Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Ship Has Sailed

Brighton is brought on board for a new adventure.

October 17, 2014, marked the beginning of a dizzying number of back-and-forth emails resultant from the poorly defined, but significant, genetic connection between myself and Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty as indicated by AncestryDNA.

It couldn't have come at a worse time. 

While I was finally putting the pieces of my puzzle together, and coming tantalizing close to solving the mystery presented to me the previous February, Brighton's puzzle pieces were still scattered, missing, and not fitting together very nicely.

Bright had moved into an assisted living center in Denver, Colorado, on the very same day I had made contact with the Donna, his friend and his staunch supporter for three decades, and as of late, his primary caregiver and watchdog. After a fourth surgery for spinal stenosis on 20 March 2014, Brighton had suffered through significant post-surgical dementia, hospitalization, seven weeks of rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility, and another repeat hospitalization. He had finally been moved into a beautiful, modern, well-equipped assisted living center on the western suburbs of Denver. While I spent most of 2014 chasing down his far-flung Daugherty relatives, he was fighting for his life. And winning.

Unfortunately, the hard-earned victory Brighton has finally achieved tasted bittersweet. He had gained the freedom to live independently after a grueling physical battle that his physicians and surgeons had deemed impossible. Brighton Daugherty's lust for life was evident. He has a large personality and a charming, yet commanding, presence. He had spent over eight decades repeatedly reinventing himself, not just in name, but as well as in deed. The path he had chosen to take was paved with passion, adventure, creativity, and wonder. This path was not neatly paved, nor was it dotted with street signs and traffic signals. Brighton's chosen way of living was burdened by very few rules.

Assisted living facilities have rules.

Additionally, since his earlier 2011 spinal stenosis surgery, and its subsequent respiratory arrest and near-death experience, Brighton had been the victim of worsening degrees of dementia. The brain injury resultant of this surgery marked a significant decline in his mental health, and it was hoped by his doctors that perhaps he would improve with familiarity and routine. Having recently been bounced from hospital to medical facility, his apartment condemned due to a black mold infestation, and his personal belongings confiscated for cleaning, the bulk of Brighton's 2014 was hardly the epitome of "familiarity and routine." Now that he was settled into a new facility and the bulk of his belongings finally delivered to him by the foot-dragging, legal-wrangling corporate entity that owned his apartment building, it was hoped that stability would be forthcoming.

But for Brighton, the transition was accompanied by confusion, agitation, and a dislike for the gnawing realization that he was being marginalized by society as a bothersome old man with mental and physical limitations. For a man who had sailed the Pacific Ocean in a boat of his own construction, an afternoon of Yahtzee with a bunch of "living dead people" was not his idea of an adventure. He was barely in residence for five days before the staff called his contacts frantically looking for him, as he had left the building without notifying anyone. He had returned safely later in the afternoon, but one of his visitors that night indicated that on that particular evening he was in a foul mood.

This was not an ideal time to reveal to him that he had a daughter in Indiana, and a grandson who had been doggedly pursuing his trail.

Truthfully, the week Brighton was struggling to adapt to his new situation, I was largely unaware that he was even the grandfather I had been so tenaciously seeking. With the combined AncestryDNA results indicating that Brighton and I were nebulously, yet closely, related, the working hypothesis was that Brighton's brother, Thomas Richard Daugherty, who had died seven years earlier, was my mother's father. Thomas was older and closer to my grandmother's age. He was not yet married, and was presumably living in South Bend, Indiana. His younger brother, then known as Jim Daugherty, was only nineteen years old and was thought to have been still at sea on the U.S.S. Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Regardless, Donna's love for Brighton  and her interest in genealogy compelled her to tell me all about my presumed new great-uncle and tidbits of information she had learned of the Daugherty family throughout her years of acquaintance with Brighton. The emails flew back and forth by the dozens. And today, when I look at the timeline of events, I am amazed at how quickly everything fell into place. When the events were actively unfolding, I was lecturing throughout Ohio, away from home, and the process seemed painfully and frustratingly slow. As quickly as I was being fed details, I was asking more questions.

Within twenty-four hours of initial contact, Brighton's raw data from AncestryDNA was uploaded to to solidly identify his relationship to me that AncestryDNA would not reveal. Four days later I was already purchasing a Y-DNA test kit from FamilyTreeDNA. My previous months of research had indicated that Brighton was the last male Daugherty of his line. His only brother had no sons, and even if Thomas Daugherty was my grandfather, my mother did not carry his Y-DNA. It died with him. Tom and Bright's father, Ira Daugherty (1886-1943), was the only one of three brothers to have children. His great-grandfather, John Henry Daugherty (1852-1939), was the only son to live to adulthood. So even before I knew which of the two Daugherty brothers was my grandfather, I knew that Brighton was the only living male descendant of Daniel Daugherty (1803-1880). Being on the cusp of revealing my grandfather's identity hadn't curbed my thirst for DNA. Without it, I would have never found him. Hell, without it, I would have still presumed Frank Strukel was my grandfather. But this marriage of my genealogical and scientific backgrounds is a potent drug. It will forever yield to me amazing gems of knowledge, clues for further research, as well as keep me woefully impoverished.

Thomas Richard Daugherty
South Bend Central High School, 1942

Since I had already been chasing Daugherty descendants, I knew a great deal about the family. I had located the high school graduation photo of Thomas Daugherty, and I gazed upon it trying to see the similarities between my mother and myself. I had already been prepared not to see a lot of resemblance between my mother and her father, as she seemed in some photos to be a carbon copy of her mother, Helen. Truthfully, I was hoping to find traits that skipped a generation and explained why I looked more like the mailman than my own parents. I regrettably did not see it in the face of Thomas Daugherty.

I had sent a copy of Tom's photo to Donna with several other charts and graphics and information about the Daugherty family. Brighton and his siblings were not close as adults. Their mother had died in 1980, and since that time the two younger boys and two older girls had settled in vastly different parts of the country. Tom and Jim were as different as two brothers could be, but of the whole lot of siblings, they still had a mutual love and respect for each other that was not seen between any of the others. Whereas Brighton had gone to visit his brother Tom in Florida, and they had sailed the Caribbean together, he had no present knowledge of his sisters, and was unaware if they were even still living. He presumed not. When he was shown pictures of the brother of his youth and photos of the old South Bend, Indiana, Central High School, Brighton was pleasantly surprised and talkative of his family and his past. This is something that Brighton rarely did. The past was the past, and he distanced himself from his family for a reason. This attitude was worrisome to me. With his intermittent confusion and often hostile dismissal of useless trivia and conversations about days gone by, what would he be willing to tell an unseen, unknown relative pestering him for information? Would attempting to dissect his family detail by detail be an exercise in futility? And would he even care to meet newcomers so late in his life? Would he embrace a new family, or wave it away as he had done the old?

