Brothers and Sisters
Brothers and Sisters
a two part series:
Let’s start with Sisters, it is the gentleman’s way and in 1986 they were the first discovery in my quest for finding my birth parents nearly thirty years ago. What is interesting here is, on my paternal side, the children were all girls and on the maternal they were all boys. This unusual coincidence makes the story much easier to explain without confusing the families involved. Bette Mom had all boys and “the Dad” had all the girls… the exception was me.
Suddenly having sisters, having survived without them for forty-five years, was both a blessing and a curse. It didn’t take long for my wardrobe to suddenly come under scrutiny. I think my wife Chris engineered the whole thing. They started with my lack of jeans in place of my khaki pants, which I was very fond of wearing, and ended with my choice of tennis shoes which weren’t exactly in fashion. The blessing was, they were the most beautiful sisters one could hope for so, their opinions on my fashion faux pas were valued to some extent.
Discovering their existence:
It all began when my Cousin Danny (my partner in crime when growing up) and his wife Carolyn paying us a visit in 1986 at our home in southern California. My wife Christine and I had just adopted our son Patrick and over dinner one night, when I was away flying, Dan says to Chris… “Patrick must be very special to Ron being as he was adopted and all?” “Whoa,” Chris says… “You’re kidding right?” Well, Dan wasn’t kidding, it was well known in the family that I had been adopted and I was the only one that didn’t know.
Chris couldn’t wait to spill the beans and when I got home from my trip she did. I didn’t sleep much that night but after some thought I rationalized, that finally, it all made sense. It could have been the reason I didn’t bond well with my adoptive mother. I recalled asking her a decade or so earlier that why, when younger, I couldn’t recall ever kissing her good night. She replied that I was never a very affectionate child. So apparently, I thought, I may have bonded with someone that took care of me during my first eighteen months. In my quest to find my birth parents I discovered who that person was.
I suspected my mother would have difficulty with my new found knowledge and she did. I had to ask what she knew of my birth parents and was very careful how I worded the question. Her reply was that my Dad, as a marine, was killed in the war somewhere in the pacific. My mother on the other hand had married a china man and left the country. Both of these answers were obviously questionable to me and I merely replied… “Oh.”
A few weeks later I was visiting with Mom, and while shuffling through boxes of old family photos, she pulled from the bottom of the pile a postcard, and a photo of a soldier standing arm in arm, with his mother and brother(who was also in uniform). She threw them on the floor at my feet… saying “here they are!” On the back it said Harold, Mom and Donald (1941), and at the bottom, in big letters, it read… “Kuhn.” Well, it was a start, “Harold Kuhn.” You can read about “the postcard” in an earlier blog.
I was able to have someone pull pages of phone numbers and addresses from a Detroit area phone book under the name Kuhn, there were about two hundred. I then made a form letter that included the picture of Harold, the marine, asking if anyone had knowledge of his whereabouts and explained who I thought I was. And, they could then choose to answer or not. I considered then that some people might not enjoy having skeletons pop out of their closets. I mailed them, all two-hundred, on a Friday afternoon.
Mid-morning, the following Monday, I received a phone call. On the line, and I could hear her crying, was Nona Kuhn. “Ronnie, where are you?” She went on to explain that she was the widow of Arthur Kuhn, Harold’s older brother, and that she and Art had taken care of me and my birth mother Bette during my early life. I was named after Art, my middle name is Arthur, and my birth parents had chosen my given name Ronald. I told her I was living in southern California and asked about Harold, was he still alive? Nona told me Harold was still alive and that he too lived in southern California. “Do you think he would mind if I contacted him?” I asked. Nona replied that she thought he would love to hear from me and gave me his phone number, which I learned was in Long Beach, just a short drive up the 405 Freeway from where we lived.
Finding Nona, was a bit of luck (A twofer as they call it), because not only did she know where Harold was, but she and my birth mother Bette had remained friends for a long time after. She confided that she would try and find her, which after a while she managed to do (That is yet another story “coming next” about my finding me some brothers).
So, on Nona’s judgment, I cold call Harold Kuhn in Long Beach. Harold answers the phone and I begin to explain who I think I am, in relation to him of course. He says, “Uh huh,” and I tell him about my conversation with Nona, his sister-in-law in Michigan. Harold again says, “Uh huh, let me call you back.” Harold “the Dad” after about ten minutes, called me back. He suggested why don’t I come visit him in Long Beach? Now, I asked? He explained after hanging up from my call, he turned to his wife Billie saying, “Do you know who that was?” Billie had replied, “Uh huh.” So at some point in their lives, I concluded, I was a known entity that might one day appear at their front door. And, I did just that the very same day.
We had a lot in common, Harold and I, that I will be sharing later.