Sunday, December 19, 2010
I know it has been awhile, but i didn't have anything to say. This started as an exercise to talk about my fifty years of work experience, but after talking about my first jobs as a teenager, it all seemed so boring. Another thing that may be more interesting is to talk about my efforts to connect with my 'real' father. I was raised by my stepfather and he wasn't very nice--to put it mildly. I suppose I wasn't an ideal child either, but I don't think I deserved the harsh treatment I received at from him. Anyway, I always wondered why my real father never made any effort to contact me. Until my mother died in 2005, she resided in Newport and was always aware of how to contact me. I finally started using the resources of the Internet to do genealogical searches to try to piece together my family tree. As a result, I not only found my father, but I've compiled over 550 relatives in my extensive family tree. My father was named Joel Norman. My original name was Joel as well, but somehow my birth certificate said I was Jack. I knew from my mother that my father was from Cleveland, Ohio so I started my search there using the internet. I found several Joel Normans. One that fit the age profile of my father, died in San Diego, CA in 2003. I got a copy of his obituary and learned the names of his other children. I then focused my search on Joel Norman, junior who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. I left several messages on his answering machine but got no response. I finally contacted a Joel Norman, III in California. I finally got an answer and realized I was on the right track. The person that answered the phone was Joel, junior's ex-wife. Joel, III is her son. She initiated a three-way conversation that included her daughter, also in California. I've learned since that her daughter is a Sheriff's deputy. The daughter widened the conversation by calling her father in Cleveland, Ohio. He answered on the first ring. I was now talking to Joel Norman, Junior, his ex-wife and his daughter. This was my first contact. It almost felt like a extra-terrestrial contact. I was pretty excited. What was even more exciting was that the readily accepted me as a family member. Joel acknowledged that he knew about the existence of other siblings. It seems our father was a true navy man with a girl in every port and children to match. However, I was the first to make contact. We had a good first conversation and exchanged contact information. I prepared a bio of myself and emailed it along with a picture to Joel. Before long, I received calls from Gerald and Fred, two other Norman brothers. We're all about the same age. Joel was born in 1941, Gerald was born in 1943, I in 1944, Frederick in 1946. Phillip was born in 1947, but died before my first contact. There are other half-siblings in California--my father remarried and had four other children by his second wife. I will attempt to contact them as soon as I fully come to terms with the three brothers I have. Since we're the oldest, and aging, it's important to get as much as I can out of the time we have available. I've had several phone conversations with the three brothers and I have had facebook entries from many new nieces and nephews. The next step was a face-to-face meeting. It took over a year, but I finally made the trek to Cleveland over the Thanksgiving holiday, 2010. It was very emotional. And it became obvious that we were related because we look a lot alike. I met Joel and Gerald and several of their children. Frederick wasn't available, but I'm sure we'll see him on our next trip. I got plenty of new information to add to my family tree; plenty of pictures; and lots of hugs. A good time was had by all. I added another set of grandparents and great-grandparents to the tree. And, after much study, I should be able to carry the history as far back as the document I have goes. I hope to complete this history so my children don't have to wonder where they came from as I have all these years.