Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Aunt Carmen - Finding My Father Part II

The visit with Aunt Carmen today went absolutely fantastic. Wonderful woman, easy to talk to and there was an instant connection - a familiar connection - the moment I saw her.

Wachapreague, which locals call "the little city by the sea," was just as I remembered it. I had been there before as they have a carnival going every summer to earn money for the fire department. Funny, she lived directly across the street from the carnival grounds, only I never knew it of course.

I always loved Wachapreague. You could smell the salt from the ocean just yards from the carnival ground. It was a fisherman's paradise with fishing boats lining the piers and guys in pick-up trucks loading their gear into them regardless of the weather.

Even though it was January and the wind was a bit nippy, they were still out there. Guess you can't keep a fisherman from their calling.

I pulled into the mission called the Alison Jolly House (Casa Esperatza in Spanish) and pushed open the heavy chipped-paint door, not knowing what was on the other side, but believe it or not, even though I should have been nervous, I wasn't.

Aunt Carmen greeted me and introduced me to the migrant workers who were in there with their children, gathering bags of goodies for fifty cents each. A bargain. They could get anything they wanted for only fifty cents. She said that the stuff used to be free, but people were taking advantage of her and going out with bagfuls, so she had to charge a token fifty cents. She said that it cut down on that.

One Spanish woman asked her how much were her goods and Aunt Carmen said, "What do you have?" The young Spanish woman, with two dark-haired little girls, pulled out a handful of change and Aunt Carmen said, "That'll do."

She gave me a tour of the mission, explaining what she was doing there. She was a minister who lived in Orlando, Florida, who had a calling to help the migrants in a little town on the Eastern Shore and that's where she's been since 1999. She showed me the framed copy of an article the Virginian Pilot (daily paper out of Virginia Beach) that she hung proudly on the wall. This was a labor of love for her. Definitely her calling.

The Spaniards would talk in Spanish and Aunt Carmen would respond back, then translate for me. I even picked up a word or two after listening to them. Really neat.

After they left, we talked. We wanted to figure out why it was that my mother and father separated in the first place. She said she knew someone who was quite elderly but would know and she promised to contact her and let me know.

I found out all kinds of neat things. I have Italian heritage which I believe was the most interesting. I also have four Popes as ancestors.

My father is 6'4" and I have his mouth. He used to be blonde, but now his hair is white. He does not know of my visit today yet or that I've been found.

I have a brother, possibly two. His name is Douglas, he's in his forties, married, with one child and lives in Salisbury, Maryland, which is only 45 minutes from me. He's my next contact as soon as I rest up from today's adventure.

I also might have a brother named Terri (my notes I took during the whole conversation are sketchy as I didn't want to look like a reporter, lol) and a sister or two.

I think knowing that I have a brother is about the greatest news you could tell me. I always wanted a brother and envied those who did. Now I do.

My grandmother died of breast cancer. Funny, whenever doctors would ask me if there was cancer in the family, I'd say no. Guess I can't say that now.

I found out my father's physical address and his phone number. I will not do anything until he knows of me and that I want to see him.

After we talked, she wanted to show me where my grandmother and grandfather were buried. She also showed me her plots and she showed me where they had just buried a Spanish baby. On her plot. Maybe they didn't have any money. This is the kind of woman she is.

She then showed me the church where she holds service. I took pictures so maybe soon I'll be able to show them to you. It was a beautiful church. She apologized at the condition of it, but to me, it was simply breath-taking, even in the middle of winter.

She also showed me where an uncle lived. A Tommy Colonna. And then she took me to her house where she showed me pictures of her husband. I couldn't tell if it looked like my father or not since I've never seen him nor any pictures of him.

As I was leaving, I hugged her and asked her to do one thing for me - tell my father that I want to meet him. She said she would.

I got in my car feeling elated. The pieces of the puzzle of my life are coming together - one piece at a time, but very important pieces that make up a part of my life I never knew about. It's like whoa I have a family. I have brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles - could my life be better than this?

I did vow to myself that if my father refuses to see me, I would not get upset and that I would understand. Supposedly, my family refused to let him see me, so I could understand what pain he must have gone through.

But, there are still unanswered questions that I need to know. Why didn't he try to contact me after all these years? Or, did he and give up? Or, did he try to block that part of his life out?

I don't know...so many unanswered questions that I will find the answers to.

For, after all, these are my roots and it is those roots that give me strength to be who I really am.


  1. Again - your story validates mine. Finding out who you are and where you come from is the most important part of the journey but looking into your own father's eyes is also powerful. I pray that you will get the opportunity.

  2. Okay, so what you're saying is that even as powerful as the journey has been up to this point, the pivoting point is when I look into his eyes for the first time? Awesome.

  3. Can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been. Great post, Dorothy.


  4. Dorothy- What an amazing journey you're on. I can't even begin to understand all that you must be feeling right now, but my prayers are with you, Sweetie! Keep us posted.

  5. What a wonderful, positive meeting you had. I hope the journey only gets better from here!

    (Heather L. from JustWriteIt)

  6. Dorothy, I am so happy that you are taking this journey, and my prayers are with you that you get the response you want from your father!

  7. I am so glad that the visit went so well, as an adoptive mom of a precious little boy we chose to be completely open in our relationship with his birthparents so there would be no wondering or lost pieces of himself.

    Again, I am so happy for you...


  8. What a beautiful story! I hope it has a happy ending. For personal reasons of my own I hope all goes well and your father welcomes you with open, loving arms! You don't know me, but please know you are in my prayers.
    God Bless~


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