I was born in May of 1953. My parents were Dorine and Elmer Ferrey. I was the youngest of 3 children.
That’s the family I grew up with.
This post is mostly about Dad.
Dad was a quiet man. A man of few words. He was strict but, to me, not abusive. My sisters tell a slightly different story, but that’s not what’s important for this post.
Dad loved beer, he would have gotten along with Brett Kavanaugh. He drank way too much however. My mother could tell stories about his drinking, none of which were positive. He was diagnosed with dementia early in his 70’s. It’s likely his death at 76 was the ultimate price he paid for his excess.
I saw Dad smile, but it didn’t seem natural. He rarely made jokes, at least with his children.
He liked boxing, but otherwise had little interest in sports. He never took us to a sporting event of any kind. He would rarely come to my little league games, not interested in making the 200 yard walk from home.
He had positive attributes, but few if any involved his children.
He was distant. Removed. Not conversational.
He passed away on September 10, 1998.
Over the years I wondered if any personality traits, health history, would show up in my life. Would I go bald in my 30’s. Would I be prone to excess drinking. Traits I hoped not to share with my Dad.
I also wondered why I had a love of sports, both playing and watching. Why I had a passion for music, A sense of humor. Traits I would have loved to share with my Dad.
Was the experience growing up unique or did I share the experience with other young boys?
Did I ever feel like my Dad didn’t treat me like his son. Huh, What?
That’s the question my mother asked me when I was 64. Huh, What? Where did that come from?
My mother came to live me earlier that year. I have another section about that experience, but that’s not what this is about. That question came out the blue at one of our breakfasts at the kitchen table. I didn’t know how to respond. I had no frame of reference to answer. Was I treated differently by my Dad than other kids? I don’t know. I never thought about it. I answered accordingly. There was no follow up until…
A few days later my mother and I had one of our now common “disagreements”. For some reason I had angered her. The next conversation resulted from that anger, and her desire to “hurt” me. I’m not exactly sure of the exact words, but the were something like “The father I grew up with might not be my real father”. If you read the other section, you’ll know my mother was prone to saying some strange, really strange things. My initial reaction was here we go again. She did, however have an amazing memory for a 91 year old. She proceeded to tell me a story about an incident that occurred in 1952. She was working the night shift at a yarn factory. One night accepted an invite from a team leader at work to take her to work. On the way they stopped the convertible “taxi” of her co-worker. The exact details of what happened next were left out of the conversation. It was shortened to they had a liaison in the car. At the time my mother was married to Elmer and had two daughters. They talked about having another.
A few months later she quit her job. She had become pregnant. She told me she really didn’t know who the forthcoming baby’s father was.
I was the baby.
Mom told me she has suspicions that Dad was not the father, but she never knew for sure. In the ensuing 67 years, she never told anyone about the “liaison” or her suspicion about who my real Dad might me.
Mother told me that story in the morning. When Donna came home after work and we were having dinner, I asked mom to tell the story again, so Donna could hear it. She did and told it almost exactly as she had told me that morning. She added additional details. She repeated the car was a convertible and added the color. She mention the specific date. She told us his first name wsa Bill and what she thought was his last name. She went through a couple of options on his last name but she almost nailed it on one of them.
We really didn’t know what to think. The clarity and specificity of her story were remarkable.
Prior to her moving in with us, she was in the hospital in Pennsylvania. When I went to visit I stayed with my older sister. During one visit she told me she had taken a DNA test with Ancestry.com. After hearing my mothers story, I decided to take a DNA test as well. The results took about 2 months. I compared them with my sisters results. There were dramatic differences. For one, we were considered first cousins not siblings. Second, there was a significant difference in the other matches. We only shared a few in common. Some of hers didn’t show up on my list and vice versa. What’s that about? Third, our DNA pointed the country make up to be equally different. To my untrained eye, we didn’t seem to share parents.
Now what? I decided to message my closest DNA match that wasn’t on my sisters list. I gave him as much information as I could and asked if he knew anyone who might recognize my mother story. It seemed like forever, but in about two weeks I received a reply. “Give me your email, there is someone who would like to talk to you”.
Awesome. In a few days I received an email from “Diane”. She she told me her dad (Bill) worked where my mother said she worked around the same time. I told Diane the date my mother gave me and she said he was working there at that time. Her dad remembered my mom describing her perfectly. I sent Diane a picture of my mom, “That’s her” he said when seeing it. He also remembered the “liaison” From that point Bill was convinced I was his son. I was still skeptical.
The most logical way to remove the skepticism was for Bill to take a DNA test. Don’t need one, he said, looking at my picture and surrounding circumstances was enough for him.