That afternoon held a reprieve for me. My son was down for the count on the living room floor. I breathed a sigh of relief as I carefully placed him into his bed. I had about an hour of freedom before he rose from his afternoon nap. I closed Brase’s bedroom door and stared intently at the hall closet. This was my window of opportunity but I was too exhausted from a long morning of child’s play.
I still could not remember and it was driving me crazy. I did the math in my head but the number was a little fuzzy. The question had come to me as I lay in bed the night before. What was the year… 84, 85 or 86?
I turned my inquiry away from my closet of personal archives and refocused on an Internet search. I typed my father’s name into the search bar and it all magically appeared. He died in June of 1985. I even retrieved his actual death certificate with a few additional key strokes.
I had stumbled upon one of the many genealogy sites on the web. I snooped a little further and tracked down an endless line of relations. The parade of relatives ended in 1691 with William and Queen Murphree in Dublin, Ireland. I laugh out loud because how many gay men have a great-grandparent named Queen. I felt a little gayer with that revelations!
I then visualized the magnitude of it. All the branches were twisted and tangled. My adopted relatives, my birth relatives, Brase’s birth relatives and all of Jose’s people spread out across a huge piece of paper. Brase’s family tree would need to be the size of a mural to record all the names.
This had all come to light because of an unexpected connection of sorts. The exact details are irrelevant but loosely consist of a letter arriving via post. It’s part of a story that has been on-going for almost 30 years. It involves relations from all corners of the map. Most of them I have not seen or heard from my entire adult life.
It's complicated to say the least. We have an endless supply of siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. All of which are not involved in the life Jose and I have built together. Most of which I would not recognize if I passed on the street. I am more familiar with Queen Murphree than most of my living relations.
This brings me to my point. What about all the others? The people who unconditionally love and care for my family. The ones Brase refers to lovingly as Granny, GaGa, PawPaw and Mimi. Where do we put these people on the map? Where do I place these individuals that are not linked by blood or adoption decrees?
Our family seems to have grown outside traditional boundaries. The names don’t match with search criteria in genealogy sites. Ours is an unconventional group of people bound by emotion. Love is the tie that binds and keeps us together.
Our family's tree branches are out stretched with old limbs; most of which have died or been pruned. The roots that keep us stable are those people nearest to us. The ones that interact in our daily lives. These roots may not be relate, in a traditional way, but they are the ones that keep us grounded. This is the true purpose of a family. These are the people that bring meaning to our lives and deserve a proper place on our tree.