Imagine being in a childless marriage for several decades, having tried to conceive a child with your wife and failing all the while, only to learn much later after her death that you were, in fact, a father after all, only from a previous relationship predating your marriage. That’s what happened to one Grand Rapids, Mich. octogenarian.
81-year-old Tony Trapani recently found out he is a proud new father of a 61-year-old man by the name of Samuel Childress.
Trapani had tried having kids with his wife as long as her biological clock allowed her, but to no avail. To his knowledge, fatherhood was a role he was not destined for in his life, and that was a fact he had long come to accept.
However, Trapani found something curious after his long-beloved wife passed away – a letter from an old lover stashed in a file cabinet and forgotten for the last 55 years.
It seems Trapani’s late wife had intercepted a letter from her husband’s prior lover in which the former woman informed Trapani that he was, in fact, a father of a 5-year-old boy. That was in March of 1959, and the 5-year-old boy is now known as 61-year-old Samuel Childress.
Part of the letter reads:
I have a little boy. He is five years old now. What I’m trying to say Tony is he is your son. He was born November 14th, 1953.
The newly acquainted father and son only met for the first time in their entire lives on Sunday, Jan. 18. That makes roughly 56 years the two could have formed a loving, lasting relationship had Trapani’s wife given him the letter. Those years can never be retrieved.
Trapani, however, is beaming. He says he “feels like a new dad.”
Childress is quite happy, too. He said he wondered his entire life what his father looked like and why he didn’t have anything to do with his life. Childress stated:
I always asked my mom, I said, ‘Well what does he look like?’ She said, ‘Well, go look in the mirror.’
Childress also said his mother had always said she’d sent Trapani a letter informing him of her son, but both mother and child had always assumed Trapani was simply ignoring the reality of his son.
Trapani, however, stated through tears:
Why my wife didn’t tell me, I don’t know. She wanted children. She couldn’t have any. She tried and tried.
He’s my full son that I’ve had my whole life, but why my wife hid that letter is beyond me.
Well, it’s not difficult to understand why a woman unable to have children of her own for whatever reason decided to hide away the one child her husband did have, even if it was unbeknownst to him. She certainly must have feared the child could have come between them, and would not be an easy presence in their lives, considering the nature of the entire situation. That’s fairly easy to understand, not that it makes it the right thing to do by any means.
So, likely in fear for her marriage, and perhaps with a tinge of jealousy and resentment in the mix, Trapani’s late wife simply hid the letter away in one of her file cabinets and never looked back. She took that secret with her to the grave, or so she thought, anyway, and poor Samuel Childress was raised in Pennsylvania believing his father wanted nothing to do with him. The idea of ever meeting his father eventually became a mere fantasy.
As of last Sunday, however, Childress states:
Just to know him now is so important to me. It’s going to fill that void.
Now, it looks like the new father and son can spend their retirements getting to know each other, catching up on literally an entire lifetime of loves, losses, triumphs and regrets, as they seize what little time they may have left together.
Fortunately, in that manner, this rather tragic story will conclude with a rather happy ending. However, just to be entirely sure of the unbelievable matter, the two plan on undergoing a paternity test.
After living your entire life thinking you never had a son or you never had a father, it’s not unheard of that you might want to make absolutely sure upon finding them.
Let us hope the ending remains a happy one.