I do not post personal topics on this blog, nor will i be making a habit of it in the future. But i got a… let’s say call today. In Vancouver, Canada a man is dying and his time left could be measured in hours. A day? Two days? There is no question it is the end. Thus today i am going to tell you a little story.
A Little Story:
I am adopted.
I’m putting together some of the e-mail threads from the period in which I made contact with my natural, paternal family. These were originally e-mails sent to several of my friends or the parties involved as events were unfolding,This occurred just a few years ago.
PART 1 (email to friends)
A week and a half ago i called Gaile (my birth mother who i met when i was 20) for the first time in years. we talked for 3 hours and in the course of conversation i found out that my father’s name isn’t in fact Jacques Craig, as i have believed since meeting her, but actually Jock Craig, and he lived in Aspen where he owned a ski shop back in ’68.
I google “jock c- aspen” and this is what came up:
My brother Jock was born in N.Vancouver, BC April 28,1936. His last
know address was in Aspen, CO in 1968. He liked to ski, fly and sail.
He was seen in the Mediterranean 1978. Have not heard of any other
Jock sightings since then. If you have any information please contact
me at my e-mail address. Thank you, Patricia S-
Entry #3940 added on March 29, 1997
I e-mailed her. No answer. I was leaving the next day for Europe where Maja and i were having a vacation which would end with us getting married in Belgrade. So i wrote her an actual, physical letter and sent it by post 10 minutes before boarding the Super Shuttle to head off to our first stop in Barcelona.
Days later, in Barcelona, i checked my e-mail.
I was delighted, shocked, surprised, overcome and most of all grateful for your letter that arrived in my mail box just a few minutes ago. The sun is truly shining for me today.
Yes Jock is my brother and I would be happy to share anything I can with you regarding him.
No I have not been able to find him nor have I had any information on him in many years. I thought I had found him in Italy once but it turned out to be a dead end eventually. I am in contact with my nephew (Jock’s son ) We
e-mail and talk on the phone often ..He is now grown and looks like Jock and has that same old charm and blarney. He is a wonderful young man and it is for him that I have looked over the years also for my mother who lived with us until she died four years ago. She never gave up hope that we would find him. I had to turn it over to Spirit and accept that if I was ever to know him or of him it would be in God’s hands….And so it is……..
I thank you for writing to me and look forward to hearing from you anytime.
Blessings love and light,
Patricia S— (Patsy)
So i wrote back, not saying very much and telling her i would write her in length in a day or two (we were travelling around Europe) Patsy sent another email with a photo:
I wrote her back and told her who i was. I told her that her brother had impregnated a woman years ago and when she told him she was pregnant he told her he was actually married and never, ever to call him again. (note: the actual quote he said is “If you ever call me again i’ll get 18 guys to swear on a witness stand they all had sex with you.”)
I told her how i found her and a bit about me. We met shortly after and have stayed in touched ever since. She is a wonderful, wonderful person and i have grown to love her like family. Her brother however, remained missing.
PART 2 (email to friends 18 months later. Birth father surfaces)
So y’all kinda remember that whole business involving tracking down my aunt on my father‘s side 18 months ago just before my wedding?
Well. So a week ago i get an e-mail from my Aunt Patsy:
” hi I found my brother and he is going to send his health history for you.”
A rather short statement that rocked my world.
So i called her. Through a long and involved story, she had tracked down a name, John C-, to Vancouver. She called the number and asked for John C-.
The man on the other end replied that there was no one there with that name. She then asked if his name was John Gwynne Craig, and explained that he had the same name as her long lost brother who she had been searching for for decades. Since the full name was a bit rare, she thought that maybe he could be him, but if not, she was sorry to bother him, it’s just that she’d been searching for so long.
There was a long pause. Then he said “Hi Patsy.”
They talked for a bit, but not too long, as it was a bit difficult for each of them. He, as it turned out, had been in the Orient most of this time, Captaining various ships around the region. He had lived in Singapore for a bit, Bahrain, maybe the Phillipines, i myself didn’t catch everything as my brain was a bit overwhelmed. He had in this time been married, for 20 years, although his wife was dead now. He had had Tuberculosis but had beaten it, and recently some kind of liver cancer which he had also beaten. He said the Teberculosis was from smoking insane amounts of cigarettes during the long night hauls on the freighters.
She asked him if he knew he had 2 sons.
He told her he only had one, T, who he of course remembered from long ago.
She asked him if he remembered a woman named Gaile, and told him that he had in fact impregnated this woman, and she had given birth to a son named Paul, who was raised by a family in Pittsburgh and had turned out quite well.
He told her he lived with a great, great burden of guilt and shame.
She told him maybe it was time to let it go and start healing. They ended the conversation there.
She said she forgot to give him her number, and he hadn’t asked (although whether from forgetfulness or purpose she couldn’t say)
She said she told him that I and my wife were planning on having a child and that we could use a health history. He promised to get her one.
And that was that. We talked for a good long time afterwards and i was left wandering about my apartment, smoking until i collapsed.
PART 3 (letter to birth father)
This is Paul Shapera.
Apparently, i am blood of your blood. More to the point, i’m your, uh, son. This is a really strange situation in which to write, but what the hell, this chance doesn’t really come around all that often, so here it goes.
I guess if i’ve always planned, or thought that if i ever got the chance to say anything, it would in a nutshell be THANK YOU.
Which seems a weird thing to say, except that, well, when you’re adopted, you pretty much know from the get go that there were extenuating circumstances surrounding your birth (i was never sat down and “told one day” i was adopted. my mother would tell me as a baby that i was adopted but that she was mother now, before i could even speak or understand language, so i’ve just simply always known). So you also know that it was a bit of an accident that you’re here, but then most things in life are strange “accidents”, but that doesn’t make them any less profound. I was brought up just fine, with a loving family and the usual ups and down, so i’ve never suffered for lack of anything important.
