by Gina C.
(Fort Myers Fl. )
For as long as I can remember, I felt different. Not in any way because of how I was treated by my dad, in fact, I am the "daddy's girl" of the family. My parents dated from 1962 on and off until they got married (in a hurry) in July of '65. I was born 8 months to the day later. Oddly, both of my parents have denied my mom was pregnant when they married, though I heard "the story" of how they had to marry quickly before it was too obvious my mom was pregnant, from family members. I've always had many questions. Why do I look so different from my parents - dad especially - and my siblings? Small details here and there...
I have always believed my heritage was French/German on mom's side, and Italian/Irish on my dads side. Both of my dad's parents are first generation American with a long lineage history in Italy and Ireland. Theoretically then, I should be 25% of each nationality. Last fall my youngest daughter and her fiance' decided to do the Ancestry DNA test for fun. She was completely caught off guard when her test showed her to be 25% from Iberia Spain. Her father, my ex-husband, is first generation american with his parents from Italy and Norway. She only showed 22% Italian. This wouldn't be possible if I indeed was 25% Italian, and her father was 50%. So...curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do my own DNA. I used 23 & Me for my testing. and wouldn't you know my DNA showed me to be 43.9% from Iberia Spain, and 6% from Portugal. Shock didn't even cover it. The rest of my DNA was French and German as I knew my mother to be. That meant my biological father was almost 100% Spanish/Portuguese. At 51 years old - this has rocked me to my core. I kept this "secret" (only that daughter knew) for 5 months to myself. This past April when visiting my younger sister in NY for the one year anniversary of our mom's passing, I confided my DNA results. She burst into tears...sobbing uncontrollably. She takes my hand and said about 6 months before my mom died (my sister was her primary care giver since I live in FL and my brother in PA) mom confessed that shortly before she married our dad, they were on a "break-up" when my mom dated a "Spanish" man and had sex. As was the norm for them, my parents got back together about a month later, and around the same time, she discovered she was pregnant. I'm not clear if my dad knew for sure I couldn't be his biological daughter right away, or if he just ignored that fact and wanting to believe I was his, married my mom - the love of his life. My paternal grandparents were not especially kind to my mom in the early years, as now I'm sure they did the math and knew deep down I was not my dad's biological daughter. My dad and mom stuck to the story that they were exclusive to each other, so eventually any suspicions were swept under the rug.
My parents divorced when I was 14, but remained great friends until the very end of my mom's terminal illness. My sister went on to explain that at some point in my very young life, my mom told my dad that I was not his. He told my mom then that he never ever wanted to hear those words come from her mouth again. And there the secret lay for 5 decades. My sister told me that my mom wanted so badly to tell me the truth and wouldn't let it go, so in desperation, she skype'd our dad and told him what our Mother's desire was. My sister said she had never heard my father so broken, he was bawling, begging my mother not to tell me. Begging her not to "rip out his heart", that to him I was his. Even if not biologically - which it appears he did in fact know - I was his and he wanted it left as it had been for 50+ years. So...everyone (by this time my brother knew, my sisters adult kids knew, my mom's best friend knew) convinced my mom - very much against her wishes - to keep "the secret", secret. She never divulged a name, only that she worked with him at a jewelry store owned by a Portuguese family in NYC, but never said which store either. Part of my mom's terminal illness involved losing her ability to speak, walk, write, etc.,so the last few months she was unable to tell me even if she could.
So here I sit - devastated. My dad does NOT know that I know. Everyone keeps telling me to "leave the past in the past", and that my dad IS my dad because he raised me. I get that. I have no interest in another "dad". I don't care to connect necessarily to my bio dad, I would however like to maybe see a picture at least. I don't even know that this man knows about me, and I wouldn't want to intrude in his family. Since only my dad may have knowledge of who this fellow is, or at the very least, where mom worked during that time - I am stuck. I don't want to approach my dad, I don't want to hurt him, or change the dynamic of our relationship. In fact, shortly before my mom died, my dad had a massive heart attack, and had to have open heart surgery. My sister is convinced it was brought on by the stress of "the secret", since he is otherwise a very healthy, young 71. I don't want to be the reason he has a second attack!
I am broken. I feel so lost. I most likely will never ever find out who I am in the literal sense. Aside from calling every single jeweler in NYC to ask if the owners are Portuguese, and if they remember a 20 year old blonde that worked for them 50+ years ago and by some miracle getting lucky...I'm forever a "Square Peg in a Round Hole.'
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