This nagging worry was compounded with shock and joy when Brighton's DNA data was processed and available from on 22 October 2014. I would no longer be grilling a presumed great-uncle for disembodied memories of a dead brother or far-flung facts regarding the Daugherty family in general. I was now handed the possible opportunity to meet my grandfather. The endpoint to my journey was not just the academic knowledge of an appropriate family name to which to marry my DNA. It was now embodied by a fascinating, living, breathing, larger-than-life man battling with the demons of old age. My grandfather. I had to know everything about this man!

But still, Brighton knew nothing of the situation.

I was suddenly tasked with trying to figure out how a nineteen-year-old presumably at sea with the United States Navy met my twenty-nine-year old married grandmother and mother of three living in Elkhart, Indiana. And Donna was taking on the responsibility for determining the right time, the right place, and the right way to tell Brighton he had fathered a daughter sixty-eight years previously.

Reminiscing about the past after seeing Tom's 1942 photograph was a good sign. Perhaps it was time to test the waters. Stir the pot. There were now plenty of theoretical discussions swirling about regarding what may have transpired in the spring of 1946. Could Brighton possibly remember a woman who factored so briefly in his long life and distant past?

Two days after confirming Brighton as my grandfather, my mother's AncestryDNA results were posted. Her two closest matches were Brighton and me. We were both "Parent, Child - immediate family member." The connection was plain, and not just the "Close Family" that I had received with my results. On the same day, Brighton was shown a picture of Helen Marie (Timmons) Miller taken in 1946. He again looked upon the face of the woman who somehow, somewhere caught his eye that fateful spring long, long ago.
Before handed the photo of my grandmother, Brighton was prefaced with a vague statement that this photo had cropped up in some ancestry work for him, much like the photo he saw of his brother days before. His eyes lit up instantly, and he said, "she looks familiar!" When told that the photo was from 1946 and the woman in it was 29 years old, he responded immediately with, "Oh no, she is too young to be 29. She's more like 22!"

Could he really have a memory of one woman who played such a tiny role in his life? Or did she just possess the general traits of every other pretty girl of the postwar Midwest that caught his eye? Perhaps Helen's gap-toothed smile inherited by both her daughter and her grandson struck a chord of remembrance in Brighton's oft-confused mind. It was evident nonetheless that the awkward decade age difference between the two was probably not perceived by the then 19-year-old Jim Daugherty, much as it was recently dismissed by the 87-year-old Brighton. He did not push further regarding the woman's identity in the photo.

By October 26th, just four days after our DNA confirmation, the snowball rolling downhill was gaining too much momentum and becoming far too large and cumbersome. It was a secret that could not be contained for much longer. A good portion of Brighton's belongings had finally been returned from his previous apartment, and he was able to surround himself with items he had not seen in nearly a year. Although there were still days of impatience and confusion, he was learning to accept the comforts  along with the inconveniences of his new home. It was decided that Brighton should be told immediately about his new family. On the first day that he was largely his charming, witty self without too much confusion, he would be told. But it had to be on a day that the friends who already knew of the impending reveal could be available to help him absorb the information. If left alone immediately after receiving such mind-blowing news, his confusion might be intensified. All that could be done now was to wait for such an opportunity.

On the same day, I had emailed Donna many photos of my mother from her infancy to the present, with many photos of myself as well. I had already been sent a few photos of Brighton, but there was not a good sense of his features over the span of his lifetime. I could not really see a strong family resemblance, but I could not discount it either. Perhaps if he saw pictures of his daughter and grandson, he might see familial features I was unable to perceive.

On October 28th, Donna took several printed photographs and enclosed them in the greeting card illustrated at the beginning of this blog. Each photo was labeled plainly with a black Sharpee. Brighton could refer to them when he was alone, and he could absorb the identities of his new family. The card, with its nautical theme and subtle Asian artistic influences, perfectly embodied the things Brighton loved. Beyond all other things, Brighton loved a good story, both hearing them and telling them. His lifetime adventures had been the source of many, and to Brighton, living in an assisted living center in Denver, Colorado, signaled the end of his exploits.

The card and its booty were tucked away for Donna's Tuesday visit. She was ready to tell him about a daughter he never knew existed. If he was surly and stubborn, or confused and disoriented, Tuesday was not going to be the day. But she could now keep the information at her fingertips, ready for the perfect moment to surprise Brighton with a new adventure. A new story. A new beginning.

At 7:41 p.m. that evening, I received an email.

"The Ship Has Sailed."

Friday, March 6, 2015


Harold Teen, long-running comic strip from 1919 to 1959

Harold Daugherty was not the only boy growing up in America in the 1930s and 1940s with that particular moniker. In 1927, Harold was the fourteenth most popular name for boys. Although it never broke the Top Ten list, it remained one of the top twenty names given to boys from 1899 to 1935. So Brighton's dislike for his given name was certainly not borne out of the misfortune of carrying something unique and bizarre and embarrassing, like Hercules or Hezekiah. It was just Harold.

But the name Harold just didn't suit the young man. He had no other nicknames as a boy that I am aware of, and his mother adored the name she had bestowed upon her baby and favorite child. But it was also name she also used to torment him.

"Harold! H-A-R-O-L-D!!! Harold Snodgrass, get in this house right now!"

Interestingly, I find no reference to a Harold Snodgrass in fiction, radio, or popular culture. Perhaps it was just a ludicrous pairing of names that elicited the mental image of a frumpy old man or a nerdy awkward boy that caused Brighton's mother to giggle with glee when she employed this means of addressing her son, while at the same time causing him to wince, red-faced from embarrassment. Even in the modern world, the combination is used arbitrarily as a source of derision. In an article entitled "The Art of the Pseudonym," from Shelf Actualization, the authors discuss creating a new identity. "Make it cool. It's a pen name, for crying out loud. It's your one chance to throw off the chains of being Harold Snodgrass and become Alistair Gilchrist, Emory Stanton, Thibadeaux Sykes or Jewett McFadden." Harold Daugherty would become quite adept at reinvention, his change of name being just one of the forms it would inhabit.

