Last year, my sister was supposed to get married, and when I had an overnight layover in Dallas, I stayed with her. We were up most of the night talking and catching up on our lives, and it suddenly hit me that we don’t know if we have family on our dad’s side that might cross her path since she lives in Texas.. So I made a vow to search for any family that still resides in Texas or still living period. Now this was a task I started years ago, but kept running into dead ends, so this time I was more determined than ever to locate my uncle, and any aunts still living.
My dad passed away in 1997, and all I had to go on were the names my mom gave me and a city in Texas called Linden. I got online and started trying to google the names of an aunt and uncle and even logged onto ancestry.com.. I searched for a month straight and kept running into disconnected numbers and I was getting frustrated. I was at work one day and on my lunch break, I told myself I was going to find at least one valid phone number. I had a list of dates and names of my uncle being married and divorced, but there was one that showed a marriage and no divorce date, at least I hoped it was my uncle. So I called information and got lucky!!. I found a valid phone number, which I called and told the woman who answered I was looking for a man and gave my uncles name. Low and behold my uncle was there!!!! I wasn’t sure if it was the right person, but I was happy and nervous at the same time. When he got on the phone, I told him who I was, and asked if he had a brother and gave him my dad’s name. He said yes, and then he asked me if I had a brother, and gave my brothers name and my mom’s name!!! I was like WTH!!! It was my uncle and he knew about us!!!.. I began grinning from ear to ear and told him I would call him back when I got off work, and he was happy to hear from me. He gave me alot of information and names of family members still living, and told me about those who had passed away. My uncle is so wonderful, and loving.. I found out I have family in San Francisco, and Detroit, Iowa and Texas.
I began making plans to meet him in person, and to meet the family in San Francisco and Iowa too..Each day we talked I felt closer to him. I imagined that whenever he called me to check on me and see how I was doing, that’s how it would or should have been if my dad were still alive. I think my dad would be proud of me for not giving up, but maybe a little sad that I learned some family secrets…The information I learned left me even more confused about who my dad really was. I have continued to reach out to my family on my dad’s side, and it’s been a little over a year since I found them. I went to Dallas to meet them and it was a surreal moment. I walked the grounds my great grandmother and father walked as a little boy. I actually went inside my great grandmother’s house, and met some cousins who live in that same house in Linden Texas. I walked the cemetary where all of my family are buried too. There is so much I have learned.
I was able to meet a cousin in San Francisco and learn about my grandfather and get a picture of him too… I know all families have secrets and some dysfunction in it, but things I learned were shocking, crazy and confusing. I’m still getting to know my family, and have gone thru small issues with a cousin, but overall I love them all and I am very happy I found them. I seem to have bonded most with my uncle, a 3rd cousin and a 1st cousin.
Now my sister seems somewhat reluctant to reach out and get to know them. She says she’s a little nervous which I can understand but feel she needs to push past that feeling and it will be okay. Especially since she lives literally 10 minutes away from our uncle.
Now my brother, that’s a whole other story. He has held on to resentment of our dad all his life, and now as a grown man he is holding that side of our family accountable for our dad’s actions which is so wrong. .I pray he will realize his wrong and correct it because he is hurting family who have done nothing wrong to him.
Then there is the 1st cousin in Iowa in prison. He is a hand full. Literally. We connected on a lot of levels as we seemed to have shared similar childhoods, or so he says…we both grew up with 1 parent in our lives, and we both had a rebellious side, and we both have experienced a lot in the world. He is lucky at the age of 36 to have no children, while I have only 2. When I went to meet him for the first time,he was behind the glass on a no contact visit. We sat and talked for hours. I remember thinking he was a very nice looking young man, and I remember thinking the genes in our family are good ones..lol. I went to visit him once more during a time he could have normal contact visits, and I was able to hug him for the first time. I hoped that he was happy to have a family member interested in getting to know him and who didn’t mind coming 6 hours to visit him. Fast forward a year….and I now find out that I was very misguided and he misunderstood alot about me and our communication. We both have a talent for writing and thru that I think, he got the wrong idea about me, or either I never took anything serious because we are family…either way, I have decided to keep my distance from him for now, and that is a very sad thing. I know I am doing the right thing for now, and hope he understands that. I pray for his future freedom, as that will make my uncle so happy.
Now my 3rd cousin is so funny.. He looks like Cedric the Entertainer and people say I look like Tisha Campbell (but really I think I look more like Jurnee Smollett Bell-the girl from The Great Debate and Temptations of a Marriage Counselor)..lol now this cousin is always giving me a hard time, about my beliefs or way of thinking…so we seem to always be at it, but really we talk and get along great…I wish I had had the chance of getting to know him and my other cousins and family members growing up. He swear he got swagg….lol. I love him too, and look forward to getting to spend more time with him and his family and my other family too.
I think my dad would be smiling down at me, as I go this journey alone…I miss my dad, and I realize because I loved him, I love them all. My love is so great and abundant, that I love this family I never knew, and I truly want to know them and spend more time with them. I wish I had the chance to grow up with them, but that apparently wasn’t in cards for me.
I am sure anyone who has been in my shoes and searched for and found family have probably gone thru similar reactions, findings and dysfunction…I wonder how you overcame them. .
I am planning to put together a family tree of everyone and hopefully trace our roots back to any slavery records that may exist. . this is a long and frustrating process, which I will record my progress here. so stay tuned…