Mary Ellen Gambutti
For Our Fathers
Just as Mother's Day may not be a cause to celebrate, for adoptees, Father's Day can stir up a memory soup of mixed feelings. The holiday might trigger a sad reflection or a joyful memory, whether or not you're adopted. For me, that is true.
My essay is a memory piece--a collage of place and time--a story about my dad's child. You can read it under my featured guest's post.
Author-blogger, Paige Adams Strickland has written a tender essay expressing affection for her biological father, as she sees his face in her sweet grandson's.
My Birthfather's Legacy
I am spending part of my summer vacation time with my adorable grandson. He is only 2 1/2, but he is inquisitive, energetic, and talkative. My daughter is concerned that COVID Times have stunted his development, but I am not seeing any signs of it. When I put on my “teacher hat” I see a happy, sometimes silly, curious little boy who wants to know how the world works and what is the word for "this and that." He plays fine with his first cousins (more like size-by-side than “with" but this is typical behavior for the age). He is a delight.
An added bonus I experience while enjoying moments with my grandson is gazing at his face and seeing bits and pieces of so many people I know or have known, including myself. It’s absolutely amazing to see how the DNA chips have fallen. I wonder whether non-adopted people think as much about this as I do. I suppose it would be a challenge to compare notes. The non-adopted reflect on this to some extent, but the impact appears to be so much deeper and more intense among adoptees.
Besides my daughter and son-in-law, the person I see glimpses of the most is my birth father. He passed away in 2015, and even though we were not super-close or had “deep” conversations, I miss his presence in my life. He was good people. I never knew him as a younger man, but I am pretty sure my grandson has a fair share of his great-grandfather in him. Both are/were outgoing, have/had strong opinions, and have had no problem expressing points of view on issues. Both have/had a charming, “teddy bear” side but also a hot temper when not getting their way. Mostly, I see my birth father in my grandson’s smile. It’s fun-loving, devilish, and be-dimpled with a twinkle in the eyes. See for yourself:
When I look at my grandson, all I want to do is make him smile so that I can see my birth father’s face one more time. I want to revel in his one-man-party vibe and hear his chuckle, watch his amazement and ride his emotional wave of excitement, thrill, and zest.
My grandson will never know his biological great-grandfather in person, but I can share all the details I have amassed over the years. I can assure him that he comes from patriotic, dedicated hard workers who do the job right the first time and take pride in their crafts, plus love their free time when they can connect with people who matter most and spread joy. Whether this kid becomes a history “nerd”, athlete, or news junkie like his great-grandpa remains to be seen. For now, he is jolly and at peace when he is with people who love him. His grin is infectious and his sense of humor is spot-on. He is cordial, bright, and confident.
I absolutely know where these traits come from. I miss my birth father more than I would have imagined, but I still can visit the best parts of him when I spend time with his great-grandson.
You can add Paige's two memoirs to your reading list. They can be found on Amazon here:
Al Caffrey, the only father I knew, had been an Army-Air Force camera tech in India, during WWII. During the Korean War, he was recalled to the Air Force and was assigned duties as an Assistant Photo Officer in a photo squadron. In 1951, his squadron was transferred to Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, South Carolina. His wife, Agnes, left her Brooklyn Public Health Nursing job and joined him. He was thirty-one; she was thirty.
Al was unable to have "a child of his own," so they decided on adoption at the urging of their priest. They "chose" me--without knowledge of my biological parentage--"out of the goodness of their hearts," their priest might have said.
(c) Mary Ellen Gambutti
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Until next time, later this summer...
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