange that a father and son would choose to share their lives with women who also have similarities? Well, of course not. The visit concluded with plans to meet up again at Amelia Island in June, which we did.
As with Gene’s maternal side of the family, we are blown away by the love and acceptance of these new people in our lives — strangers no more, but family. We know that not every story ends this way, and so every day, we give thanks for these new, beautiful relationships. We feel fortunate and better in some way. We feel joyful. We feel whole.
But back to the phone conversation … I love to hear Bill’s voice, and I love to see Bill’s face. It’s like moving forward in a time machine to hear and see Gene twenty years from now. And amid the oddness of this familiarity, I am reminded of the complex interplay of nature and nurture in shaping one’s identity. Most of all, I see so clearly that some of life’s beauty lies in its unpredictability, for we never truly know what gifts tomorrow will deliver, until tomorrow is here.