I AM A FERGUSON

Ferguson

My arduous 25 year quest to find my father is over at last. I am a Ferguson. I have four sisters, plus 12 or 13 nieces and nephews. I am elated, reeling from these recent developments and working hard to assimilate the news. It proves my theory that the truth always surfaces, like a law of nature and no matter how long it may take.

In 1992 my mother Corona blurted out on her death bed, “Danny is not your father.” I dismissed it as she was suffering from dementia, weaving in and out of lucidity. Most unnerving, but her declaration slowly sunk in and began to make sense, explain many things, like a certain tension between my mother and Danny’s family and people often asking if I was adopted. I do not resemble my mother nor my two younger sisters and certainly not my alleged father. I believe that’s the legal term. These days it’s called paternity fraud. Those questions, that scrutiny must have panicked my mother, that is, if she knowingly lied. I have a feeling, knowing capable-of-delusion Corona that she’d convinced herself Danny-the man she married, the man who raised me-was my father, though I can only speculate.

My biological father is 87. We don’t have much opportunity for a relationship at this late date but with no name or leads I had given up hope of ever finding him and certainly didn’t expect him to be alive. It would be lovely if I’ve inherited his longevity genes along with his red hair.

It’s all so bittersweet and I wince every time I hear what a great guy he is. Danny was a decent fellow but cold, remote and often surly. He did instil in me an affinity with nature though. I think the only time he was happy was when he was in his element, in the woods with us hunting, fishing, hiking. Danny was a feminist, didn’t condescend or expect us to be ladies. He worked us hard-mowing lawns, chopping and stacking wood-while encouraging my sisters and I to be strong and competent. We had to be.

I asked Danny to take a DNA test. He consented and the results ruled him out as my biological father. He was shocked and said, “I never would have married her if I’d known,” which rather stung but I understood his feelings. Corona betrayed both of us. All of us.

Over the ensuing years I made several trips to Matapedia to interview Mom’s remaining relatives. No one could recall who she may have been dating way back when. I found no answers, not even one tiny clue.

I gave birth to my son in 1994 and though focused on child rearing was determined for his sake as well as mine to uncover our genetic makeup though I had no idea how. Eventually I registered my DNA through Family Tree DNA, which provided more distractions than answers. I didn’t have the time or finesse to pursue resulting genealogical matches. Then about a year ago I signed up for a new program called Family Finder and discovered Amy, a cousin, who happens to be a professional genealogist. She put my profile up at GedMatch which identified Valerie as my first cousin. Then we found another first cousin, Kathy. Valerie had been adopted but knew the name of her father who turned out to be my uncle. One of my father’s daughters kindly took a DNA test which after an excruciating wait revealed her to be my half-sister. Hallelujah!

It occurs to me that dear old Ma effectively deprived us of the Beliveaus and Haleys as well. I might have been bilingual but she became entirely assimilated after moving west. Growing up, my sisters and I were isolated. Dad had one brother who lived on Vancouver Island hence there were no cousins, aside from an occasional visit. We moved nearly every two years, in and around Winnipeg until I was ten, then spent two years in the Kooteneys because the Plymouth station wagon broke down at the top of Rogers Pass and Dad had to get a job in order to pay the motel room and wound up working on the Duncan dam as a welder. We finally settled in the Fraser Valley when I was twelve.

My parents were miserable together. I will spare you the gory details but our home life was harrowing, rife with neglect and abuse. My parents did not belong together, could not provide their children with stability or security.

There is much discussion around Corona’s motivations. Perhaps she wanted to leave small town Quebec, the past. I know she’d endured a terrible upbringing. And being Catholic, no doubt there was enormous pressure not to bear a child out of wedlock, though her mother first suggested an abortion. I wrote a poem about it, Where Sins Are More Sinful. “Sins are more sinful when the whole town knows.” In any case,  surely Corona had her reasons but there’s not much point dwelling on that along with what might have been.

I was appalled when someone once asked, “Why do you care?” “Likely the same reason you do.” Of course I want to know. No one asks to be born, we are entitled to our heritage. Close proximity to our roots facilitates establishing one’s identity which surely anchors us through life’s tempests. I never had that sense for it turns out  I was a changeling. Foisted.

My son and I are flying out to Toronto in January to meet the clan.  The Fergusons have only been kind, warm and welcoming, another huge relief. I find it poignant and fitting that a bee rests atop a thistle in the Ferguson family crest, that we are, “Sweeter After Difficulties.”

 

It's only fair to share...Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

14 thoughts on “I AM A FERGUSON

  1. My dear Heather. This is the first time I have seen your story, apart from a few snippets. I am very happy that this has worked out for you. There is no denying your resemblance to your dad and siblings.
    We have a few things in common for sure and you are certainly welcomed by me. Hopefully we will get a chance to meet in The not too distant future. I will be back in Florida in January when you visit your siblings and your dad and meet Kathy and other family members.
    I look forward to seeing you, whenever we can manage.

    Love

    Dianne

    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Dianne. The feeling is mutual and I look forward to meeting in the not-too-distant future.

  2. Very nicely written Heather, only someone in your shoes can know what you have been through these long years – so glad for you and the family that the hunt is over. Have a great Christmas and looking forward to your visit in the New Year.

  3. Such an interesting story Heather. Best of luck with your new family.
    Rachel hooked up with her long lost half siblings of 40 years or so after her half sister saw Rachel’s name roll by on some film credits we did music for when the film was in a festival in N.Y.C.
    I’ll be away from Jan1-15 but if you are here when I am and you have a few minutes, lets meet for coffee. xoC

  4. I am so happy that you have found the father and the family you have searched for all these years. I know how full your heart is. Always wondering about that person and how that person helped make you the person you are and never finding answers to all the questions is frustrating and I’m glad you can now answer those questions. I’m excited about this new journey we are both embarking on. I wish you all the best as you visit your new family in the new year. Many blessings for you all!

  5. So happy to read these details, Heather! What a journey you’re on! In so many ways the exact opposite of my own, and yet must carry much of the same trials. I hope you find in your newly-found family the strong vein of courage and fire that is in you.

    1. Lovely to hear from you Emily. No one’s journey though this life is easy that is for certain. Thank you for the good wishes.

  6. Welcome to the family Heather! You are a Ferguson and we are so excited to have you as part of our family. I can’t wait for your visit in January. I will hand over my crown as eldest sister. That belongs to you now. For the first time in my life I actually have a big sister and I could not be more proud and excited about that.

    Big Hug, your sister Kelly

    1. Thank you Kelly! I feel welcome and looking forward to meeting the clan in only a matter of weeks now. And I admire your grace, it can’t be easy, relinquishing one’s crown. See you soon! Fondly, Heather

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>