Sunday, October 31, 2021


How should he break the news......telling the unsuspecting fellow that he was speaking to his own son, the one he had never heard of? There was no script to follow, no way to soften the surprising truth the old soldier was about to hear.

             Chapter 24

CRESCENT CITY, CA  (June, 2016)

Sacramento to Crescent City, nearly four hundred miles.....following Highway 101 through the Napa-Sonoma wine country, over the rugged Coast Range mountains, and into the imposing, too-touristy domain of the towering Redwoods. By the time he reached Eureka Jerald had bumped into the Pacific Ocean, leaving a last hour and a half drive through the redwood-lined highway to Crescent City.

For much of that eight hour drive, including a fast-food lunch break, his mind churned with one scenario after another, all of them imagining the awkward introduction that awaited him. What would he be like, the one-time soldier who was about to receive perhaps the biggest surprise of his life? How would he react to the young man’s unexpected news?

Pulling off the highway just short of Crescent City Jerald took a moment to refer once more to the pair of computer-generated maps.....getting a lay of the land, orienting himself to the unfamiliar locale. It was not a large town, and the streets appeared uncomplicated. On the map George Casey’s shop was marked with a red star, just off the main thoroughfare. It would not be hard to find.

Minutes later, what Jerald found at that address was a narrow store, one door and one display window wide, mid-block in a string of dated, nearly identical retail spaces.....a boutique yarn store, a pawn shop, a pizza take-out place, and a pair of boarded-up storefronts with “For Rent” signs in their windows. 

Taken together the stores shared the none-too-prosperous look of a 1960s, small-town shopping street. Making his destination easier to identify was the hand-printed banner that stretched across the front window of George’s Computer Infirmary, proclaiming IF IT CAN BE FIXED, WE CAN DO IT!

Pulling into a parking space directly in front of the shop Jerald unbuckled his seat belt and leaned back against the headrest, soaking up the unlikely fact that he was there.....a few short feet away from would likely be another first-ever paternal conversation. He was chuckling to himself as he reread the gaudy banner. Apparently his father was not above some serious self-promotion.

Out of the car and across the sidewalk to the front door, he took a second to peer through the front window, hoping to spot someone inside. All he could make out was a low table in front of the window and further back the long counter that stretched nearly the width of the room. With a last deep breath he pushed the door open, and was greeted by the jangling bell that announced his entrance.

From the cluttered work bench behind the counter a lone man looked up to ask, “Can I help you?”

That was all it took to leave Jerald effectively tongue-tied, with no ready response. He stopped short, taking in the sight of the man as he stood and stepped to the counter. In the young man’s eyes the fellow looked a bit like the soldier he had been.... compact and solid, his short hair tinged with a hint of gray.

“Can I help you?” the unsmiling man asked again. Once more he would be waiting for a reply. “You have some computer problem I can help you with?”

By then Jerald was scolding himself, knowing he must move ahead. Finally, nodding toward the window he noted, “The sign says you can fix anything. Is that really true?” Pausing, he wondered why he had begun with such a silly question.

“Just about.” The fellow’s soft laugh was a bit forced as he tried to make sense of his reluctant visitor. “Is that what you came ask me that?”

A moment later a remembered question had captured George Casey’s attention. “Are you the one who called the other day? To see when I was open. Was that you?”

“Yeah,” Jerald nodded. “That was me.”

“And you said you couldn’t really tell me what you were calling about. Right? That you’d rather show me.”

“That’s right.”

“And here you are. But it looks like you’ve shown up empty handed. What kind of computer problem do you have? You said then that you couldn’t explain it.....and I don’t see that you have anything to show me. I’m not sure I understand.”

The time for pretending was over. Ready or not .....and Jerald was not at all sure he was was time to come clean. “The thing is,” he began. “I never said I had a computer problem. I came this far, all the way from Sacramento, to show you something. That’s true. But it has nothing to do with a computer.”

“Hey, boy. I think you’ve lost me. All the way from Sacramento.....for what?”

George had more to say, more questions to ask, until Jerald, without a word of explanation, held out two folded pages and nodded for him to take them.

Making no effort to hide his obvious skepticism, George took the paper with a half-joking question of his own. “You’re not an undercover lawyer, are you? Serving me with some kind of legal papers.”

With a head-shaking grin Jerald stepped back to let his father find out for himself. In a matter of seconds, as George scanned first one page, then the other, it was apparent he was making some sort of connection.

For a moment it appeared that George Casey had something to say, or more likely some question to ask. He looked up to study the young man standing across the counter from him, then turned back to reread the brief, but telling messages.....the same ones Jerald had presented to his mother. Finally, without giving voice to his wondering, George turned and walked out the back door into the quiet of the alley.

It was hard to know how long his sullen retreat might have lasted. Certainly longer than the two or three minutes it took for Jerald’s timid trek through the shop to the still-open back door. From there he saw the older man sitting on an empty packing box, his head in his hands.

“You okay?” Jerald asked, leaning against the wall next to the man. 

“Is this stuff real?” George asked, deflecting the boy’s question with one of his own. “The dates? The name? Is it really her?”

By then Jerald had concluded it was time for their first real conversation. “It’s real. The date. The place in California, and the boy she called 'her little angel.' It’s all true, every bit of it. It's about Erin Woodman from Tanner ,Oregon.....and the baby a guy named George Casey helped her create.”

“But I thought.........." George mumbled. "Her old man was so adamant about it. He had everything arranged to be sure there would be no baby.”

“Maybe so,” Jerald nodded, now aware of how good it felt to be sharing his good news. “But he hadn’t counted on her running away. Turns out she was gone for several months.....until after I arrived and was put up for adoption."

