If it wasn’t for Facebook and everyone posting pictures of their Dads; Fathers day would pass without me ever even realizing it. You see I never knew my father, and I was never even lucky enough to enjoy a step-father because well, my Mom made bad relationship choices and none of her dudes stuck around long enough for me to attach myself to them – which in hind sight is a good thing because my Mom didn’t make good choices when it came to the men she dated.
When I was younger I would fantasize about who my dad was, what he was like, and what kind of relationship we would have had I ever spent time with him. I also spent some time trying to find him when I was younger, but gave up. It wasn’t like it is now where I could post an update an Facebook and if it got to enough people to share it I could eventually stage a reunion on Oprah. By the time the Internet made it much easier to search for people, my dad had passed away. So, in some way I did eventually find him, but obviously – there was no tearful reunion, there was no moment where he said to me that he regretted not being a part of my life, or even on the dark side – no comment that he left and never looked back and never wanted too. I just don’t know his thoughts, and I never will.
The details my Mom gave me about him are scattered and disjointed. I regret in some ways not questioning her more about him and from what I can piece together from what I do know – well, I don’t know that I can blame him for not being around. I am pretty sure it was kind of my Mom’s fault – or both of them. You see my Dad was married when my mom had me. I think he had two other kids, and I am pretty sure that I was conceived as a trap. My Mom seemed to have a thing for married men after she divorced my brothers Dad. She married once again after that (which is where I get my last name from even though I am no relation to the guy) but that happened and ended before I was born. Mom’s relationships after that were all on some level impossible to make work (mostly because the men she dated had other families to worry about).
According to my Mom, she really really loved my Dad. I found a letter she had written him after she passed away – and it was obviously one of those letters written to never actually be seen by him. She talked about how she loved him, and how much she wanted to be with him (the innuendo there was her desire for him to leave his family and be with her). Apparently their relationship was sporadic at best and I was the result of a hook up in honor of my Mom’s birthday. She always said I was the best birthday present ever – which I believe, but that also came with some information that has made me feel a bit guilty my entire life…
You see, my Mom admitted to me once that between my brother and I, she had two abortions. I’m not sure who the fathers were of those two or if they were from mine or my brothers Dads, but I am pretty sure that I was not aborted because my Mom wanted a reason for my father to leave his wife and family for her. What better way to do that then to have a baby right? Now she never came right out and said all of this. I garnered this information over years and years of conversations that I have put together like a puzzle. For instance, I learned about her abortions, because while I was actively going to church, I went through an “Abortion is murder” phase and it bothered my Mom enough for her to admit to me that she had two of them, and that she CHOSE me. I think it was meant to make me feel better – but then I have lived with the “why me” question since I learned that information. The only reason I can come up with is that I was chosen because of who my father was, and my Moms desire to be with him. What other reason could there be that I didn’t end up aborted too? It is yet another question that I will never have the complete answer for because the only two people who know the truth are dead (and I am not even sure my father knew the real truth either).
Now I know my father knew I existed – there is one picture of him and I together and in the picture I was about three months old. He looked like he was happy with me in his arms, like he wanted me there; but there is only so much you can tell from a picture that is nearly 40 years old. My Mom kept a box of stuff that belonged to him, and I found it at some point in my life. There was a picture of him as a young man and I know this guy is my dad because I am the female version of him. It freaked me out a little, because my entire life I never looked like anyone in my family. My Mom had blonde hair and blue eyes, and my brother was Mexican. My Mom was adopted so I didn’t look like my grandparents either. When I found that picture – I suddenly knew where I got my nose from (that I have hated forever), and every other feature on my face. I am a carbon copy of a man I have never really met. I also found out some other stuff from the contents of that box – my Dad was apparently very involved with the Lyons Club, he was a heating and air conditioning repairman, and he had several aliases (which explains why he was so hard to find) – the only things I found with his real name are my birth certificate, a census record from 1940, and his death record which I found on Ancestry.com.
In the interest of the whole “six degrees of separation” theory I am going to go ahead and post his name as I know it, some of the other names I have found, and the locations that I am aware of. Maybe one of you will know someone who is related to him. That is my goal now. I want to find my family. I have no expectations from them, except that I want to know where I come from.
Birth Name: Rene Gaston Fontaine; Aliases: Ray, Raymond
From: Massachusetts (family is from Quebec, Canada – maybe)
Lived and died in or near Carlsbad, Ca. or San Diego, Ca. (Southern California)
Died: July 8th, 2000 (Exactly one year after my Mom passed away on July 8th, 1999) Weird huh?
Not a lot of information to go on is it? I tried looking at the actual census record, and I also tried requesting his death certificate from the State of California because that would list his “next-of-kin”, but I don’t have the money to spend on the search. You can find a lot of information for free – but the information that could actually help me find my real next of kin all costs money to discover. The only way I will get answers for free is if I can find someone who knew him or is related to him that is willing to come forward.
So maybe this Fathers day is a time for me to renew my search for my own identity. I have no real illusions that I will ever get the answers I want, and I have no expectations from anyone should I end up finding my ‘family’ other than to know that I do in fact have a family history. It’s there – I just can’t see it. I really want to know. I have always wanted to know. I honestly don’t know what I would do with the information once I have it, but I would like to be able to at least answer the question, “what is your ancestry?” at some point in my life. Were my ancestors immigrants from Canada? With a name like Rene Gaston Fontaine I am pretty sure I am French Canadian somewhere in my line – but I have no proof of it. What made my father leave Mass. and opt for California? What kind of guy was he? All I know is that he cheated on his wife and family with my Mom – so that doesn’t bode well that my dad was a great guy or family man (or maybe he was – maybe he made a mistake (me) and turned his life around at some point). I won’t ever know unless someone out there is willing to tell me.
I know the answers are out there somewhere and my only regret in this is that I will never be able to get answers directly from him or my Mom and they are the only two that know the real story. Maybe though – he talked to someone about me and my Mom, and maybe that someone has his side of the story. Even if that side is completely biased against me – I would still like to know the story. I would still like to know where I come from.
So Dear Readers, do you know who your family is? Have you ever searched for someone and found them? How did that turn out? What are you thinking about this Fathers Day?