Harold Daugherty was no Harold Snodgrass, but he wasn't a hip or popular Harry or Hal either. Regrettably, one seldom bestows upon themselves a nickname as a child that sticks. If your mother calls you Harold, your siblings call you Harold, your teachers call you Harold, the world calls you Harold. Whether you like it or not. Harold did not like it.

But as Harold became a teenager and his persona became one of his own making, his dislike for his name intensified. 

"Harold Teen" was an immensely popular comic strip in the United States. Debuting in the Chicago Tribune in 1919, it was the only comic of its time to feature an adolescent main character. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Harold Teen spoke the lingo of the teenagers of his day, coining such slang terms and expressions as "paintywaist," "Yowsah!" and "Fan mah brow!" Harold Teen became a pop cultural phenomenon, spawning movie versions of the comic strip character in 1928 and 1934, and a Chicago-based radio show in 1941.

But as Harold Teen's creator, Carl Ed, aged, his connection to the teens of the 1940s grew more distant. And although the character Harold Teen joined the Navy during the war years, the popularity of the comic waned, and the main character was considered an irrelevant joke for pre-War youth.

When Kate Daugherty moved into a new rental house in South Bend in 1943, all of her children but the youngest had finished school. Harold Daugherty left South Bend Central High School and entered into Washington High School. The school was filled with teenage children of the predominantly working-class Polish west side communities, and a fresh-faced Irish-sounding interloper was a perfect target for testosterone-laden bullies. The boys treated the artistic, fashion-forward Harold Daugherty roughly. He hated it.

And they taunted him with "Harold Teen" Daugherty, a mocking parody of what a teenager was supposed to be.

Harold Daugherty had a middle name, although his birth certificate does not state it. His brother, and his two sisters all had middle names, but none of their birth certificates reveal more than a single first name. Brighton insists that upon his confirmation into the church he was allowed to choose his own middle name. Although choosing a confirmation name is a custom practiced largely in the Roman Catholic Church in this country, the Daughertys went to a Methodist Episcopal Church. There appears to be a custom amongst the African Methodist Episcopal Church where confirmands choose a new name, but it is rarely seen in the modern Methodist or Anglican denominations. But Brighton insists that he chose his own name, although the age at which he did so varies upon the time he tells the story, and to whom he tells it.

I was to find out that Brighton is a master story teller. Sometimes the story is factual. Sometimes the story is based on fact. And sometimes the story is just that: a story, a fanciful tale of daring-do and whimsy. Brighton just happens to be the main character in all of the above.

The middle name that Harold was given by his parents, or perhaps the middle name he chose for himself, was James.

Harold James Daugherty.

The first reinvention of the man occurred when he left Harold Daugherty to his tormented childhood. When Harold quit high school at the age of seventeen to join the United States Navy, he became James "Jim" Daugherty. 

Jim Daugherty was the man who returned home from the Navy in 1946 and met my grandmother, Helen Marie Miller, for at least one very fateful encounter. Jim Daugherty was the young man of the 1950s whose travels and adventures you will learn about at another time.

But the grandfather I had found after my DNA-laden journey was a man named Brighton Daugherty, and it was actually well over a dozen emails into my flurry of correspondence with Donna that I thought to ask, "Where did Brighton come from?"

The response I got harkened back to his days in Hawaii. In 1963, while living in Lahaina, the villagers of this sleepy but historic town learned to love the haole newcomer, and they called the six-foot Jim Daugherty, "Beeg Jeem," or "Kimo," the Hawaiian form of James. It was not until Jim built his own 40-foot trimaran in 1969, that the other sailors and harbor locals knew him by his yellow-and-white boat propelled by the sail he had made embellished with a giant, bright orange sun. His early morning habits and his conspicuous and oft-sighted boat gained him the nickname "Bright Morning Sun." And so, Bright - or Brighton - was born, and the name became his unofficial designation from that time forward, appearing on all forms of identification and legal papers.

Clever little story, isn't it?

Did I tell you my grandfather was a story teller? Let him tell you how he got the name Brighton.

Wait... spotted doing naked yoga in the early morning hours by an innocent young child? What does this have to do with a big sun on a sail? The only similarity between the two version of the origin of his nickname lies in the phrase "bright morning sun."

In the past, when confronted with such disparate versions of the beginnings of his life as Brighton, he has chuckled, and with his charming smile, innocently asked, "Oh, is that the version I told them?"

Yes, Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty, loves to tell a story.

This writer has been an advocate of seeking the truth long before the players in this drama had been identified. But who is qualified to assess what the "truth" really is? And is one person's truth a fallacy to someone else? As time passes and memories fade, what survives? The truth in its bare-bones form? Or a greatly embellished version of it?

What is the truth?

In 1992, Brighton's wife, Gay, relayed the following:

"Jim became Brighton during the late 60's and early 70's when there was a wonderful revolution in thinking and a shift in societies [sic] values triggered by the Viet Nam war. During that era our names were Bright & Gay Morningsun and our mailing address was ℅ The Seabreeze, Lahaina, Maui, Hi. We enjoyed the whimsy of the times."

Or as his niece told me, 
"...when Jim (his original name was Harold James Daugherty - but he HATED his name)... hooked up with Gay... they decided together to legally change his name. Since she was "Gay," he chose "Bright," or Brighton as the formal name."
Bright and Gay. How cute. Almost nauseatingly so.

But that makes for a terrible story.

I really needed to meet this man.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's in a Name?

Birth certificate of Harold Daugherty, 16 March 1927
Cook County, Illinois, Clerk's Office

While waiting for Brighton to settle into his new home, and for his mind to be fully able to grasp the enormity of the existence of an unknown daughter fathered nearly seven decades before, I had time to dig into the factual aspect of the life of my new grandfather. After all, that's what I do. I am a genealogist.

Genetic research as it applies to genealogy is a very young beast, appreciably barely two decades old. The ability to analyze the autosomal DNA of person and how it relates to others is a very new invention. The cost-effectiveness of doing so and the accessibility to the general public that came rapidly upon its heels is nothing short of phenomenal. When asked if I regret missing out on getting to know my grandfather had my grandmother expressed doubts when we met her in 1982, I respond that even had I known, I would have had no way of finding him until at least 2013 when science allowed me to do so. 

