Okay, so there will be three parts to my blog about my Buffalo adventure and discovery.
Discovery Day - My emotions continue to flow even as I prepare this blog entry late on my Wednesday evening.
Mapping out my childhood on Friday afternoon, September 1st with my dad, really deserves it own blog post, as there were so many amazing and long overdue memories and moments shared with my dad and Steve on this date. While I dreamed it, I never really imagined that I would be able to recreate some of the moments that I had with my father, discovering the reality and logistics of my childhood, but I did.
We met with my father sometime mid-morning on Friday, September 1st. A great and unexpected moment in the day for me was being able to see my brother, Paul again, who made a special stop on his route in an attempt to run into me. Truly a special moment. Thank you Paul. My dad and I sat on the sofa in his home and he pulled out his notebook that he kept maintained for over 50 years in his attempt to find my brother, Jim Bob and I. Right there in black and white was all of the evidence of his search. There were letters, photos he was able to obtain through my mom's brother, Joe. There were even letters written on my dad's behalf to Montel Williams, in an attempt through close friends of my dad's to find his boys. My emotions were high and the tears flowed in these moments shared and documents reviewed together. To say that it was unbelievable does not even begin to cover it. My mother's 'secrets and lies' seemed to sum up the theme much better. But, I learned in this moment in time that she had her reasons for doing what she did and keeping the truth from my brother and I. I knew that I needed to let it go as it was in the past and that we needed to focus on the present. Regardless, these were incredible moments in time shared with my father.
Once we got ourselves together, my dad, Steve and I set out to learn what I could about me, the little boy. We went to where I lived with my father and mother at 192 Blum Street. I took photos standing there on the corner, all the while standing there is disbelief. We went to where I was born at Children;s Hospital. Again, another photo opportunity with my father and I, that I never thought would happen. I also learned along the way that my mother and father were high school sweethearts and met at South Park High School in Buffalo many, many years ago. Just not sure why I was never told that, but it is what it is. Regardless, I had more photos with my dad and I at the high school.
Finally, we went to here my mother lived at 97 Derstein. Now, I've heard about this place before from my mother and believe it or not, I was able to identify the house purely from my memories. Truly remarkable and probably the moment of the day for me. Why? Because it was one of the truths that I knew about and it was then that all of the dots began to connect for me. I only wish I was able to share these moments together with the brother I grew up with, Jim Bob. But, I did share parts of each of these moments with him on a phone call during the Labor Day weekend. He needed to experience these moments too as much as possible.
When the tour down memory lane concluded at 3:00 p.m., honestly, I felt a bit emotionally overwhelmed and I could tell that my dad was experiencing some of the same emotions too. We decided to take a break in the day before the family pizza dinner evening, which would start at 5:00 p.m.. I know that I needed it to put everything into perspective over an enjoyable walk, cup of coffee and conversation with Steve. So, we set out to do just that and more. It was all good and mission was accomplished too.
The pizza dinner evening was great fun. Steve and I spent it with Dad, Sandy ('mom'), David and Lorna. Those who could make it did and it was us who needed to be there too. We played horseshoes and had the time of our lives. Seemed that 'mom's' flowerbed took the brunt of some of the target. She was a very good sport about it. Once it was too dark to play the game anymore and to get in from the bug bites, we went inside. There, we talked more, laughed and shared more together until sometime after 10:00 p.m. Dad ended our evening with a prayer. It wasn't until later that I realized how important that prayer would be for me. For me, it represented closure for the long day and the new chapter away from 'secrets and lies.'
So, as I begin a new chapter, or perhaps even a new title for a book, this quote stuck in my head and is a great message for this post for not only myself, but my family, friends and any reader. “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson