A few weeks ago I decided to go exploring. If you have read much of my blog, you are very aware that my childhood was a hot mess; honestly, “hot mess” is pretty mild. Anyway, I decided to join a website that helps you build your family tree hoping I would learn more about my birth father whom I have never met. When I was 11 months old my Mom and birth father got a divorce. My Mom moved home with my maternal grandparents and that was that. No visitation from the birth father and no child support. Just my Mom and I making a very rocky go of it.
I had in my mind that I wanted to learn about the people on the paternal side of my tree. I don’t have any plans to call or visit anyone; I just wanted to see how that side of the family tree fleshed out. Learning about the other half of me has never been something I particularly cared about, but lately I have been curious. Other than a few wedding photos that I have of my parents I literally know nothing other than the information tainted with anger and disappointment that my Mom had shared with me.
Without information about your father you cannot say what medical cards are on the table for your other side. You read through medical forms and shrug because you have no clue what lies ahead for you based on the paternal family history. The lack of information is in some ways easier because I cannot worry or obsess about things I know nothing about. Thanks to pictures I have found from my parents wedding, I know that my height and my nose come from my father’s side. I have long legs and a big nose and no one to thank…
I started my tree with the names of my parents. Every so often there would be a little hint from the website that I would pursue and find someone new to add to my tree. I would poke around for a little while each day and then take a break. Each time I went back to the website, there would be another little hint or two or three.
The trouble is that my tree is flourishing on the side that I already know the most about, my maternal side. My paternal side is barely worth calling a branch let alone a tree. I have poked and dug around the roots of the paternal side but nothing seems to be happening there. I find myself looking at the website everyday hoping for a new hint, something, anything, which clears the way to a blooming paternal tree.
Look it’s not like I am walking around with only one functioning side of my body, I know that. It is just that I wanted a little peek into the other people that influenced my being. I had hoped to read about my paternal grandmother. I know that my grandmother came to see me a couple of times but my Mom would not let here in the house because my birth father was not paying the child support that he was instructed to pay by the courts. On one hand I understand my Mom making this line in the sand with my father, but my Grandma? I guess sometimes you flex the power you think you have in hopes of a result. In this case there was no result except that that side of my tree has shriveled away.
I find myself feeling like I have lost something even though there was never really anything there. I hoped I would stumble across a nugget of history that I could hold on to. Just a little pebble from the path I came from…but, for now that is not possible.
I have another month with this family tree service and I plan to use it. It is just hard not to get frustrated, disappointed and sad when you are climbing a tree looking for family fruit and you’re barely two feet off the ground with no hope of going any higher or even grabbing one piece of fruit. I am not going to lie though; I have a really hard time understanding how my birth father or anyone really can just turn their backs on their own children and never look back. When you think about it, this really doesn’t bode well for their character. It also makes for a disappointing and unhealthy family tree.