Equally so, the methodology of genealogical research has changed considerably since I first started reading microfilm searching for information on my long-dead ancestors in 1980. Although I had access to excellent research repositories, such as the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, even as a teenager, a lot of research involved waiting. Writing letters. Waiting. Requesting documents. Waiting. Connecting with distant cousins. Waiting. Asking distant libraries to locate obituaries. More waiting. I used to pound out letters in rapid succession on my mother's old manual typewriter daily. And every day the race to the mailbox was my singular, ecstatic, most-anticipated pleasure. I once wrote a letter to forty-four county clerks in the state of Missouri asking them to check for a deed of sale for an ancestor's land. I knew only from an Ohio guardianship that his children received money from this sale after his death, and that it involved "land in Missouri." Instead of writing to all 114 counties first (after all, I was a high school student - stamps cost money!), I split the state by the Missouri River and wrote to all the northernmost counties first.

I got nearly forty-four replies. Many clerks went out of their way just to send records regarding people of the same surname, even though I had not asked for such. One of the clerks found the document I was looking for. I was jubilant.

This was genealogical research in the 1980s.

Yeah, okay, so I wasn't like a lot of teenagers.

In the 2010s I could instantly scour the Internet on hundreds of websites extracting information about my grandfather and his family. In minutes I could have snippets of newspaper articles, vital records, abstracts, and further leads. And although Ira Daugherty and his estranged family had eluded me temporarily in my DNA search (see Hoosier Daddy?: Bad, Bad, Bad Genealogist), I was rapidly making up for lost time learning about his wife and four children - the youngest being my presently clueless grandfather. I could amass hordes of data in one night on the computer that would have taken me months of letter-writing in the past.

Since my grandfather was older than the seventy-five years required by the state of Illinois for maintaining the privacy of his birth record, I was able to procure his certificate of birth in minutes through the Cook County Clerk's web site. It was a thrill to see a copy of the actual document that officially announced my grandfather's entrance into this world. It made the man real. It cemented him into my family tree. His connection to me was confirmed scientifically; hopefully soon mentally, physically, and emotionally; but now officially and clerically. All of these things are so separate, yet so deeply intertwined. The documents have more meaning when accompanied with stories and remembrances. The people who tell them have an almost eerie tangible connection when you can pinpoint precisely on what chromosome tiny parts of them reside within every cell of your very being.

Harold Daugherty was born at 10:05 p.m.. the night of 16 March 1927, the fourth child of Ira Daugherty, engineer, and Katherine "Fries," housewife. He was born at 3432 North Paulina Street in Chicago, Illinois. His mother was attended by a midwife, Mrs. Emilie Stryker; the same woman who attended her upon the birth of her son Thomas four years earlier.

The home at the North Paulina address no longer stands. It is now an empty lot immediately north of the Sine Qua Non Salon, housed in a wedge-shape brick building that fills the sharp thirty-degree intersection Paulina makes to the immediate south with North Lincoln Avenue. Lincoln then immediately intersects with West Roscoe Street in this very busy Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Just steps away from where baby Harold was born, the "L" rumbled overhead in 1927 as it still does today. Those catching the Brown Line at the Paulina Street Station are close enough to toss their emptied Starbucks cup upon the place of my grandfather's birth moments before catching the train.

Despite the traffic, the bustling businesses to the immediate south, and the trains overhead, 3432 North Paulina Street would have marked the first residential home on the west side of the street, in line with several tidy two-story, multi-family homes extending to the north. The imposing architecture of Alexander Hamilton Elementary School and St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church were merely a block away northward along the tree-line streets away from the traffic and noise.

It is unlikely that Ira and Katherine strolled this neighborhood with their newborn son, living immediately upon the dividing line between urban bustle and neighborhood calm. The Paulina Street address was likely one of several addresses inhabited by the Daugherty family. They were living elsewhere less than three years previously when their son, Thomas, was born; and they were living at another address when the census taker knocked on their door in 1930. Not a single city directory for the city of Chicago bears the name of Ira Daugherty, likely because he was equally as mobile as his restless siblings in Michigan. And likely because he preferred staying one step ahead of his many scams. This address may have been merely a stopping place for an unhappy pregnant mother to have another child.

One thing is clear by the document depicted at the beginning of this blog. My grandfather was born Harold Daugherty. Not Harold James Daugherty. Not Brighton Daugherty. Not even the Brighton H. J. Daugherty conglomeration he used briefly in the mid-1980s.

He was simply Harold.

Brighton stated later that his mother insisted on strong, regal British names for her sons. From the Old English Hereweald derived from the words for "army" and "power, leader, ruler," and a name carried by two kings of England, she chose quite wisely. And Katherine expected her sons to live up to the greatness implied by their names as well.

It seems perversely odd that Katherine (Tries) Daugherty would insist upon such Anglophilic names for her sons. After all, she was the daughter of German immigrants, both arriving upon the chaotic streets of Chicago less that a decade before her birth. Even Ira Daugherty himself, sporting a very Irish moniker, was the son of a German mother. His maternal grandfather whom he played with as a child had come to this country in 1851 from the Prussian province of Brandenburg sporting the unmistakably German name Friedrich Wilhelm Jonas.

Katherine spoke German easily with her parents, and Brighton recalls German folk songs his mother sang to him as a child. But unlike the isolated German enclaves of smaller cities or the rural Midwest, Brighton's mother grew up in the city of Chicago surrounded by neighbors of diverse European backgrounds. Her education would have been in the public schools with an Anglocentric basis, and she would have entered young womanhood when the nation was gripped with an almost paranoid anti-German fervor as the country entered into World War I. She was likely relieved to quietly tuck away her German heritage and identity as the former Katherine Tries, and experience the security in her married identity of Kate Daugherty. Her immediate family was no different. Kate's Rhenish Catholic father married her Pomeranian Protestant mother the year before her birth in 1892, having two illegitimate children together in the six-year span before her. There were few family ties in Chicago other than her mother's sister. As a consequence, her parents held no special social, fraternal, or religious ties to their German heritage once they arrived in this country. They were Americans, and they went about assimilating as such, like so many European immigrants before and after them. Katherine's siblings, the remaining Tries children, all of immediate German parentage, took spouses of English, Irish, Norwegian, and Greek birth or backgrounds. None of them married a German.

So upon Kate's insistence, and likely to Ira's indifference, their youngest son was called Harold. It was a name that she adored.

And it was one that he hated.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It Takes Two

Brighton Daugherty, 2005, Denver, Colorado
© Jeff Ball Photography, used with permission

At 87 years old, Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty had lived a life only few people could dream of living. 

I had never expected to find a living grandfather. That alone was a shocking surprise I was still trying to fully process and wrap my head around. It was actually possible that I could meet the man who had been the focus of my intense search for all these past months. Hours and hours of sifting through DNA results and begging for genetic material from strangers had paid off. Big time. This kind of story-book ending was nearly incomprehensible.