So pretty much i’m just glad to be here. What might have been a whole strange situation back then for the parties involved, to ME is actually the best thing that ever happened to me. It brought me here, and i REALLY, REALLY am glad to be here. So whatever whims of fate brought it to pass are fantastic in my book, and mostly, i’m just extremely thankful. I really love life, all the ups and downs and everything. You, your genes, hell, even the exact moment of conception, all these things are crucial factors that led to me being me, and i’m grateful for it all.
What makes being adopted interesting, is that you know there’s a bit of story, some drama, that surrounds the circumstances of your conception, and of course, the great mystery of who it was who brought you here, and what your blood history is. Stuff like what nationality you are is a great mystery.
I met Gaile when i was about 20, so a lot of stuff got answered then, and i was delighted to know. Any weirdness surrounding the circumstances is to me a wonderful story. Like i said, i’ve always known there had to be some unforseen drama since otherwise i wouldn’t have been adopted. This is something i got used to so long ago, there’s really nothing there left to “deal with”. Any filling in of the story is just a gift. And since i’m really happy with who i am, none of it bothers me in the least.
So… one just wonders who both birth parents were and what their stories are. I know i share some of your traits, both physical and behavioral, i just don’t know exactly what they are yet. You’ve lived a long life and i’m curious as to what all has happened in it. Anything at all is incredible information to me, the good, the bad, the triumphs, the tragedies, the likes, the dislikes, any of it at all, as little or as much is all wonderful to me.
I don’t know how much to share about myself, and one of my biggest worries is that i’m going to scare you off, since this is a very strange situation and could potentially be overwhelming. I don’t know anybody else who has been here to use as a yardstick as to how to do this.
So the biggest thing i would want to get across is that I am just simply grateful as to even have the opportunity to write this e-mail and know that it will be read. And if this is all that occurs, it will have been more then i ever expected or asked for.
I’m a musician. I compose and produce music, as you know. I play piano, and love to sit and play and sing. LOVE to sing. I’m married. My wife is from Serbia. We got married twice. The first time we were friends and got married for a passport. We ended up together, and after about 7 years decided to marry again in a church for real.
I read a LOT. This i got from my adopted mother, who’s a librarian. She would bring home piles of books every day and this gave me a deep love of reading that i never got over.
I was a bit indulgent in my 20s but this faded as i got into my 30s. I have fortunately never developed any truly bad habits or addictions (although i smoke, but only at night. however i do love to smoke a bit more than i want to give it up, but maybe in time…). I have a small tendency for avoidance and can be a little passive aggressive, but also as i’ve gotten older this has become better. (having a serbian wife has also helped a lot)
I move around a LOT, although i ended up in new york for WAY longer than i ever intended. I used to travel around the country in an SUV i had during the 90s a whole bunch and i miss that. Once we get to europe we’ll be buying a car and i can’t WAIT. I love to drive and i especially love to travel.
I’m REALLY glad to finally be getting out of NY. I want to be someplace less insanely urban very badly. I miss nature a LOT. We’ll see how eastern europe treats me, but i’m excited to be making another move.I have a LOT of energy and have always had a lot of energy. I REALLY enjoy walking, can keep it up forever, and have a very strong metabolism. I have thus far never looked even close to my age. This despite a bit of overindulgence in my 20s.
That’s about all i think of. This e-mail has gone on for way longer than i intended, but like i said, if i only get one chance….
So i’m going to bring it to a close here. To recap, i’m EXCEPTIONALLY delighted to have this opportunity simply just say hi and thank you for bringing me here. I would love to know any stories you might have about your life, anything at all, but there is no pressure in the slightest. Like i said, i’m just really happy to know that you exist and to have met Patsy, and to just simply know more than i did before.
Ah, bloody hell, might as well just send this off before i start re-examining and over-thinking it.
I wish you nothing but incredible amounts of happiness and peace.
PART 4 (father replies)
After sending it, later that night, i became absolutely tortured with the idea that i had fucked everything up. Had made fool of myself. Had handled it totally wrong. The truth is i wrote sincerely and honestly, but this of course left me totally exposed and i had a horrendous night.
Today, mid afternoon, i received a reply.
So we arranged to meet. I was moving to Europe in 2 weeks so the time frame to do with was limited. I bought a ticket to Vancouver for the following weekend.
PART 6 (email to friends the night before leaving to meet father for the first time)
I sit here now, on the eve of my journey to Vancouver, to meet John-Gwynne Craig, bring a life long quest to a conclusion, and see and talk to the man who brought me into this life.
Obviously, this e-mail thread will have one last chapter to be written at the conclusion of this weekend, which, writing here and now, seems a lifetime away.
I’m terrified, excited, sometimes strangely calm and sometimes on the verge of tears.
But i want to take a preparatory e-mail before the big finale (and hopefully beginning of a new era) and thank you all. Mostly for 2 things.
Writing these threads as this has all been happening has been extremely cathartic and very helpful in helping me to emotionally digest this drama as it’s unfolded.
You are also the people i love most in this world, and i have never felt with such deepness the importance, the almost sublime…. sacredness of these connections as i do now.
i don’t know how i’m going to go through with this, other than i’m just simply going to get up in an hour, get on a train, get on a plane, just simply keep putting one foot in front of the other until i arrive at some cafe in Vancouver where a man will look at me and probably say my name.
After that it’s all a whole new world.
So… i guess thank you for being here for me, i love you so much i could cry, and see you on the other side.
TO BE CONCLUDED TOMORROW