Many of you have let me know how much you enjoyed the first installment of the story about how I found my missing family after over 50 years.
It took a bit of time to move on to part two but here goes:
I had talked to my cousin and my Aunt a number of times between the initial contact back in May and August of 2011 via phone.
During that time there was medical issues, my gall bladder surgery, my cousins back problems, just lots of things that made our getting together problematic.
I settled into a pattern of calling my Aunt on the weekends.
We would easily chat for an hour or more about this and that trying to piece together the puzzle crafted by the motivations of my Mother---an unknown country that will remain unknown barring the discovery of an in depth diary of her life that I am unaware of.
Why she did what she did, changed the truth, made finding these people so hard and equally hard on their side remains a mystery.
Sadly, even when she had the chance at the end of her life, she chose to keep her secrets and maintain the half-truths and outright lies she had wrought to keep me from contacting my missing family.
Finally I put the ball in the other court and just said “pick a date”.
To me it wasn’t important to have any great fuss nor every party in attendance-I really wanted to meet and talk to my aunt who is 89.
My cousin is only a couple of years older than I am however in this precarious world there are no guarantees and anything can happen.
After searching for all those years I wanted to put faces with the voices and some sense of reality on a very surreal situation.
We finally agreed to meet in Carlsbad on Friday, August 12, 2011.
My cousin Bill would meet me at a designated spot and then we would drive together to my Aunt’s home not too far away.
As I drove southward across the toll road toward San Juan Capistrano and south on the 405 I was surprisingly calm.
I enjoyed the scenery and the cool, grey misty weather unseasonably cool for August in Southern California.
At some point I realized I might be arriving quite early as I hadn’t been focused on what time we were meeting in Carlsbad.
When I arrived at the meeting spot I chose a place to park under a large pine tree where the car would be somewhat shaded all day and called my cousin on my cel.
He was only minutes away and I knew he had a Lincoln Town Car.
In my mind Lincolns only come in black so I was surprised when a well maintained classic slid in beside me in WHITE.
I am a little vague on the next few minutes-I know there was a hug and I made some feeble off handed remark about his looking “BEACHY”.
It is especially strange to meet someone who is to YOU a total stranger but who (on their side) have some dim memories of you.
Most of my emotions surrounding the discovery of living relatives after the years of searching have ranged from elation to frustration especially as I find out more and more how much I was lied to and thwarted (by deign) in my search.
I don’t particularly remember what we chatted about as we drove to my Aunts home but I did become somewhat apprehensive about meeting her.
I was distressed about my choice of shirt, my hair had become lank in the humidity and I just felt a bit unkempt and messy.
First impressions can be so important and I also didn’t want to come off any way other than natural and true to the person I am.
I reminded myself that these people remembered basically an infant-at 6 foot 2 and with a hefty build, going grey there is probably little trace of the child they had last seen.
My cousin reminded me that there had been occasional pictures provided by a friend of the family that spanned the period until I was maybe 116 or so (this person passed away while I was in high school effectively cutting off any contact with my biological father’s side of the family).
He said he could see the resemblance from those pictures to the person I am now.
I don’t think my Aunt cared much how I looked, for her she was reconnecting with a missing direct link to her beloved brother and she welcomed me warmly.
We went off to lunch, I got to look at a few pictures, we toured the city and saw the home my Grandfather had built in which they had grown up as a family.
I will leave our conversations during the day as private between the three of us, much of it would be uninteresting to an outsider and much of it also was conjecture about motivations and little bits of history on both sides of my family.
There was sadness when our time together came to an end…not that we won’t see each other again
soon and certainly more frequently than we have in the past 60 years…more a frustration that everything that wanted saying didn’t get said and everything that needed doing didn’t get done.
There is a special aura that surrounds first times…first meetings…they come once and it would be hard if not impossible to fulfill everyone’s expectations surrounding that meeting.
What we will do now is start to build the relationship that will maintain us through the rest of our lives.
My cousin loaned me his copy of a book which my Aunt had written about her life, growing up and living through the last century.
I spent the evening after I returned home reading the book and I will reread it at least once as it contains detailed information about my family several generations back.
Driving home over the rolling hills between Laguna and the Orange County Basin the day had changed to that late afternoon sun through fog that makes you squint and go headachy.
I realized that I was tired, emotionally more than physically, but in many ways content and in some way connected.
I have felt a bit outside of and adjunct to my remaining family since my Mother’s death.
We live some distance apart and their life has evolved without my presence for many years.
In many ways I was a Christmas and Easter Brother and Uncle not available for the little day to day things that bind a family.
Over the last few years I have made a new relationship with my Niece and repaired in many ways the relationship with my Sister but honestly without me their lives will go on, the world will turn and only in the odd moment would my absence be noticed.
There is a difference with my family lost and now found.
It’s a special feeling to be treasured for who I am and what I represent.
There haven’t been years of little resentments which piled up into dysfunctional behaviors.
All this aside we meet as peers of age and experience and there is a joy in sharing missing moments with someone who deserved to be a part of them but was deprived.
My Aunt and I agree about many things but spotlighted amongst those things is a quirk we share-neither of us like to think of ourselves as LUCKY we like to use the word blessed.
I certainly was blessed to find the connections to my missing past after all those years of searching and I will be further blessed (I hope) by what is yet to come.