To understand the significance of these results, let me put a few things in perspective.

I am the genealogist who started researching as a pre-teen, and whose father was unable to spell his own mother's maiden name, and who further told me she was born on September 31st. Think about it.

I am the genealogist whose family discards photos, documents, memorabilia, and heirlooms because they are old and useless. Even decades into my research when my mother and her second husband managed a booth at an antique store, I had to rescue photos of the Dobyns and Hanks family that my mother tried to sell to the public as "Instant Ancestors"!

I am the genealogist who finally finds the document I have desperately needed for decades in Court Order Book 46, page 432 -- only to find that it is the only page that has been mysteriously torn from its bindings and has been missing for decades.

I am the genealogist that descends from impoverished ancestors whom nobody else is seeking. I have mastered the art of research because I have not had the luxury of "hooking up" to somebody else's family tree. Incidentally, I do consider this a good thing, but a factor nonetheless that has resulted in a lot of stubborn, dedicated, time-consuming, minutiae-sifting work.

Luck is rarely on my side.

So the grandfather I expected to find was dead. He was a native of Elkhart, Indiana, or vicinity. He had never moved away and had married as a young man. If he had ever left the confines of Indiana, it was for an exotic vacation to Disney World in Florida. He had worked doggedly at a local factory for over forty years, and he had two or three children who were now doing the same. Any local newspaper reporting of his lifetime accomplishments might be a mention at the birth or marriage of one of his children, perhaps a speeding ticket mentioned in the police blotter column, or an announcement of some time-related mile marker he had achieved in his marriage. He would have retired with little fanfare from a job he had learned to loathe years before, to then enjoy some mind-numbing pastime, like lawn care or watching NASCAR, until his horrible eating habits and lack of activity killed him. The number of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon he had consumed over a lifetime might easily be well into five digits. His death warranted the obligatory public mention of his devotion to his job and family, and touted his allegiance to the Masons or to the Elks or to the Eagle or to the Kiwanis, even though he had not attended a meeting in over two decades. His online condolences from past neighbors and coworkers all indicated he was "nice."

This is what I had anticipated. And if I were lucky, I would be able to procure some photographs from living family members to see if I had any resemblance to my grandfather, as I have no striking resemblance to either of my parents. I would have a starting point to resume work on the quarter of my ancestry that had recently been nullified. My DNA matches would make sense once I had a correct name and a new paper trail for which to attach to them.

The grandfather I found was none of the things I anticipated. And through Donna, who had been the impetus for him to be tested through AncestryDNA and who was my intermediate connection to Brighton Daugherty, I was beginning to learn about his incredible life.

The identity of the man I had been seeking came to me on 22 October 2014. I knew. My mother knew. Donna knew.

Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty did not.

Donna had met Brighton in Hawaii in 1985 when she and her husband had moved there from their home in Denver, Colorado. Brighton's wife, Gay, had been their realtor when they bought their home in Kona, and they liked her immediately. Although energetic and welcoming in her personal presentation, and enthusiastic in pursuing a friendship with this newly-arrived couple to their tropical paradise home, Gay was conspicuously hesitant about revealing many details about her husband.

"My husband Bright is different."

Never ones to follow the rigidly prescribed paths of the social norm, Donna and her husband found this initial assessment to be far more tempting and interesting of an invitation than a warning of any kind. Days later, both couples met, and the evening was spent discovering similar interests, such as Asian aesthetics, shared favorite authors, and compatible philosophical mindsets.

The complete lack of discussion regarding football teams, sports scores, and feigned masculine bravado suited both men just fine. The couple became great friends.

Upon the death of Donna's husband in 1993, and Brighton's divorce in 1994, the two had become intimate confidants, living together in Hawaii for nine years thereafter. Donna returned to her home in Denver, Colorado. Brighton followed a short while later and they resumed a close friendship, which they have maintained for nearly three decades. Donna seemed to be a good sparring partner for a man with stubborn convictions, and the mutual respect between two strong-willed persons was apparently a good part of the glue that cemented the friendship together.

Donna was significantly younger than Brighton, and when his age brought with it the myriad health issues expected of it, she stepped in to help where she could. Brighton passed his seventies in rather vigorous good health, but he entered into his eighties as a broken aged man. As he said to me later, "one day I just woke up old." His care was becoming a full-time job, and Donna was the only one who had applied for the position.

Spinal stenosis diagnosed decades before resulted in a series of surgeries to stabilize Brighton's vertebrae and save the use of his hands, which were becoming progressively numb from years of dealing with his ailment. His third surgery in 2011 ended in unexpected post-operative seizures and complete respiratory failure.

He remained on life support for nearly two weeks, and it was generally thought that he would not recover.

I am learning that you never tell Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty what to do. It is very likely that he heard the news of his impending death in his unconscious state and decided to prove everyone wrong.

Brighton recovered, but he also had experienced a traumatic brain injury from his near death experience. His ability to process information, especially in the short term, was deeply affected. And despite the tragic consequences of his 2011 ordeal, a fourth surgery for spinal stenosis was again performed in March 2014 to preserve nerve function and decrease pain. His post-surgical delirium was profound, and he remained in a rehab facility for an additional two months. After finally returning to his own home, he was immediately bounced back to the hospital a week later with a mysterious respiratory ailment and other complications. The doctors were quick to assume a cardiac-related problem, but the culprit was found in his home during his hospitalization. A long-standing water leak from a drainage pipe under his apartment had resulted in the growth of black mold in the flooring, the walls, and on several belongings that had been subjected to the moist environment.

So while I was chasing down my mystery grandfather during the bulk of 2014, Brighton Daugherty was struggling to regain a semblance of a normal life. And as I looked for the whereabouts of this mystery man, Brighton Daugherty had no home to call his own. He was sent back to a rehabilitation facility in early summer, 2014, after his hospitalization.

After hours upon hours, and days upon days of struggling against bureaucratic red tape, Donna was finally able to arrange living quarters in an assisted living center in Lakewood, a community contiguous with Denver, Colorado, on its west side. Although not at all what Brighton considered an ideal situation, it allowed him certain amounts of freedom, but consistent health care he was now unable to provide for himself.

My initial contact with Donna via AncestryDNA coincided with his move into his new home.

The corporate owner of Brighton's previous apartment had deemed his living space uninhabitable due to the mold, but they were still in possession of almost all of his personal belongings. Bright had nothing resembling the comforts of home for the majority of 2014. He was often agitated and confused about his new move, and he was verbally unhappy with his prospective new life, marginalized from society and devoid of the adventures he craved. He abhorred the presence of rules he was expected to follow.

