It’s a boy! He is blue-eyed, cherub-faced, 73-inches long and 185 pounds of searching love. Our baby brother has found us, his other family.
Timothy Moss was born in January 1948 in Madera to Jane, a single, 20-year old mother with a toddler daughter. Father unidentified.
I got the phone call three months ago from my cousin, Buck Morrow, in Colorado, whose family tree on Ancestry.com had linked his DNA with someone unknown to us. “First cousin – Confidence: Extremely High,” his DNA matches announced.
Shortly after the “new cousin” listing, he got an email from Tim, cautiously inquiring about a possible family connection. Tim had been looking for his biological father since he was 14 years old, and this was the first time he even came close to a real clue. It was much more than a clue, really. There was an indisputable blood line. Tim tried hard to stay calm.
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Buck’s mom, my aunt Hazel, was one of six children – three boys and three girls. He knew that one of the brothers was Tim’s father. My dad, the late Noble Tiller of Madera, was the middle son and one of the possibilities. Really, with his history of philandering, he was No. 2 “with a bullet.”
Buck hit the internet for some information about this would-be cousin and discovered Tim was a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam and who retired in 2006 from the Los Angeles Police Department as a second lieutenant. They had a nice exchange of information over the phone before Buck handed Tim’s search off to me. Buck didn’t really have a dog in this race.
All I could think about was this 14-year-old boy looking for his father, hoping he might someday know “his people.” Tim’s mother died in 2001 and all hope of paternal information went with her. All she ever divulged about his father was that he was called “Shorty” because he was so tall. My dad was 6 foot 3. But then, so was his older brother, my uncle Carl. All three brothers are now deceased.
I drank a big glass of water and made the call to Tim.
For an hour, we shared histories, family stories and speculation. Over the following days, we traded cell phone photos and made plans to meet. He and his wonderful wife, Maggie, live just an hour and a half from me and frequently went to their vacation condo, which is even closer to my home in Southern California.
Photos of Tim as a young man looked exactly like those of my cousin, DeWayne (uncle Carl’s oldest of two sons), who lives in Oregon. But, Tim’s mother’s age at the time he was conceived made Tim more likely to be my cousin Eddie’s brother, since Eddie’s dad was Jane’s age. Every clue or life situation we matched up pointed to a different brother.
“Was your mom a waitress?” I asked Tim early on. My dad had a restaurant at that time.
Within days, I had submitted a DNA test through Ancestry, as did my cousins Eddie, who lives in Fresno, and DeWayne. There was quite a furor among us to identify the baby daddy. We paced the waiting room of our minds.
Over the weeks, different groups of family enjoyed many meals with our newest members, visited each other’s homes and shared memorabilia. I brought my dad’s military discharge papers and our grandmother’s handwritten recipe for biscuits for him to copy. There was a whirlwind exchange of photos.
DeWayne and his wife, Pat, drove from Oregon to spend a few days with our new cousin-brother. So “Deliverance,” I know.
Almost daily, we would check our Ancestry sites for new information. I was the first to get the “First Cousin” tag. Dang! I would have to make do with the same two sweet brothers I have known forever.
Weeks later the second hit: “Close Family Member.” DeWayne’s DNA match was listed right up there with Tim’s other half-brother’s name (from Jane’s side) on Tim’s family connections. We had a winner.
Tim and Maggie just spent several days in Springfield with his two new half-brothers, DeWayne and Roger, and their families. They were ecstatic to have each other and begin to share their lives, going forward.
Roger especially wanted to share two recordings with Tim: one of their dad talking with an Army buddy after World War II and one of our grandmother’s melodic words. Tim was so happy to be able to hear their voices. He was given two of his dad’s watches and a nightstand that stood by his dad’s side of the bed all his adult life.
We have shared tears as easily as we have shared hearts.
I asked Tim if he was about to be overwhelmed by all these Tillers, texting, calling, loving and pulling at him. He got very quiet for a moment before he said, “I wish you would all just pile up on top of me.”
Tim may have his daddy’s height and shape of his head, but he has our family’s heart forevermore.
Nyla Hallum, formerly of Madera, Fresno and Visalia, is the owner of Outsource Marketing in Riverside.