For most of my sixty-four years of life, I believed Robert Gerencser, a Hungarian (please see My Hungarian Grandparents, Paul and Mary Gerencser), was my biological father. I wondered over the years whether “Dad” was my father:
- Dad and my brother and sister have dark skin. I have light skin, blue eyes, and red hair.
- My younger brother was named Robert, Jr, not me.
- Dad and I never had a meaningful relationship. Dad never told me he loved me; never attended my sporting events; never made any attempt to bond with me. (Please see Questions: Bruce, How Was Your Relationship with Your Father? and Questions: Bruce Did Your Bad Relationship with Your Father Lead to You Leaving Christianity?) We didn’t have a “bad” relationship. We just weren’t close. When Dad suddenly died at the age of forty-nine, I hadn’t seen him in over five years.
- Ann Tieken (please see Dear Ann), my grandfather’s (please see John) wife, told me that Dad was not my father. She did this to hurt me. it worked.
At the age of fifteen, I learned for the first time that Mom got pregnant with me at the age of seventeen, and that she was pregnant when she married Dad in November, 1956.
Two Christmases ago, I decided to have my DNA tested. Six or so weeks later, the answers to doubts and questions were finally revealed: Dad was not my biological father. I was NOT Hungarian, as the graphic above clearly shows. My Ancestry DNA report revealed that I had a brother; that my biological father was a man named Jim Edwards. I also learned that I have half-brothers and sisters, one of whom (Bill, who lives three hours from my home) I met late last year.
I learned that it is likely that my biological father, a truck driver, had a fling with a seventeen-year-old girl, my mother, who was a waitress at The Hub Truck Stop in Bryan, Ohio.
All the parties to this story, except me, are dead. Many questions are left unanswered:
- Mom was roughly six to eight weeks pregnant when she married Dad. Did she know she was pregnant?
- Did Dad know Mom was pregnant with another man’s child?
- Did Mom hide the fact she was pregnant from Dad when she married him?
- Did my grandparents know about my paternity?
I later learned that my grandparents and aunts and uncles questioned my paternity. How could they not? I literally looked like the milkman’s son. Why didn’t any of them tell me about this? Even when I started asking questions, my concerns were turned away as rumors or gossip. “Surely, Mom would have told you, Butch (my family nickname).” Mom and I were very close. Did she know what I now know and withhold it from me, or did she not know and was as ignorant as I was? Mom died thirty years ago, so there’s no way for me to find out what she actually knew.
I recommend DNA tests. Just remember, you might learn more than you bargained for. 🙂
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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