This was not a good time to spring upon him the news of a previously-unknown sixty-seven-year-old daughter living in Indiana.

Frustratingly, that would just have to wait.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Explanation and a Commercial Break

I am afraid you have all run off and abandoned me when the story is just getting good. But of course, the fault would be mine, as it appears I ran off and abandoned you as well.

I did not.

I left my home in Granger, Indiana, on Friday, January 9th. I was supposed to board a plane at the ungodly morning hour of 7:35 a.m. and be happily skipping and frolicking in Salt Lake City, Utah, by 1:10 p.m. that same day. I was to be a guest lecturer in the German track of SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) that was to begin that following Monday.

Skipping and frolicking was not to be had on Friday, January 9th.

Although northern Indiana had experienced snow the night before, my flight was on time. And because I hate feeling rushed, I had arrived at the airport by 5:30 a.m. South Bend's airport is small, and check in and security checks take only minutes, but I would rather sit on my computer than feel like I am racing to the airport to beat the clock.

I had my breakfast and coffee at the airport. I bided my time playing with new 23andMe results for my paternal great-aunt, my deceased grandfather's only remaining sibling. Routine announcements were made about boarding. Air travel is tedious, but there is something blissful and secure about routine. All seemed good. After boarding my plane and drifting in and out of sleep (which I can do seconds after taking my seat), I realized we had not left the runway. It was just the normal dilly-dallying of flights ahead of us, and repetitive de-icing procedures while we waited. But we sat too long. The pilot announced the crew had timed out, and FAA regulations would not allow them to continue to fly, even though this first leg of my trip was just an hour-plus jaunt to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Everyone sullenly filed off the plane.

Chaos ensued.

You cannot cancel a flight at a small airport like South Bend, Indiana, and then find enough seat space on the few subsequent flights scheduled to leave that day to make everyone happy. I was booked on another flight a few hours later that never made it to South Bend. It was canceled in Chicago because of mechanical issues.

I sat in the airport in South Bend, Indiana, for sixteen hours. Waiting. Delayed. Canceled.

After several aborted attempts to go ANYWHERE, I was finally told there was no way I was getting to Salt Lake City that day. The best they could offer was to come back the next morning to try the same scheduled flight routine that failed me that day, or get on the only flight remaining out of South Bend to Atlanta, Georgia. I figured getting to Salt Lake City the next day out of Atlanta held more possibility of coming to fruition than doing the South Bend dance again. So I went to Atlanta.

The details of incompetence once I got to Atlanta would fill pages, but briefly I will say I got a hotel  arranged from a gate agent who was less than happy to help at the end of her shift, and I got on a shuttle to said hotel that arrived at the airport ninety minutes after its supposed "every thirty minute"  continual service.

The hotel was nearly forty miles from the airport. I was exhausted. I was given a card key to a room that did not work. Three keys later, I was no closer to getting into my room. On the fourth trip to the front desk, I asked for a new room instead of a new key. Once I got to the filthy room, I realized I  had left my wake up call under the old room number. I picked up the phone to dial the front desk only to realize the phone was not attached to anything. It was merely a prop. As too was the alarm clock that was plugged in but nonfunctional. I brushed my teeth with my finger and hand-sanitizer and went to bed.

I had to be back at the airport in two hours.

Although the flight to Utah was on time, I arrived to find no luggage. I also had no luggage claim tags, as the agent in South Bend took them from me when she rebooked my flight but never gave me replacements. I was too tired to be miffed. I just went through the motions and dragged my weary ass to the baggage claims office for Delta.

The gate agent in South Bend was indifferent; perhaps with apologetic undertones, but far from sympathetic. The agent in Atlanta was a she-devil. But the baggage claims representative in Salt Lake City was helpful and perky and personable. I should have noted his name. But I could barely recall my own.

He found my luggage in storage. It got there before I did.


If I was on the last flight into Atlanta, and on the first flight into Salt Lake City, how the hell did my luggage get there first? If there is a worm hole for luggage, I would like them to begin testing for human travel. I was too tired to ask questions. I was just happy to have my belongings intact, even though my sanity was not.

A friend picked me up in Salt Lake City on Saturday. We went to have real food. A meal that included things like eggs. Protein bars, overpriced airport coffee, complementary peanuts, and whatever gum or mints I could find in my computer bag hadn't really sated my desire for nutrition over the past twenty-four hours. When we got back to his house, and I was ushered into the spare bedroom, I just dropped my bag and hit the bed. Then I slept. For a long, long, long time.

Sunday I attended an instructors meeting and registration reception for SLIG. Monday was the first class in the German course, and although I was not lecturing that day, I wanted to sit in and absorb the content of the other lectures, meet the students, and check out the layout of the situation.

Throughout the afternoon, I noticed this slight tickle in my chest. An occasional cough. Hmmmm.... perhaps it's just the dry air? The inversion in Salt Lake City was pretty bad that week. The layer of smog was probably just making my bronchi unhappy.

I lectured on Tuesday. The voice was rough. The tickle had turned into a cough. And each one of them felt like a million little paper cuts in my lungs. I went back to my friend's place and slept for thirteen hours in anticipation of the following day's lecture.

I managed to pull off the next day's lecture, but I honestly have no memory of it. I ached all over. I am sure my friend beat me with a baseball bat during my hours of unconsciousness. On hindsight, I probably infected more people in my class than I enlightened. What has come to be known in genealogy circles as the SLIG-CRUD or the SLIG Epidemic of 2015 encompassed a whole host of respiratory nastiness that took down an outrageous number of registrants, attendees, and instructors.

I had the flu.

I had only anticipated staying with my friend in Utah for a few days and arranging other accommodations with other friends, but I could barely get out of bed. He came and went from work, while I felt miserable, begging for forgiveness for being the houseguest that never leaves. I had raided his plentiful supply of cold and flu remedies in his medicine cabinet. I took enough acetaminophen to destroy my liver and ibuprofen to anger my kidneys. I even had some codeine to add to the Mucinex to dull the cough. Double-dose swigs of NyQuil was the routine end to every night, although my bedtime was becoming more evening than nighttime as I became progressively weaker. The body aches subsided, and each day I felt a little better, but fatigued. I just figured time was necessary for recovery. But for every day I would get to the Family History Library to do research, the following day I would feel significantly worse.

Although SLIG ended, my illness did not. 

