A piece missing—Am I my father’s son?

A Piece Missing

Over on Facebook, people are asking questions like,

What’s the most interesting thing that happened to you in 2017?
What do you think will be your best memory of 2017?
What do you think will be your worst memory of 2017?

I haven’t answered any of those questions but the first question led me to reflect on the most interesting thing I discovered in 2017.

In April 2017, I got interested in genealogy. Since I’ve been estranged from both sides of my family for 24 years, I sometimes wonder what happened to cousins, nieces & nephews, aunts & uncles, even brothers & sisters.

I got really ambitious last year and took out a membership at Ancestry based on a long-time friend’s genealogy posts on Facebook. It was interesting because Ancestry looks at the names of people you enter and then searches its database to find matches and links to others who have entered the same names.

It was through those links that I was able to find several documents relating to my father. The first was an application for a headstone:

Dad's headstone marker application

The application was made by my wise old grandmother, Mary Agnes Kirk. I learned from that document that my father served in the Air Force from December 18, 1950, to December 17, 1954, as a member of the 728th Squadron, Aircraft Control & Warning, and was discharged as a Staff Sergeant. All interesting but it’s the service dates that I think are critical here, being discharged on December 17, 1954. I tried to find more information about the 728th Squadron because I wanted to see if I could find someone who knew my dad. No luck. So I have to make presumptions, and those could be completely wrong.

The next document I found was my dad’s death certificate which told me that he killed himself on January 18, 1961. I never knew until last year that he had killed himself. I was led to believe that he had died in the Korean War. Hmmm.

A few email messages to survivors who would know about this indicated that my father killed himself due to my mother’s indiscretions. Here’s where it gets interesting. Apparently my father was in the Air Force in Korea. That’s important to know because I was born on March 11, 1955. Nine months earlier would have been June 11, 1954. At that time, from what I can determine, my father was in Korea. Hmmm.

There is a possibility that my father was home on leave. That’s why I wanted to see if I could find someone from the 728th Squadron who was still living and might have relevant records of that kind of stuff.

According to others who might know, my parents fought often. I’m thinking that whether or not he was home on leave, sometime in January 1961, perhaps during a fight, my mother blurted out something like, “Russel’s not even your son! He’s the milkman’s son!”

So, am I my father’s son? Interesting question.

That’s the most interesting thing that happened to me in 2017.

However, related to this and also found during my genealogical research are these juicy tidbits:

  1. I had always been told that my mother had been born in Helena, Montana. Even my mother told me that. Nope. She was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Why the lies?
  2. I had always been told that my oldest brother lived for 13 months. Nope. He lived just over four weeks. Apparently he drowned on his baby bottle in the middle of the night. Sources say that he was crying and that my mother got up and gave him a bottle, and then went back to bed. Why the lies?
  3. Baby Boy KirkI had always been told that my youngest brother died at birth. Nope. He died on the same day he was born but lived long enough to be given a name. I always knew him as “Baby Boy Kirk.” Even his gravestone, which I helped pay for, says “Baby Boy Kirk” on it. His name actually was Randy Kirk according to everything I have found, including the 2012 obituary for my mother. Why the lies?

Was my family the progenitors of the Republican liars of today? The fake news purveyors of today? The alternative facts of today? Inquiring minds want to know.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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29 thoughts on “A piece missing—Am I my father’s son?

  1. dogleadermysteries

    Wow. What a huge number of lies to uncover. Not sure what you will make of this all and am interested to find out.

    As an adoptive mother, I had plenty of hard truths to tell. At first I kept most of what I knew as silent with a few simple statements. When our child was three her birthmother died. That death hit me hard. I felt as if I could and should help the woman who had conceived and carried our child. Unfortunately, she lost hope.

    I won’t go into the details I unraveled in our child’s family history. Mostly, I let her questions lead the way to conversations. We honored her biological mom in many ways. Have a black & white photo of her in high school framed and on same​ shelf as my grandparents & our child’s grandparents. A friend of the mother gifted us thr​ee boxes of photographs belonging to our child’s mother. I turned those photos and postcards into a narrative of her physical mother’s life.

    The truism stands for me. Life is what you make it. “You are not finding yourself. You are creating yourself.” Benard Shaw

    I’ve acted on and spoken my values to our child. Essentially, our history is NOT prologue for the future. We are “at choice”. We often have more and better choices than our parents.

    Thanks for your rich and interesting blog. I always enjoy reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Thanks for a very good comment. I left my family 25 years ago, both side of it, so I’m not going to make anything out of this. I just find it so very interesting. I guarantee you it won’t cause me to run out and try to make amends with all those folks. Nope. Not going to happen.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. disperser

    Interesting. Lies sometimes are not lies for any purpose other than to make thing easier for oneself or others. Knowingly or not, we probably lie all the time as we construct a narrative or our life, meaning that rationalization of our acts and motives doesn’t always match the acts and motives of when stuff actually happened. Plus, memory is seldom the faithful and infallible recording of what happens; people misremember and sometimes the lies we tell ourselves and others become remembered truths.

