Sunday, September 01, 2013
Into my adult hood, I felt as if I was walking around asking "are you my Mommy?". Everyone, anyone I met, from Northern Maine, and/or had the last name Chamberland(Chamberlain) I would quiz. My heart would skip a bit, my palms would begin to sweat..
Maybe this is THE one.
Alas it has yet to happen.
I have come to terms it may never. OK so no I haven't.
The ride back from Maine and to my world was long. The name nagged at me. As close as my father and I were, this was one subject I rarely broached, the pain of the situation bore vividly on his face.
Time went on, and it sat there. Stuck in the cranium. The feeling deep inside of being different took a turn, a new twist. Was I just comparing this situation with who I was? Did it truly make me different?
I knew then and I know now, the answer is no. It just meant there was a void. One I had hoped my father would pursue.
Years went by and life took its path. I followed. I would get cards for my birthday from my grandmother, with little notes scrawled inside. These cards aggravated me. I was taught to not tell secrets, and here was my world of elders doing this exact notion.
I loved my grandmother, as much as I could. Miles between us and stamps kept us connected. I had wondered where the connection was, the commonality between us. When she passed and my father and I made the trek north, we had time to sit, to talk and to think. My father's drinking had taken a serious turn shortly before this time. Many a night he would ramble on, making no sense. Words would stumble from his lips, "Bastard child","There is no God. No God would let this...." and on and on. My heart would crumble, as I could only sit there and watch this man fall apart. Everything had come to a head.
Our last night in Northern Maine, the last time my father would go home, was the night of his mother's funeral. We sat in her living room, which had an air of heavy regret lingering. I'd watch as he would just gaze about the room. His gaze was driven by some seeking. Seeking of answers. His eyes would stop at pictures on the wall. I'd wonder what he was thinking. Was he back at that time? Was he wondering? All that had just gone away.
He told me information, most I already had known. I am not quite sure when exactly he had found out or had his own suspiscions confirmed. Frank was on his birth certificate. I can assume it was when he enlisted in the Navy and needed the document.
I was bold child and would ask him point blank. Yet he never gave me a true answer. He knew the stories, of the basketball games or the at the store. Yet was it real for him? Was it just a story to appease the man?
For the first time, that night as we sat, he accepted his anger.
He also accepted he couldn't change it.
That night was an eye opener for both of us. On many levels.
A year went by and then I sat next to the man once more. This time his acceptance had come in the form of his own mortality. He would leave us just four months later.
We once again spoke from the heart. Words said, promises made. The newspaper from Northern Maine had come in the mail. There was an obit. for a woman. I didnt recognize the name. My father showed my mother, they passed words in French and then no more.
Curiosity drives me. I scanned the obit and the name blared out from the page: Frank Chamberland, brother of the deceased. My heart sank. He was still alive. More so he lived only and hour away. An hour away.
My father pushed it aside. Nary a word spoken.
Yet I asked.
He shrugged his shoulders and inquired, "Why?" The heaviness of his own life, and taking moments that he had left at that present time were just more important, than a name.
It hit me then, that is all this man was to my father, a name.
With his passing, went even more of Frank. That image within my head had begun to fade. Although he was an hour, just one, away.
Years went by, and then we plugged into the internet age. About 1996. It was archaic by today standards, and the information was not anywhere to be found. Yet I never gave up. 1998 rolled around, and I joined a site to begin my genealogy. A quest in general. To see where we had begun. In January, I found a number.
My heart raced.
What would I say? What if he hung up on me? What if he denied it? What if there was more to this saga than I was prepared for?
I told my brothers, their reactions, each a bit indifferent. Not understanding why this ate at my very being. I wasn't even sure of the reasons.
Having picked up the phone, having dialed the numbers, having listened to the phone ring.