The walk to the Family History Library was two miles from where I was staying. I am a walker. That is not a bad distance, and normally it's a good time for me to swill a coffee and contemplate my day of research. It is invigorating. But by the time I would arrive at my destination this week I was drenched in sweat. So much so that I had to undress in the bathrooms and remove my first layer of clothes and ring them out into the sink. Sweating became the norm. I woke up that way. Beads of it would form on my forehead when I walked from my microfilm machine to the rows and rows of film-laden cabinets.

By the following Wednesday after SLIG I had to rest after my morning shower. Rest after dressing. And I even brushed my teeth sitting on the toilet because the whole morning ritual was exhausting. And sweaty.

On Thursday, my disease-addled mind thought I could walk to the Family History Library. It is more or less a straight line from where I was staying. 

I got lost. And confused. My eyes had trouble focusing on the street signs ahead of me. I checked. I was wearing my glasses. I sat on a park bench drenched in sweat contemplating my next move. I went back home.

That evening as I laid in the silence of my friend's spare bedroom, I could hear what sounded like the crunching of crisp dead leaves underfoot on an autumn day. It was the sound of inhaled air fighting to enter my lungs.

I had pneumonia.

I wept. Partly because I was over a thousand miles from home feeling miserable. But more so because I was not myself. The sweating, the fatigue, the inability to draw oxygen deeply into my lungs - these were bad things. Very bad. But I could not properly get into my own head. I felt "other worldly." I was spacey, confused, unable to wrap my head around simple concepts.

I was very sick.

And much to the dismay of friends and family, I did not go to the hospital. I am a veterinarian, and frankly, I would put the diagnostic skills of a veterinarian above most M.D.s any day; especially doctors in emergent-care facilities who are often stuck in a rush-in, rush-out, situation. Although I had taken way too long to diagnose myself, I figured I had pneumonia. A chest x-ray and blood gases would tell me how badly it was, but the treatment was antibiotics. I hadn't turned blue yet, so I didn't need supplemental oxygen. Going to an emergency room or an emergent care facility would accomplish confirmation of what I presumed, and treatment I could already procure. Being a doctor, I travel with an emergency drug stash to cover a wide variety of medical disasters. Luckily, I had the appropriate antibiotics for presumed community-acquired pneumonia. If that didn't turn things around, I would willingly turn my body over to a fully-staffed medical establishment.

Or a morgue.

Twenty-four hours after beginning antibiotics, I felt a bit of my presence returning. But I was oh-so-very tired.

Seventy-two hours after beginning antibiotics, I felt like Michael D. Lacopo - mind, body, and soul - had finally made a reentrance into society. Finally.

And then I had to board a flight for Denver, Colorado. That was a week ago.

Thankfully, it was uneventful.

I am back in Salt Lake City, Utah, to FINALLY do some research, and to lecture at the FGS 2015 National Conference. But I am also responding to several hundred unanswered emails. Yes, I said several hundred.

I am hoping to get caught up with my life as quickly as possible, and to pick you all up for the continued ride you have shared with me. I promise not to disappoint you again. I cannot promise I will not die, but let's just say it's not currently on my agenda.

BUT.... until I can pick up where we left off, let's talk genealogy. And research. And spending valuable, fun time together.

I will be teaching an advanced course in Pennsylvania research this summer with the knowledgeable Sharon Cook MacInnes, Ph.D., at GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) from July 19 to July 24. The class is shaping up to be something extremely exciting and fun and brimming with information. See more details at 2015 Pennsylvania: Research in the Keystone State | Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

I tell you this now because GRIP registration for this course opens on 18 February 2015 at noon Eastern Standard Time. There are only a limited number of registrant positions, and classes fill up quickly. I would love to see you in person and share my passion and my knowledge with you! Mark your calendars and check out the registration process at Registration | Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

I am alive. I am mostly well. I am also scatterbrained and way behind schedule. But I owe you a blog.

Where were we?

Oh yes, I have to take my mother to Denver to meet her father.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Waiting Impatiently

Just a brief word of reassurance to those who have devoted a lot of their valuable time and energy reading my blog and sharing my journey over these past several months.

I have not disappeared.

Let me first bait you a little bit and tell you, there is SO much more to this story! So, so, so much more. 

In the ten days since my last blog post, I have endured a two-day air travel nightmare that should have taken just a single afternoon. That alone could have been a blog post from hell. Since my arrival in Salt Lake City, Utah, I have been felled with the flu. I am typing this blog entry from a strange bed in a puddle of my own sweat whilst coughing up my left lung.

It has been a less than conducive atmosphere for writing.

Although I will be away from home until February 17, I had fully anticipated keeping you all on board for this crazy ride. I just have to ask your indulgence while the driver of this short bus takes a few extra days to recuperate.

Trust me.

It will be worth the wait.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Reunion, Part II: Telling My Mother

Part II of my mother's reunion with her birthparents follows thirty-two years after Reunion, Part I. (see Hoosier Daddy?: Reunion).

This part of the reunion was significantly different for a number of reasons.

Although not having personally been in the situation of giving up a child or being adopted (...although my mother often told me I was a foundling...), I think there is often a fundamental difference between the separation of a child from each of his or her birthparents. And that difference is well illustrated in my mother's situation.

Helen Marie (Timmons) Miller was an unhappily married woman with three children caught up in the tumultuous divorce proceedings from her first husband. Their marriage having soured years before, she had found the love she wanted and deserved in Frank Strukel. 

And she was pregnant.

Since the discovery of my mother's surprise mystery paternity in February 2014, I have had friends, relatives, and readers of the blog comment, "Oh, now it makes sense why she gave your mother up!" The flash of doubt obviously had to spark in Helen's head once she realized she was pregnant, but I do not think the answer, nor the situation, is as easily explained as people think it to be.

Perhaps Helen's uncertainty of Carol's paternity factored into her decision, but the fact remains that she very quickly convinced herself that the child was Frank Strukel's. And Frank went to his grave believing his eldest daughter was raised by someone else. Helen's first husband, Eldon Miller, threatened to take custody of the only child he was willing to let her keep, four-year-old Sandy, if she kept her unborn child. Frank Strukel, a recently returned veteran of World War II, still bearing the very fresh emotional scars from months in a German POW camp, was living with his parents rebuilding his life post-war. He loved Helen, and he wanted to marry her, despite the disapproving whispers of his staunchly Catholic family. But he was not in an economic position to take on a wife, a four-year-old stepchild, and a newborn baby. And an illegitimate child would further test the limits of the acceptance of his new wife to his Catholic family.