    So far, I’ve resisted similar investigations into my father’s side of the family. Or, of my ancestry in general. There are some inconsistencies in what I was told, but my attitude has always been that of an Italian car driver . . . “what’s behind me, should no matter.”

    Meaning, I can’t make the argument for why I would want to know or what purpose it would serve. The longer I wait, I suspect the harder it will be to find information on the past, then again, as record keeping improves and more people search, it may get easier . . . but I think I’ll go to my end looking ahead, not behind.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      The only reason I was doing genealogical research was to try to find out some medical history. I did find out that two of my uncles both died of pancreatic cancer, one at age 67 and one at 63. Other than that, the obituaries were not helpful.

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  3. Albert Moyer, Jr

    So many individuals are in your shoes. The tough part is how it affects their psychology over a lifetime. The anger seems to bubble up and blame is laid on many others who had nothing to do with the situation based on uncontrollable events of the individuals past. That nagging question of, “Why? Why me?” This is why I always say to people,” Having children is not just about you.”

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      That could explain why I never had children and never wanted children. Considering that I was one of Utah’s greatest juvenile delinquents, doing everything except murder and rape, I figured that if I had a child, s/he would be the next Charles Manson or Jack the Ripper.

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  4. unexpectedincommonhours

    Genealogy research can turn up some doozies! I’ve done DNA testing for genealogy purposes with 2 different companies. My sister always made fun of me for that until for some unknown reason she decided to have her DNA tested. We found out that we are not full sisters. We are half sisters. Since I remember when she was born, I knew it meant our mother had an affair, and my sister was the “love child.” To make things worse, my sister blurted all of this out to Dad who is almost 90 years old, and now he knows he isn’t her real father. (Our mom has passed away.) Talk about a mess! But we are who we are, and what happened, happened. All we can do is try to forgive and move on. I wish you well if you continue to research your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I originally was trying to find out medical history but there’s not much in the obituaries and I have no desire to contact anyone other than the three people (two gays and one lesbian) whom I am still in contact with. Other than that, I left everyone else behind 25 years ago and have no desire to reconnect.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Gallivanta

    My own experience ishat records are not authoritative; they have as many inconsistencies as the people who recorded the details and as the people they relate to. My grandmother’s death certificate states that when she died she was 72 but her husband, still living at the time, was only 27! Sometimes there are obvious lies like my other grandmother’s age on her marriage certificate.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Typos and such can easily be corrected, though. My dad’s middle name, Ancel, on many official documents is “Angel.” With penmanship an worn out typewriter ribbons, some of the “typos” can be quite interesting. Just one of many reasons why I don’t put much stock in stories in the Bible and other such books. All those mis-translations over the millennia……….

      When I was 38 and sitting at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans drinking margaritas during Mardi Gras, my mom admitted that she misspelled my name on my birth certificate. So I guess I could switch to “Russell” and tell everyone the birth certificate is wrong……………LOL

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          Ha! They did not allow anything. In fact, they fought tooth and nail. But my wise old grandmother usually got what she wanted. When she died, her surviving three sons disinvited me to the funeral. Stupid me had no idea that funerals required invitations. I heard a lot from them, and that was when I decided that I didn’t need their last name anymore. I dropped it and took my middle name as my last name. Legally. Then I let everyone know. I can be a bitch, too, if I’m in the mood. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, watch out!

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              One of the books I read during my “coming out” in May 1993 was “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. She was just getting started on her journey to being one of the world’s greatest self-help gurus. In it she said, “You didn’t have a choice into which family you were born, but you have a choice now as to who is in your family.” I took her literally. Still do. Sadly, she died last year.

              Liked by 1 person

              Reply
    1. The Retiring Sort

      Unless you’re identical twins, no two people’s DNA ancestry is a complete match. My full sister and I have some differences, as well – but we share enough DNA to absolutely confirm our relationship. We do tease each other a bit about who gets more of what what from whom, though!

      Liked by 2 people

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  6. The Retiring Sort

    As a genealogy enthusiast, although for much longer, I can tell you that we increasingly warn “newbies” – including those taking DNA tests – that they should be prepared for surprises and debunking of facts and stories they’ve heard. These go from things like my being named for a grandmother whose name turns out to be something completely different, to stories like yours. You might consider Bill Griffeths’ book The Stranger in My Genes, if you haven’t read it already. You seem to be taking all this surprisingly well in stride… but my thoughts are with you, just the same. https://www.amazon.com/Stranger-My-Genes-Memoir-ebook/dp/B01K5TP2J4

    Liked by 1 person

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