Epilogue...

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Since I've posted my story to the internet, and after someone has read it, I receive an email with that person's thoughts regarding the impact my story has had on them. Quite often, a natural follow-up question is asked of me. Has Kevin ever expressed an interest in meeting his birthfather, Paul? I will, to some degree, finally answer that question.

As I write this, I think of all that could have been. Sounds mysterious, doesn't it? We all are hopeful for 'good endings' and 'positive results', however, some things are just not meant to be.

During the fall of 1996, Kevin and I were able to spend time together during several weekend visits. Each time Kevin arrived at our doorstep, I would look at him and think how much he resembled his birthfather, Paul. Kevin's facial features, the way he walked, his physique, his complexion, his height, his expressions... even his smile. In my mind's eye, Kevin's remarkable resemblance to Paul was a constant reminder to me that I was experiencing a new relationship that I couldn't/shouldn't keep to myself. I started to feel guilty for not letting Paul know about his son.I had made this wonderful discovery and I wanted Paul to see his son... to acknowledge him, in some small way. But, more than that, I wanted Paul to know Kevin as the wonderful young man that he had become. I thought, "How can I continue to build this relationship with Kevin and not share this wonderful young man with Paul"... I asked Kevin if he wanted me to help him make a contact with his birthfather? Initially, he said, "Not right now."... there are enough new people in my life right now to keep me busy... and besides, you're as much as I can handle." (With a smile crossing my face, I took that as a wonderful compliment) So, with that decision made for me, by Kevin, I pushed the thought aside about contacting Paul.

About two months passed, and during that time, Kevin and I had several more visits with one another. Again, the constant reminders of Paul haunted me and I decided that Paul had a 'right' to know about my discovery and the possibility of establishling a relationship with his son. As much as I wanted to keep Kevin all to myself, I felt I should share this young man's existance with his birthfather.

Without Kevin's knowledge, or agreement, I decided to take the risk of re-establishing contact with Paul. I wanted to explain to him exactly how I had made my discovery of our son. I'd been completely out of touch with him since the fall of 1972, when he left for Quito, Equador to start working for NASA, and I had no idea of what had become of him.

Once my decision was made, I started to write Paul a letter. About half-way through the composition of the letter, I thought... now, how in the world am I ever going to send it to him, I don't even know where he lives? (When I give myself a project, I organize my thoughts from beginning to end. However, in my haste to compose the letter, and without thinking it through to the end, I chastised myself for not even having an address to send it to.) My "Sherlock-Holmes" nature took over and I decided I had better figure out a way to locate him. I opened my CD Pro-Phone program and did a search for his phone number and address. Nothing materialized, but as I was glancing through the list, I noticed a listing for Joe and Rita's phone number. Amazingly, they were still in the same location. OK, piece of cake... I'll just call Paul's Mom and pretend that I'm a long, lost school chum and ask for his current address. Should I contact them? Do I dare take the risk of one of them recognizing my voice over the phone? I hesitated. No... try another name... maybe one of Paul's brothers will be listed? I only remembered a couple of the sibling names, and when I did a search for them, nothing concrete turned up. "Ok, Denise, bite the bullet, get the phone in your hand, and call Paul's parents' phone number". I punched up the phone number, my heart pounding so fast and hard, I thought it was going to jump right out of my chest. A woman's voice answered, I said, "Mrs. C?" "Yes?", she asked. Heart pounding, I identified myself and with great anticipation said, "This is Denise and I'm trying to locate Paul". I continued. "I was wondering if you might be able to give me his mailing address or phone number so that I might be able to reach him?" She asked, "Are you a friend from school?" "Yes", I replied. "Do you know who you're talking to?", she asked. "Yes, you're Paul's mother". She cleared her throat and in a small, shakey voice said to me, "Well, yes I am, and this is very difficult, but, Paul died 4 years ago". I went numb with shock and started to cry very softly. Unanswered questions raced through my head. "What happened?", I choked out. She responded, "He died nearly four years ago, in Germany, of a massive heart attack... " I cleared my throat and decided to identify myself to her. I wanted her to know that her news to me was more signifigant than just to a passing school acquaintance. "Rita", I said through my tears, "This is Denise..." She collected herself and said very quietly, "Yes, I thought it was. So, why are you calling?" Through my crying, I replied, "Oh, Rita, I am so sorry... I wasn't expecting anything like this by my call... I just wanted Paul's address... I wanted to contact him to let him know that I had located our son and I wanted to write him a letter to give him a choice of whether he wanted to know about him or not." "Denise, this is very uncomfortable, you calling like this... it's not a good time and it's very difficult." "Rita, I am so sorry... is your husband ok? are the other kids OK?" "Yes, they're fine"... I asked, "Don't you have a son, Patrick?"... "Yes, he's living near Cincinnati" "Can you tell me what happened with Paul?"... "He was married, you know? He had a family." "Mrs. C.", I asked, "does his wife know that I had a son with Paul?" "I don't know.", she stated. "You don't think he EVER mentioned him to her?"... "I don't know"... "Will you say anything to her about my phone call?"... she replied with an emphatic, "NO!" "Did he ever have any other children?"... "Yes, a son," she added. "Oh, I had no idea. You mean another son?"... in a very clipped voice, she said, "Yes." From the tone of her voice, I could tell that Paul's mother was becoming annoyed with me because of the content of our conversation. I decided to take the risk and continued on with my questions. I wanted to attempt to make a connection with her and make her realize that Paul lived on in Kevin... to make her understand that Paul's death wasn't the final essence of his existance. "I'd like to tell you about Kevin... he's so wonderful and he looks so much like Paul, you wouldn't believe it... he has his stature and ..." Mrs C. cut me off and interrupted my description of Kevin, "Denise, this isn't a good time to be calling. I feel very uncomfortable talking to you about this." Very haltingly and very slowly, I added... "I'm sorry Mrs. C... but you know, this is your Grandson, too."... After an EXTREMELY long pause, she finally replied in a very soft voice, "Yes, I know." I asked, "May I give you my phone number and address and if you ever change your mind, you could contact me about Kevin?" "All right"...

