Friday, June 15, 2007

Love Is Thicker Than Blood

On the drive back home after our visit with three generations of my ancestors, talk naturally gravitated towards others in my family tree. We started talking about the history of my biological father's side of the family. The Schmitz family came to Iowa early after Iowa joined the union but only the last three five generations or so have lived in a nearby part of Iowa. My wife curious to see their farm and me wondering if I could still find it after 25 years of absence, decided to drive by it.

For those new to my blog, my biological father left when I was only six years old and never came back. Though he only lives about 40 miles from where I currently live, I still have not seen him in over 25 years. His parents, my grandparents, stayed in contact with me until my teen years but time gradually caused us to drift apart. I saw my grandma on my high school graduation day in the receiving line and haven't seen her since. A few years ago my grandfather died and after finding out several months after the fact, I wrote to my grandma offering my condolences. A gradual correspondence of a couple letters a year has begun since then.

My memory of the location was correct although nothing looked familiar. Only a sign on the mailbox with the Schmitz name assured me that we were in the right place. As I drove by, there was a car in the garage signaling that someone may be home so on the spur of the moment, we found a place to turn around and drove up the drive to the house. Before we could answer the door, one of my aunts opened it and stepped outside to greet us. At first she didn't recognize me but within a few seconds I could see that she did and we hugged. My grandmother was working in a nearby town but we stayed for a half hour anyway and talked a bit.

We decided to drive by where my grandmother worked since she would be on a lunch break at the time. When I stepped in the door, there were only two others in the entire place and I could immediately see which one was my grandmother. She had her back turned to us as she was getting her food. She walked over to a table, sat her food down and glanced up at me. I asked her if she remembered me and after a few puzzled seconds, she rushed forward and gave me a teary hug. I introduced her to my wife but because she had a friend with her for lunch and it was probably short, we only talked a couple minutes before leaving.

My father was her oldest child and I am the oldest grandchild so I know I hold a special place in her heart. But because my father chose to leave and never come back, I never had a complete or normal relationship with that side of the family. The only people that I really remember are my grandmother and the aunt that answered the door because they were the ones that came for those Christmas visits in my younger years. My grandfather and father are but blurred memories.

My grandmother of course said that I need to come again and perhaps I will. She would like for me to come to a family reunion and meet everyone and though unmentioned, my father, but I doubt that I will. I have no emotional ties to him and nothing physical other than some DNA. However the biggest reason is that my stepfather is my father and has been for the last 25 years. I do love him dearly and I wouldn't want him to think otherwise by pursuing a relationship with my biological father for really no reason.

So the day had been bittersweet. I had "met" three generations of Abbey's that had produced the man that became my father. I also rediscovered the grandmother of my other father, a man whom I really don't know. After it all, I have come to the conclusion that although blood is thicker than water, love is thicker than blood.

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