Father's Day is always a strange time for me. My parents divorced when I was a year old and I never knew my father. Through genealogy research in December 1999, I discovered that he had died in 1983. The Social Security Death Index gave me that clue, but nothing else. Where should I start looking for a death certificate?
I ordered his Social Security application. It was issued in Virginia, stated he was born in Bronx, New York and gave his mother's maiden name (which turned out to be wrong). I tried to order his birth certificate, but was told I needed his death certificate to have access to it. I looked to Florida where I knew he had lived. Jackpot! I found his death certificate and discovered that he had remarried. The certificate gave his wife's maiden name (an unusual last name) and his mother's maiden name (different than that on the SS application). So I searched....for years. Finally, I discovered his marriage record. His wife's maiden name was on it of course, however this time it was spelled differently (making it more unusual) than it was on the death certificate.
I sat back for a moment after this new discovery. I wondered if she had remarried. Did she go back to her maiden name? To this day I cannot fully explain why I did the next action. I typed her maiden name, as it appeared on the marriage record, into Facebook to search. It came back with an exact match. I sent her an email and she sent one back. The final result... I met my grandmother, uncles, aunt, and cousins for the first time last year on Father's Day weekend, at a cousin's wedding. I also discovered I have two half-brothers whom I haven't met yet, but hope to some day.
Last August we went on a family vacation to Disney. While there we took a side trip to visit my father's grave. It was emotional of course. All of the things that could have been, but were not. My sons laid stones on his grave, then proceeded to climb the trees and mess around with everybody else's gravestone. I think they had the right idea. Life goes on. Finally, I took a photo and said good-bye.