April 2017 - As I mentioned in my last blog, I'm originally from Chicago proper. Luckily I have friends and family still living in the general vicinity, Elk Grove, Arlington Heights, Carrol Stream, Woodstock etc. When we are in town, we try to touch base with as many family members and friends as possible.
My Uncle Frank was living in Carrol Stream at the time and his health was failing so Dave and I made a point of going to visit him. I could have sworn he was in such a bad way that he would be unable to recognize or even hear me when I spoke to him, but as soon as I told him who I was, he lifted his head and said "all the way from California?" He slipped back into his own private world after that and his lucidness vanished.
Uncle Frank had four children total, two sons (Jim and Ken) from his first marriage and two adopted children (Krista and Kurtis) from his second. Cousins Ken and Krista were staying at the house taking care of Frank which gave us the opportunity to visit and catch up on our lives. Little did I know that a bombshell was about to be dropped, one that would change my life and others' drastically.
Ken, Uncle Frank's second son, announces that, "I have something to tell you but I don't know if you can handle it". To me, that sounded like he was dangling a hook, and I was not about to take the bait so I said, "Go ahead, I think I can take it". He proceeded to tell me that I had a brother and he knew who it was. So I said "Great, I've always wanted a brother", thinking this was some kind of sick joke. He went on to explain that his older brother Jim, was in fact, my brother too! Now before you go through the mental gymnastics, Uncle Frank is actually my step-uncle and while my parents were briefly separated, my father supposedly had an affair with his wife. At this point, I'm still of the mindset that I'm not going to give my cousin the satisfaction of seeing a shocked reaction so my response was "This keeps getting better and better, I already know and love him!".
I'm still not buying it, but I did pause to do the math. As I stated, my parents briefly separated when I was 9 months old and Jim was born 9 months after my parents separated. Still not convinced, I mulled it over for a few days before contacting the brother in question. We hadn't seen or spoken to each other since his wedding back in 82' (not because we had a problem, but unseen forces were at work to keep us apart) so I think it was a bit of a surprise to him when I called and left a message.
Jim returned my call immediately and was extremely happy to hear from me, that is until I told him the reason for my call. First we laughed because although there was a slim possibility that the rumor was true, his mother had a history of what we call "fabricating". But, Jim quickly came to the revelation that if it were true, it explained quite a lot about his life, most importantly his medical history. I jokingly suggested that I have a DNA kit sent to him just to eliminate the possibility. All of a sudden, things got very real, very fast. He commented that he may have to go back into therapy after this revelation.
The DNA kit was ordered and delivered, but Jim must have actually gone into shock, because after our initial conversation, he refused to return my calls. Periodically I would go on line and check to see if I had a new sibling, but either we weren't related or Jim never took the test. And then one day in early December, I did my periodic check for new relatives and low and behold what do I see...