When I was 8, my Dad pulled my siblings and I together and told us we had a half sister who was 14 and she was coming to live with us. As a young child, this was a shock, but also exciting. However, being so young, I didn't truly understand the story behind it all, and it took quite a bit of time for our family of 5 to process the fact that we were having a new family member move in. It was the beginning of my father sharing more about his past; which was both interesting and difficult.
My Dad was American and was born in 1948 into a military, Catholic family. He spent most of his life living in Charleston, South Carolina. When the Vietnam War began drafting soldiers, it was believed in his family that you went to war and fought for your country. My flat footed father was taught to walk with an arch, and then he enlisted. He was just over 18 years old and was shipped off with many soldiers to San Fransisco to await transport to Vietnam. It was during this time that my Father discovered another belief system: maybe war wasn't the answer. The anti-Vietnam protest movement resonated with him, and he joined in with the others at Berkley.
My Dad, 18 years old
He rebelled from the War, which labelled him a Draft Dodger. This resulted in jail, where my Father continued to protest through words, and through a hunger strike. Towards the end of his hunger strike, he was admitted to a local hospital, where he connected with a priest from a local church. It was through their relationship and an underground movement that my Dad was brought to the Canadian border with a group others and fled into Canada.
Yes, my Dad has quite the story...
All of this was shared with us, once we learned about our half sister, Kyla. My Dad met Kyla's mom a couple of years after he came to Canada. They never married, but they did live together and they had Kyla, but separated before she was even born. My Dad didn't really have a relationship with Kyla's mom, until Kyla reached out and wanted to reconnect. Kyla came to Nova Scotia and lived with us for around 6 months, but she had her own Mom and family in BC and decided to return home.
My Dad, age 26
Around 3 weeks ago, I received a message from a stranger on FaceBook, who had a photo of my Dad, knew quite a bit about his draft dodging past, and stated that we were siblings. She told me that my Dad and her Mom had a short relationship shortly after he came to Canada and in 1970 she was born (he would have been 22 at the time). This was an incredible shock! Erzhi, my new half sister had finally done DNA testing and through Ancestry.Com had found my sister and I, and was looking to find my Dad.
We are all still trying to process this information, and make sense of it all, but it's has been pretty incredible. It inspired Kyla and I to reconnect after 25 years of not seeing each other, and not speaking much. We have plans to meet up with Erzhi in person in the near future, which will be pretty amazing.
Kyla and I, January 2019
I am still trying to understand all of this, and wish so badly I could talk to my Dad about it all. I know family can be messy, complicated, and troubling; but it is also so beautiful. I have experienced so much loss in my life, but now I have two half siblings reaching out a hand, and I am ready to grab ahold and hold on tight.
My Dad and I, 2009
You never know how much your life with change one day, and that is all part of the journey and makes each of our stories so unique.
I am looking forward to this new chapter, and this new definition of my word "home", with two reconnected half siblings.