Oh Brother

Editor’s Note: I have chronicled my journey to find my birth family in another publication*, but for those who are new to my blog, here are the Cliff Notes:

With the help of a woman who specializes in adoption information searches, I learned that my birth parents married two years after I was born in 1960 and went on to have two sons. My birth brothers learned about me after their parents divorced in the nineties. I contacted my birth mother in 2010. She made it clear the men in this family would not be happy to hear I had come calling. So I decided to go calling and drove to Kentucky, unannounced, to meet my birth parents. My birth mother did not choose to speak to me other than a brief introduction. My birth father, well that’s where this story picks up in June 2013.

The search was supposed to be about my birth mother. As is most often the case, giving up a child is typically a woman’s secret journey, especially in 1960. Her unfavorable response when I called her over three years ago was not unexpected and its impact on my life thankfully quite minor. The real curve ball came from a trio of men who let me know they’ve been waiting for me all along.

I did not need to go looking for a few good men. My dad Guy Sr., my husband Lee, and my older brother Guy Jr. have been the consistent examples of what that looks like. Their strength has been measured in their actions. They have embraced their responsibilities. They have loved me despite my many flaws.

I had few expectations regarding my birth father prior to meeting him because of the conversation with my birth mother. Despite her dire warning, he was gracious and welcoming that weekend. I owe him greatly for this new, ongoing chapter in my life. He seemed genuinely happy I showed up in his driveway unannounced, but he didn’t commit to telling his sons about my visit which was fine with me.

When I drove off, I felt I had gotten enough visual details to call it a day on this journey. Sometimes that’s all a child of adoption really needs. An introduction to my birth brothers didn’t seem necessary at the time.

Let me be clear that I have always held the title of spoiled baby in my family.

Guy has been the big brother through life despite no genetic connection. He’s been my solid rock from the get go. I know several siblings from shared gene pools who cannot say the same.

Guy stood with me in that room when our sweet, laconic dad died one sad day in August 2003. We watched our once wickedly funny mom endure nine years of life in serious darkness and confusion before dying in 2010. But we collectively take joy in the memories of their contrary relationship – a lovely melding of order and chaos.

We share the family vacations taken to the coast and across an ocean. Physical tumbles and mental rumbles between us played out on a living room floor while watching Red Skelton and The Brady Bunch. Beaulah, Jade, Oliver, Jonathan, Myra and so many more are the names only we recognize in our menagerie of family pets. Recollections of birthdays, holidays and nightly family suppers belong only to Guy and me.

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He is a Duke graduate. My degree bleeds Carolina blue. We are friendly rivals, but unconditional in our love for one another.

So far my new, younger brothers share only a single memory in a sea of mutual DNA that took place just this past December when they came to Chapel Hill for a visit. They are the ones who contacted me after my birth father called them and dropped the details of my bombshell visit.

I was happy to leave the story in Kentucky last June, but they had other ideas.

There’s no denying the chemistry is there, not to mention a resemblance. Humor and conversation are seamless. We share physical features and a true interest in getting to know each other.

For the stranger staring back at me in the mirror all these years, a mystery has been solved. They have become something more to me than simple background details in my journey.

They are rabid Kentucky fans. This could get complicated.

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I am not sure how I will navigate three brothers connected to me, but not to one another. I think I am lucky to have all of these good men in my life. I’m the bossy sole sister ruling from the center. This is the natural role I was born to play.

 

 

Feature photo: Guy and me one hot summer day on our porch in the early sixties. I have no idea what happened after the photo was taken, but I don’t think it was pretty.

Middle Photo: The Sibling Rivalry all grown up. Guy and me at the Duke/UNC football game in November 2013.

Bottom Photo: Wayward Kentucky fans and brothers, Jeff (l) and Mike (r), after the UNC/Kentucky basketball game in Chapel Hill in mid December.

Let it be noted that I got tickets for all these opposing fans. Yes, boys, sister Sue has everything in order.

* FYI, you have to sign up to have access to O’Henry magazine’s past issues and it is not my intention for you to jump through these hoops, but I’m including a link in case you are detail-oriented. http://issuu.com/ohenrymag/docs/november_2013_o_henry (page 53)

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