Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking at My Future

As long time readers know, I like to verify and investigate things using what I believe is one of the best tools at my disposal, Google. When I meet someone new, I often will type their name into Google to see what comes up. Most of the time it is nothing or rather a vast array of hits of people with the same name so that it makes it impossible to disseminate any information on the person I was interested in. Occasionally I find little tidbits of information about the person that provides a little bit of background of their life. Some people might call this cyber stalking but I never repeat my search once I've done one and I don't use the information for any sort of gain. In fact, I mostly forget about it. It probably is a fine line but I think I fall on the right side of it.

To be equal opportunity, I often do what is called an 'ego search' and see what information is out there about myself. Fortunately, though my name isn't common, with a third of a billion people in this country, it crops up often enough that I'm one of those people you can't find anything about unless you already know what you are looking for. I have always been a believer in using a pseudonym when creating internet accounts to minimize floating cyber information and it has done exactly that.

While doing genealogy work, I often follow-up any records search with a Google search because it is surprising how well it works even on dead ancestors. One evening while doing just this, nothing new that I already didn't know popped up but it got me thinking along a different track. I was working on my direct paternal lineage and I got to wondering what information was out there on my father.

Now you might think that I know way more information than Google does on my own father but I don't. My parents were divorced when I was six years old and in the intervening thirty plus years, I've only seen my father once and that was when I was six and a half years old. It's been awhile. I don't regret this fact and in a way, I think it was best especially after having seen other kids of divorced parents struggle with the situation. I just had a mom and got on with my life. She remarried a couple years later and that man has been my father in every aspect of my life except genetics. I am blessed.

But I don't know anything about my real father except for his name, where he lives (20 miles from where I grew up and only about 50 miles away now) and a few hazy memories of him when he was in his early 20's. So I Googled his name. It was as most names are, lost in a sea of cyber clutter and didn't yield any results. However by adding the town where he lives into the search string, I was presented with several pages of results pertaining to him. Perhaps even more interesting to me, there were at least a dozen pictures of him all pertaining to an organization that he is active in.

My father is only 19 years older than I am and the pictures, all within the last five years, are most likely what I will look like in twenty years and hence, the title of this post. It certainly wasn't how I pictured myself to look like but it isn't a terrible fate. I see an older man who is much wiser now, hardened a bit by the elements and work, always wearing a hat so I'm assuming he is much further down the path to baldness than I am, and with a nice looking mustache. I also see a stranger who looks nothing like the man in my thirty-some year old memories.

I have always known that he eventually remarried and a few years ago after my paternal grandfather died, I re-established contact with my paternal grandmother and during the course of our contact learned that I had a half sister from that marriage. I also learned that he married a third time but has no kids from his current wife. I've never known that name of my half sister or even where she lives. I suppose I could ask my paternal grandmother but it might be one of those things where my half sister might not know that she has two half brothers and really, there probably isn't a lot to gain from contact since our connecting link is an estranged father.

I not sure how I feel about all this which is partly why I'm blogging about it. Sometimes seeing what I've written helps me figure out what I'm thinking. Seeing a picture of my father for the first time in 30+ years only solidifies that we really are just genetically related strangers. Beyond that I'm not sure. Perhaps this whole thing is like a poker game. Right now the call is to me and there hasn't been a raise yet so I'll probably just knock and see what everyone else does first.


Vince said...

My father last saw me when I was one year old, and he was dead a year before I knew about it. Now I don't know the exact circumstances with your father but it might be as well to see him soon for regardless of whether you ask him the questions you have, you will at the very least have taken the control back into your hands.
You are correct about Google it is a very good research tool, for me together with an education in history I've found out enough about my own that I'm delighted that I didn't know him.

Ed said...

Vince - My father was just young and wasn't ready to be a father. My mother was in the same boat but she didn't have a choice in the matter and did her best raising her two kids. Perhaps my biggest fear of starting a relationship with my father is that I don't want my stepfather, a man who has been my father for over thirty years in every way and whom I love deeply, to feel as if he hasn't given me everything I needed. The only reason to know my biological father is for medical reasons and I'm comfortable not knowing that.

Vince said...

I don't think there is it a question of disloyalty to anyone including yourself. And a meeting or two is far from being a relationship.
What I'm saying is make the choice for your own reasons, thereby taking the control back to yourself.

TC said...

I don't think I ever realized how common my name was until I first googled myself. Then I realized there were lots of TCs, but none of the info had to do with me!

I was disappointed at first, but now I realize it's nice. I like it.

Frank D. Myers said...

I continue to have faith in serendipity. This morning, for example, I was working with a document that referred to an 1870s activity of a man named David Fluke. A few minutes later, a woman called the historical society from Utah asking about David Fluke, who was an ancestor of hers. Which is the long way of saying if and when it's time to re-establish contact you'll most likely know. David Fluke's descendant, by the way, gave me an e-mail address that didn't work so I couldn't send her a couple of things as promised. I'm waiting to see what happens next.