If there were doubts in Helen's mind, she never spoke of them. But it is unlikely these doubts forced her to make the heart-wrenching decision to relinquish her unborn child. Had circumstances been different, it is almost certain that Carol would have been raised Carol Sue Strukel, never doubting her paternity.

The fact remains that Helen did make that heart-wrenching decision. And she carried a child for nine months that she knew she would have to say good-bye to after its birth. The mother-child bond was already formed with every stirring and every kick of the child she would never watch grow up. And based on my mother's original birth certificate, she bestowed on my mother the first and middle names she carries today. Whether it was a name agreed upon by her adoptive parents is debated. They most likely had a say in it, although while both mothers were still living, they both claimed to have come up with her name. Nonetheless, the baby girl born in Goshen General Hospital that New Year's Eve might, had a name; and with each cry or giggle or coo, had a budding personality. But as Helen told the story, she endured my mother's childbirth with quiet, staunch stoicism, because she felt that she was not allowed the selfish luxury of showing discomfort and garnering pity. This pain she endured silently because she would be forever unable to feel any further intense emotion - joy, sadness, pain, pride, anger, laughter, love - with the daughter that would grow inside her, but be nurtured and flower under the care of someone else.

The mother-daughter reunion in 1982 was a tearful, joyous reconnection of that invisible umbilical cord that is never permanently severed when a mother loses a child.

Conversely, a birthfather's role in bringing a baby into this world can run a gamut of scenarios. There is no doubt that Frank Strukel relinquished the child he thought was his with emotional regret. When discussing baby names when Helen again became pregnant in 1948, he brought up the name Carol as a way to remember his first child. That daughter, Dianne, remembers overhearing a conversation as a child between her parents regarding an adopted baby, fearing that she was the adopted child they were discussing. Memories of the child born on the last day of 1946 was rarely far from either of their minds.

Very soon after discovering my mother's unknown paternity, and at the beginning of my search, I remarked to my cousin Lisa that I would now be blessed with FOUR grandfathers: my father's father, Dean William Lacopo, Sr.; the father of my mother who raised her with devoted love and affection and was the grandfather of my childhood; Raymond Ezio DePrato; the father of my mother who lived his adult life thinking he relinquished his daughter and loved her from afar in his own personal way, Frank Louis Strukel; and as then the yet-unidentified biological father of my mother that gave her life.

That man was Harold James "Brighton" Daugherty.

In 1946, this man was known as Jim Daugherty. Whereas Helen had to carry her child, hold her after her birth, arrange for another couple to raise her, and tell her goodbye; Jim's function in my mother's creation was likely limited to one physically gratifying encounter with my grandmother. He never knew of his child's existence. He didn't even have to sign away paternal rights to her adoption. He lived his life from that pivotal moment in the spring of 1946 blissfully unaware.

That does not make him any less significant in my mother's existence, and therefore in my own. I tend to be prone to deep introspective thought, and I get my mind blown by deep existential reflection of the fate of my very being had that random encounter not occurred. And as a genetic genealogist and a medical professional, I am fascinated by the parts of me, physically and emotionally, that are "Daugherty". In the "nature versus nurture" debate, I firmly believe there is an enormous amount of nature involved. And so who Jim Daugherty was, who he is, where he came from, and what makes him tick are subjects vitally important to me.

And these things I believe are also vitally important to my mother. But early in my search, her interest was primarily academic. By identifying that her paternity was not what she had been told thirty-two years previously, I changed her story. I altered her perception of her creation. And so a new story had to be written, but this time the actors of the original script were gone. Helen could answer no questions. She could confirm no doubts. She could not be asked to recall any stories. And whomever the man was that also entered the stage in 1946 was likely gone too. The story would be mostly conjecture. As a genealogist, I was compelled to refill my emptied family tree of one-quarter of its previous inhabitants. And as a son, I need to answer the questions I had now laid before my mother.

Since the early assumption was that my missing grandfather would be approaching 100 years of age, there was no anticipation of meeting the man who was her father. And even on the infinitely small chance that I would find a living being, my mother was decidedly disinterested in meeting a man who had no emotional ties to her mother and had no knowledge of her existence. The question was mostly raised when discussing the possibility of finding half-siblings, but again, she felt there would be nothing more than a biological connection. She could see no reason to insert herself into anyone else's lives and create the potential for emotional upheaval. But there was curiosity about what this man may have looked like. Where was he from, and what did he do? Questions that were mostly biographical and mostly based on curiosity.

As my DNA research dragged on, my mother's interest waned even more from the beginning mediocre curiosity. She held little interest in hearing my news of autosomal DNA match percentages . She saw more of a failure to identify a man with each test, rather than the pathway it was creating to  confirming the identity of her father. When the path led to a family unwilling to help us in our search, who selfishly responded that they thought the search was "useless and futile," my mother was even less interested in knowing the truth.

Even my excited phone call to my mother while driving to Dayton, Ohio, outlying the surprise discovery of two Daugherty brothers, one of whom was likely her father, met with little outward emotion. I had made numerous phone calls like this before, discussing candidates to test, and how they seemed to be a good match to be her father. All of them ended with no answers. Perhaps the perceived closeness of the AncestryDNA connection didn't really sink into my mother's mind during that phone call. After all, I had been babbling about DNA continually for much of the preceding year.

"Just let me know when you know something."

At 12:59 p.m., on the afternoon of Wednesday, 22 October 2014, I shot a brief, shocked email to Donna, who had been my contact to Brighton Daugherty, informing her that the profile she created revealed that he was my grandfather.

At 1:09 p.m. I called my mother.

In preparing to write this blog, I called my mother and asked her about that fateful afternoon phone call. Frankly, after the exciting culmination of an enormous amount of time, money, and effort, I had no real recollection of it. I can tell you that my phone indicates that we spoke for thirty minutes and twenty-two seconds.

I don't recall shouting, sobbing, wailing, laughter, crying, comforting, or any cork-popping champagne moments. Nor does my mother.

Oh, I was excited. My heart was beating wildly, and my brain was processing rapidly, but still woefully behind on sorting all the miscellaneous data I had accumulated in my head.

The agreed upon consensus between my mother and myself was that the overriding emotion of the phone call was shock.

"Mom, it's me. Remember the AncestryDNA match I told you about the other day? His data just finished processing on the other site I needed to use to understand how he is related." 
"He's your father. Harold James Daugherty is your father."
"And he's alive."

Silence. Shock. Processing.

"I need to meet him. When can I meet him?"