Oct 23, 2006
A true story
Born in circumstances of abject poverty in a country halfway around the world, Dennis Castle lost his mother the day he was born. Much of the next 32 years would be consumed by the search for his father. That search ended three weeks ago.
Three weeks ago Saturday I received an email from a woman I’d never heard of before. It asked, cryptically, if I was the “Brogan” who served aboard the submarine USS Grayback from 1972 – 1976. If I was, would I please call her immediately as it was a matter of some urgency. Her phone number was included.
Well, of course, my name is Brogan and I did serve aboard the Grayback during those years, but that information is easily discovered by anyone with an Internet connection – my life isn’t lived quietly in the closet – so I did not call her back but instead wrote back to ask what her interest in me was.
The woman’s name was Amanda (oddly enough the same name as my youngest daughter), and she said that her husband, Dennis had been told by the woman that raised him that his father’s name was Brogan. Thus began a tale that would occupy every waking moment for all of us for the next couple of weeks.
At first we parried – hesitating to give away too much personal information. I had no memory of an encounter that would lead to a son. I suggested a DNA test. Soon, our wariness waned, and the story – and the apparent truth of if – began to emerge. Dennis’ mother had worked in a bar in the Philippines during the time that I was there. While working there, she met a US sailor and became pregnant. Dennis was born nine months after an extended stay I had had in the city of his birth. Her closest friend was Anna (in another odd coincidence, this is also my mother’s name). Anna was with his mother the day Dennis was born. With no one else to look after him, Anna took in Dennis and raised him as her own. Later, she too met a US sailor, married him and emigrated to the United States bringing Dennis with her.
As Dennis grew older he became more and more curious about his parents, especially about the father whom he’d never met. He plied his step-mother for information: Who was he? What did he do? What did he look like? She told him all that she knew:
His name was either David or Dennis Brogan, he was from a northern suburb of Denver Colorado, he was on the US Navy boxing team, he was quite young and he was very blond. Oh yes, he loved pistachio nuts.
Well, of course, this was fantastical for me. All of those things were true. We exchanged many photographs, we spoke at length on the phone. I shared the photographs of Dennis and his four daughters (my grandchildren!) with my mother and my spouse. My family and I could see my father’s eyes and my facial structure in his face. He and Amanda saw his same direct look, his same smile and his same penchant for silliness in me.
His long search was over. He had found the person he knew to be his father. Finally, after all these years, he felt that he belonged. We both cried as we spoke on the phone. He called me “Mom.” I had a son.
The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming. How much more proof did we need?
In a blow that still has us all reeling, the DNA evidence returned a negative result. Dennis has, once again, lost his parent. And I, too, am heart-broken.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A true story:
How sweet and terrible for you all. My heart goes out to you and to Dennis.
Posted by: Shelley | Oct 23, 2006 10:08:53 AM
All those similarities just show how small the world really is. I'm sorry for Dennis and for you that it wasn't small enough.
Posted by: Jami | Oct 23, 2006 10:14:09 AM
I am so sorry, for all of you. What a beautiful yet difficult moment in your life.
Posted by: transmogriflaw | Oct 23, 2006 1:41:33 PM
OMG... my heart dropped into my stomach when I finished reading that.
I guess we all know that DNA does not a family make, but in this case, I understand that that was what was necessary.
I'm so sad for everyone's heartbreak. I can't even imagine the hurt.
Hugs to you.
Posted by: She says | Oct 23, 2006 7:42:50 PM
I am speechless. (((Denise)))
Posted by: greymatters | Oct 24, 2006 6:53:10 PM
I am here to tell on Adam, I brought him to your site and out of his mouth comes who is that? ... wow, I think you two need to get together because he has forgotten who you are :)
Posted by: Amanda Wagoner | Oct 24, 2006 7:25:18 PM
Sounds to me like a shipmate was using your name and history. ;^)
Posted by: donna | Oct 24, 2006 10:55:08 PM
Thank you all for your loving appreciation of what was going on in our lives and our hearts. I do think we will maintain a connection with Dennis and his lovely family.
Donna, I actually don't think that's what happened. His step-mom obviously knew me (let's face it, as a very young, very blond, and somewhat naive kid I was somewhat memorable). I just didn't "know" his mom in the way that we all hoped.
Shelley, T, SS, GM, Jami: it's great to "see" y'all. Obviously, I've been missing in action and need to catch up on what's going on in your lives; I'll be dropping by your blogs to do just that. Thank you so much for still being here. (((HUGS)))
Mandi, no need to rat out your husband. It's been a long time (since that stop he made here before you two were married -- nearly 2 years?) since he's seen me. Hopefully, we'll all get a chance to reconnect this next year after I graduate and before I start having to make a living...
Posted by: Denise | Oct 25, 2006 7:12:14 AM
Denise, I was more giving Adam a hard time cause he talks about you but doesn't know who you where when I showed him a picture ;) I am looking forward to meeting you .
Posted by: Mandi | Oct 25, 2006 8:44:07 AM
What a story - I hope Dennis finds the parent he's looking for.
Posted by: Scheherazade | Oct 25, 2006 2:41:44 PM
Denise - what a wonderful and tragic story. I hope you're doing okay. It sounds like quite the rollercoaster.
Posted by: Alan | Oct 27, 2006 5:22:58 PM
Hey Scheherazade! LTNS. Thanks for stopping by. :) I don't think Dennis will ever find his natural father. He's out of clues. All of them led to me, I'm afraid. My hope is that he finds a way to realize that finding his dad is unimportant in every way that matters. He is loved in his life and has survived some very difficult circumstances to have been as successful as he is.
Alan! I'm doing very well, thanks. It's so good to see you. I love your new blog. :)
Posted by: Denise | Oct 28, 2006 12:03:45 PM
I knew you were an amazing woman. I am so proud of who you are and I am so sorry that Dennis didn't turn out to be your son after all. You have such a loving heart, he'd be fortunate to have you as a parent. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with everyone. It cause a greater understanding of what it's like to be a parent.
Bless all of you!
Posted by: Linda Schneider | Aug 6, 2009 7:14:34 PM