At the same time Mike and Cathy and I were friending each other and exchanging FB messages, I was still working on my family tree, still working out my DNA matches on my father’s side. One evening, as I was getting ready to quit, I tried one.last.name. I plugged him into my speculative tree and attached my DNA. What has been described, rather poetically, by one particular DNA Genealogist happened quite unexpectedly: “the skies opened; the angels sang”…because, suddenly, everything made sense. Third and fourth cousins assumed their proper relational positions. Names fell into place. My 98% Irish/Scottish/OrkneyIsland heritage worked. Even the >2% Scandinavian was represented.
The next day, during the very first conversation I had with my Sister, Cathy (!!!) on the phone, she actually gave me this man’s name!!! Believe me when I tell you, my gasp at this emptied the room of all breathable air. How did she know?!? Cathy, when hearing the news that she had an older and previously unknown sister (Me!!!), went to see her Dad, Bob, to ask him a few probing questions. Well, let’s call it what it was. Cathy went to confront her Dad. Remember, Cathy and Mike hadn’t heard a word, really, about me ever. This was a shock. They needed some first-hand eye-witness testimony. And Bob, God love him, remembered enough at this point to give her what answers he had. Which was pretty good, considering Bob is 85 years old and hadn’t talked about this for a very long time. I got to meet Bob and talk with him later on…but that’s another blog for another time. (I know…don’t you just HATE that?!?)
So. With Bob’s confirmation, the DNA evidence, and the ever-growing paper trail, I was pretty confident I had found my birthFather, Joe. Joe Gaffney. Since then, I’ve continued to build out this tree, adding more folk, and tracing more ancestors. One of the more telling documents I found was Joe Gaffney in the Buffalo City Directory for the 1950s. He is in there…listed with his wife during the key years. Seems Joe may have been something of a rogue. It was months after this initial confirmation that I heard a couple of different stories about him. I may never really know how I came to be. But, at the end of the day, and after 61 years, does it really matter? I’m here. Seven wonderful people are also here because I was born; and more people, God willing, will be born from some of those seven…
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game ~
Joni Mitchell “Circle Game”
Well, I had pretty much found the information I was looking for. But what did I know? How was this changing me? You know: those pesky existential questions: who am I? who do I look like? why was I given up? who are my family? On one hand, my adopted family made me very much who and what I am. Nurture over nature. But, on the other hand, my genetic family gave me large chunks that have been passed down to my Daughters and Grandsons (for weal or for woe) and the only way I could puzzle out some of these more obscure nuances was for a meet and greet. Face-to-face.
Time for a real re-union. Time to go and see these folk and look in those faces and see myself and my family. We were all ready for this…or as ready as we’d ever be…whilst, at the same time, trying to be sensitive to the heightened emotions, aware of the probability of unexpected consequences.
Time for a deep breath and to make the arrangements. So, after much deliberation, we set the date.