My splintered family tree has always been a source of so much hurt in my life, and I place 100% of the blame squarely at my father's feet. My father was an extremely bright, intelligent, driven man, but he was emotionally retarded. I'm not sure why his ability to love and empathize with his family was so underdeveloped, but many have suffered at his hands.
The short story is that my father married and remarried more times than anyone is sure of. I know of five wives for certain, but there are rumors of a couple others that were never confirmed. Perhaps he only lived with these women, but no one will ever know for sure.
My bio-mom had a son, my half brother, when she married my father. For my entire life I have carried around a picture of the two of us. I was still a chubby baby, no more than 3-4 months old, and he was close to two years old. I didn't see him or my bio-mom for over 20 years after my father and she split up. (I met my bio-mom face to face when I was 27. I met my brother shortly thereafter.)
Shortly after they split up, my father joined the military and left me with his parents. They raised me. (This is a whole story unto itself. My grandparents were amazing people.)
When I was seven, my father was married to another woman and had a son. Their marriage broke up so horribly that she never allowed my father to see him. She kept contact with my grandmother for a while after the divorce, but eventually her letters stopped coming. This was about 30 years ago.
The next (and final) marriage produced four children: one son, then two sons and a daughter who were triplets. Shortly after the triplets were born, my father had an affair that produced another daughter.
My father died last October. Several months after he died, I randomly wanted to know his birthday. I figured if I looked up his obituary I'd find it. I found my father's obituary and a tribute page where people could leave their sympathies. I read the two postings that were there. One from a coworker, and this one:
"To the father that I never knew and that I now will never know. I regret having too much pride to come find you and now I'll never have a chance to know you. Your family thought you were an awesome man and father, I only wish I had the same chances to know you that way too! May peace be with you."
I was shocked. I'd only recently learned about the daughter from the affair, and did not know her name. But this posting on his tribute page was signed by her. So I looked her up. I found her mother fairly easily, so I called. I told her who I was and why I was calling. That night I spoke to my sister for the first time. She cried tears of happiness. She said she'd always been the b**tard child of my father, that he'd never wanted anything to do with her, and that she'd been heartbroken for her entire life because of it.
We talked a lot, emailed our life stories back and forth. Talked about the other siblings. And I decided to find the one that 'got away.' I'm a member on Ancestry.com, so I started there. He was very hard to find using the name I had, but I finally found his birth record. His name had been modified, removing my father's first name from his. But it was definitely HIM.
I wrote a letter to his mother telling who I was and that Dad had died. She called me immediately, and it all went from there. Now my brother, sister, and I talk every week, sometimes several times a week.
None of us grew up with siblings, so we're each fascinated with the other. My sister will come visit me in the spring sometime. She's visiting our brother at Thanksgiving. And I will see him next month.
All of this reconnecting is working its way through me and is very healing. My brother and my sister have each had far worse lives than I have, and for that I resent my father even more. It didn't have to be that way. But now that he is gone, we can all build what he kept from us all these years. The hurt that he inflicted can finally go away.