I gave her my address and phone number and then said, "Good-bye." That's how we ended our phone conversation...

I stared at the phone and was numb with grief. I was devestated by this news and surprised at the emotional toll it was having on me. I cried for all that could have been between Paul and his first-born son, Kevin. I cried for Kevin because he would never have an opportunity to know his birth-father. And then, I realized... all my hopes of telling Paul about Kevin were over. I felt cheated by Paul's death because I had wanted to tell him how wonderful Kevin was. A chapter had closed so unexpectantly... and it took my breath away.

I wanted to call Kevin right away and tell him about my discovery, but there were some questionsthat I knew he would ask and I needed to come to terms with the answers that I would give him. First of all, how would Kevin react when I told him that I had tried to contact his birthfather without his prior knowledge? Would Kevin be disappointed with me? Would he be angry? I hoped not. Secondly, how would Kevin react to this news? Certainly not in the same way that I had. He didn't have an emotional tie to Paul in the same way that I did... I just needed time to sort out the details and tell him in the best possbile way I could think of. I decided to tell Kevin at a later time, as this news would affect him at an emotionally different level then its impact had on me. In time, I would tell him about Paul's death, but I needed to verify it first. I wasn't trusting of Mrs. C.'s information. The thought crossed my mind that she might have been 'inventing' this story just to keep me from making a contact with Paul. Horrible thought, I know. But, I wanted to be sure of its accuracy before I shared it with Kevin.

Within a month, I had my answers. I called and talked with a very compassionate funeral home director who shared, with me, the details of Paul's death. He told me that Paul did, indeed, die of a massive heart attack in Germany on 7 Feb 1993. Paul's immediate family was with him and he left a wife and son to grieve his passing. The director also gave me the chronological names of Paul's siblings, and a phone number to call one of them... if I chose to.

Did I? Yes. I called one of Paul's brothers and asked him if he remembered me. "Of course, I remember you", he responded. "Well", I continued, "I have some rather interesting news to tell you." I asked him if he ever remembered being told of why Paul and I broke up? He said, "No, you were there, and then you were gone. We were all younger and no-one ever explained anything to any of us kids." I then, very carefully, told him of Kevin's existance. Paul's brother was very understanding and very accepting of the news, although, very surprised. He had no prior knowledge of my pregnancy nor was there ever any explanation made, to him or any of Paul's siblings, as to my unexpected departure from the family gatherings. To him, I just disappeared one day and never came back. He also explained to me that, in addition to his not knowing about my pregnancy, none of his siblings knew that I had ever had Paul's baby, either.

(This last statement from Paul's brother really surprised me. How could I have been so easily forgotten about? I had been so open with my immediate family members and friends during my pregnancy. Throughout the years, and as society's acceptance of out-of-wedlock pregnancies increased, I, myself,had opened up more about my past and quietly talked about it with my friends and co-workers. How could Paul have kept this important piece of information to himself for 22 years? How could his 'own' immediate family members not have been told about me or our son? Even in death, I felt rejected by Paul all over again.)

His brother continued, "You've been blessed with the way Kevin has been raised." "Yes, I was", I replied. He said he was sorry for what happened but was glad that I had called so he could know about Kevin. I asked him if he had a picture of Paul, so that I might be able to pass it along to Kevin? (I thought it would be nice for Kevin to have so that he might have an idea of what he would look like in his later adult years.) Paul's brother explained to me, "I really want to absorb this news from you and talk to my Mom and Dad, but I'll take your address."

I've never heard back from him, nor received a picture. Another Chapter closed.

With Paul's death verified, I needed to contact Kevin and tell him what I had found out about his paternal birth family members...

More questions before me... What do I say to Kevin and how will he react?

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