When an 81-year-old man from Grand Rapids, Michigan lost his wife, his world was turned upside down. Because he had been married to her for most of his life, everything had changed in that instant she was taken back to God. As part of the grieving process, Tony Trapani began cleaning out the closets and drawers that his deceased wife once called her own.
During that process which took Tony days, he discovered many interesting mementos from the woman who had changed his life for the better. But among the collection of odds and ends, he found a letter dated 1959. When he opened it up, he realized he had been missing a big part of himself for years…
The letter was addressed to Tony but had been hidden from him for decades. Why? Because the truth it revealed had been too startling for Tony’s wife to accept. And she did not want her husband to know the truth – at least while she was still alive.
In that letter, Tony learned that another woman he had been with had given birth to his son.
Because his wife had felt betrayed, she kept the knowledge secret from Tony. But the letter revealed everything Tony needed to understand:
“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.”
Tony was dumbfound by the news and also elated. He was overjoyed to know that a part of him existed. He learned his son’s name was Samuel Childress, who has lived a long life and is now 61-years old.
Because Tony and his wife never had children, the existence of Samuel was a godsend to Tony.
But it also broke his heart. He knew how much his deceased wife had wanted a brood of their own. It must have broken her to know that Tony had gone behind her back to make a baby with another woman.
“Why my wife didn’t tell me, I don’t know. She wanted children. She couldn’t have any. She tried and tried.”
While Tony will forever love his wife, he now holds resentment to her for withholding this letter for so many years.
“He’s my full son that I’ve had my whole life, but why my wife hid that letter is beyond me.”
Because Childress’s mother never got a response from Tony, she assumed he wanted nothing to do with her and Samuel. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Tony simply did not know that his son had been born. If he knew, he would have done everything he could have done to help that boy grow into a man.
But because his father never responded to the letter, Childress grew up thinking his dad had abandoned him.
“I always asked my mom, I said, ‘Well what does he look like?’ She said, ‘Well, go look in the mirror.’”
Now that Samuel and Tony have been united they have a lot of catching up to do.
“Just to know him now is so important to me. It’s going to fill that void.”
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