I am on the edge of my chair as I type. I hate to type but this is something that I must share. My thoughts and my heart are leaping with joy. From the inside out. We have all been locked up tight since March, some before and some after the beginning of spring. Each day I do my best to live my fullest life. And then, THIS.
Now, I would like to share this story with you.
My cousin Christa called me out of the blue on a Sunday evening to share with me a discovery that she made on Ancestry.com. About 65 years ago, one of our great-uncles had two children that no one knew about. They were revealed with a 100% DNA match. This is how the world is working now. Because one of them is biracial, some family members tried to sweep it under the rug. This hurts me to the core. Not our generation. My cousins reached out our virtual arms with Zoom links and have been hosting happy hours and developing friendships with our new cousins. Cousins of all ages. We do not experience any judgement on any of it. They are family. That is all. (Now my wife isn’t the only black person in our family. LOL) We are planning to meet in person in November- first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, and their children, who are my fourth cousins. Whoever wants to attend, will. My cousins and I agree that life is precious, and we don’t have time for negativity and hate. We must embrace one another. That is our plan. We have found a lot of things in common, our service to others, creativity, our noses, and some of us look just alike. They are the image of their father/grandfather. So much to look forward to during a really rough couple of months.
After just one week of knowing my new cousin, Keondra, and assisting them with our family tree, she contacted me inquiring about Antonio Izzi. Well, he was our great-grandfather. Also, I explained, my father is Tony and my brother is also Tony. The short version of this part of the story is that I have a half-brother who is 55 years old! Not scandalous. My dad and his girlfriend got pregnant at age 17. You know, when two people love each other very, very much….LOL
They were planning to marry but as you know in the sixties, many parents did not approve. My dad had gotten a good job and was ready to marry. She was to have the baby and give it up for adoption. When her parents did not approve, dad shared with me that he had to just get in the car and drive away. I imagine this was so difficult for both of them. Fifty five years have gone by.
You know me. I wanted to know my brother, at least see his face. I begged Keondra to tell me his name. She didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. I begged. He is my brother. I am forever grateful to her for encouraging us to connect. I made the irresistible call to my dad and mom to be sure it was ok with both of them. My mom got tears in her eyes and simply shared that her father told her 53 years ago when she married my dad that one day his son would come knocking on the door and he knew she would welcome him with open arms. God bless her.
The answer was YES. On July 27th I sent a message to Fred on Facebook.
“Hi. I am your sister. If you would like to chat…” Definitely a shot in the dark. But, if I have learned anything in my 52 years, it doesn’t ever hurt to ask. I was prepared for no response. I was ready to be rejected and I was checking my phone every five minutes for a reply.
Within a few hours, I heard back from him. We chatted via text. Then facetime. Then, a week later, a Zoom chat with our entire family. I warned from the beginning that he is stuck with us now. So many feelings surfaced for each of us. He explained that he was seeking medical history and not “looking” for his birth parents. Ha, now he has ME. LOL Dad just rolls his eyes at me.
He grew up and had a wonderful life in Lebanon Pa., just an hour from here. He is a graduate of Lehigh University. He continues to work in the food industry and loves his fun career as a drummer. He is a beautiful man, full of love and gratitude. We continue to get to know each other and our spouses share our excitement.
His birth mom and I became Facebook friends and have become good friends. We laugh that we have 30 mutual Facebookfriends, many who are our closest friends. Again, I feel like this is how the world works now. She is an amazing woman. Phyllis and I listened to her story. With tears in our eyes, we were awakened to the fact that so many young moms were “sent away” to have their babies, never to see them again. She and my dad never knew the baby’s name and never had a way of finding him. It was a boy and he was named Anthony at the time of his birth. The heartbreak of what she has endured all of these years has been overwhelming. Not knowing what kind of life he has had, was he healthy, does he have a family? Is he successful? I just want to hug her and never ever let go. We agree that we have a special connection and she is stuck with me too. She told Dad that I am a force of nature. I am still trying to figure out if that is a good or bad thing. Like a tornado?
There are so many things Fred and I have in common. We share the same heart and much of our brains are similar as well. (I know, watch out!) We have the same feet (dad’s feet), both love people, books, drumming, singing, fitness, cooking, Italian traditions, happy hour, adventure, and living every day to the fullest. We are both planners, list makers, and social butterflies. Maybe he is tornado too? Fred told me that he could never figure out why he loves Italy so much, but now has a very clear understanding. He is half Italian. One day we will travel there together and maybe even all retire there to celebrate the rest of our lives.
Dad has a smile on his face that I have never seen before. Its life enriching. My mom has been so wonderful, never questioning meeting, knowing, or inviting Fred and his family to join ours. It brings tears to my eyes to witness the love that my parents share. So strong and secure. My mom is the most generous and loving, kind woman that I know. I am happy and proud to share them with Fred and his family. Our family is amazing and now there are four kids.
A few days ago, Fred and Felicia arrived from San Diego, to meet his birth parents and our families. I have been counting down the days. Tonight is the meet-the-parents dinner at a fine Italian restaurant. I wish I could be a fly on the wall. I know that Fred and Felicia are sharing so much joy in the moments. I am delighted for my dad to know his oldest son. I managed to get a screen shot of their arrival at the house. (I suppose that is stalkerish…sorry but look at those smiles!)
Tomorrow we will gather as the Izzi Family for a celebratory dinner. Mom, Dad, my three brothers and three sisters-in-law and all of my beautiful nieces and nephews. There is a whole big, bright, loving future waiting for each us. We are creating memories and sharing stories. We are planning vacations, pouring wine, discussing our love for the Philadelphia sports teams, and will prepare homemade pasta with some Maryland crabs. I can only share my part of the story. There are about eight other versions as well.
God bless us all, always. Let us always live in love, in gratitude, and count our blessings.
Fred Glick & Tony Izzi, Sr.
Photo by Susan Tiernan 9/14/20