“Until you......?” That brought George up short, dwelling on a surprising new realization. Peering up into the young man's face he was searching for the words to continue. 

“Of course," he said softly. "Why didn’t I realize that? My God, this is too much. It's coming too fast.”

It took a few minutes longer, but finally George was on his feet, standing in front of the young man who it seemed was his son. With his hands on the young man’s shoulders he wondered if a long, heartfelt hug was in order. But truth be told, the old soldier’s emotional repertoire did not include something that bold.

Instead, Jerald reached out to drape an arm over his father’s shoulder and steer them back inside. “You’re right,” he said as they walked to the counter. “It is a lot. Anyway, I plan to stick around tomorrow. If you have time maybe we can cover some of that ground.”

“If I have time? Hell, I’ll have all day, and all night.”

“Good. So for now let’s see if I can give you an idea of what’s gone on so far. Some things for you to think about.”

Without waiting for George’s reply Jerald continued. “To begin with, when my mother, that’s Erin, left town her folks assumed she had gone off to hook up with you. As you can probably guess, they weren’t too happy about that. But instead she went to some kind of home, the one in San Jose, where she stayed until she had me. By then she knew she couldn’t take care of a kid, so an adoption was arranged. When she finally went back home, without you or a baby, her folks took that as a good thing.

“The next fall she went off to the university at Lawrence. I don’t think she ever declared a major or anything. She just wanted to get away from home. The way she makes it sound when she met a guy and got engaged her mom and dad were really happy. Actually, they thought she had made a good match.”

With a grinning wink Jerald seemed ready to endorse that opinion. “I don’t know a lot about computers,” he said. “Not like you. But I do know that the name ‘Thomas Conners’ seems to carry a lot of weight in those circles.”

“You mean the Thomas Conners, the software guy?”

“That’s him. He’s the one who plucked Erin out of school and made her his wife. No wonder the in-laws were happy about that. Eh?”

That had George pacing to the end of the counter and back. “I knew it all along,” he offered with minimal enthusiasm. “She was miles out of my league. The two of us could never have made it work. At least I had that part right.”

“That may be true,” Jerald replied. “It’s not my place to say. But before you follow that road too far you need to know that it didn’t last.....the Thomas and Erin thing. In fact, she told me it was the biggest mistake she ever made.”

“But why? The guy is a genius, with more money than anyone deserves. And she let him get away? Is that what you’re saying? Why would she do that?”

It was rather fun, Jerald had decided, stringing his father along like that. But in fairness he did owe him the truth. “I think Mom agrees that Thomas is really smart and very wealthy. But she also says he is a jerk. That was her exact words.... ‘the guy is a jerk.'”

“Wow. That is hard to believe. I don’t know what it means, but it’s hard to get my head around.”

George paused to retrieve the front door key from the corner of his work table. “I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I need to slow down and make sense of all this. Why don’t we close up this place and adjourn to the pub. Maybe a cold brew and some nachos will help me figure it out.”

“Sounds good to me.” Jerald was nearly to the door before he stopped short to offer one last bit of information. 

“But before we go you ought to know that in her mind, Erin’s that is, there is some part of her life that’s been missing all along, the part she says would ‘close the circle.’ That’s what she calls it. I don’t know if that’s true. I’m not sure I know what that means. But that’s what she said.”

George did not reply. Such talk was simply more of the ‘too much’ that was already threatening to weigh him down. It was definitely time for a break.

“Look,” he said. “I’d like to buy you a beer. Thing is, I know you’re my own son. But I don’t know if you’re legal or not.”

“I’m legal, and getting thirstier by the minute.”

Friday, October 29, 2021


He had a phone number and an address. The goal was within reach. Still, questions remained. Would the father he had never met welcome his arrival, or reject him? He must tread carefully.


                  Chapter 23

May, 2016 was winding down, and already it had been one of the most memorable months in Jerald Rogers’ young life. He had turned twenty-one the summer before without ever having known his birth mother or father. Yet in the last few weeks he had met his mother, a sister he never knew he had, and visited at length with his newly discovered Aunt Ruth. 

Now he slumped back in his recliner, reviewing the notes he had scribbled as Ruth Turner read George Casey’s address and phone number to him. For a time he was afraid she would not offer those details. When she finally did it felt as though he had found the last missing piece of a very convoluted puzzle.

In all his years he had seldom dwelled on parental considerations beyond the comforting confines of his adoptive home. But there he was, scanning that hard-won cache of information, knowing it might well take him to places he had never expected to visit? 

In times past, when his wondering had taken him beyond the family he knew so well, it normally settled on the birth mother who had cared so little that she was willing to give him away. He could not remember a time when those same questions about an absent father had captured his attention.

Now, with Ruth’s information in hand, Jerald could dial up George’s Computer Infirmary and introduce himself to his own surprised, and perhaps unbelieving father. 

That, in turn, would likely lead to awkward questions he was not so sure he could answer, especially in the confines of a phone call. There ought to be a better way, and in a matter of minutes he had settled on what that was. With that decided, it was time to talk with Megan.

“I need to drive up to Crescent City, to meet him. It’s the only way I’ll know for sure.”

Without a word in reply Megan was trying to interpret Jerald's mischievous, raised eyebrow frown. He had more to say, though it might take a bit of coaxing to loosen his tongue. Yet, from the first time she read the notes he had gathered from his telephone conversation with Ruth Turner, she had known there would be no holding him back.

“You’re sure about that?” she asked. “Maybe you ought to call him first, to have some idea how he’s going to react. Wouldn’t that be smart? You know it’s going to be a big time surprise, no matter how you tell him.”

“Well, I plan to ask if I can have Friday off work. I’m sure Harry will be okay with that. Then I'll call George at his shop, just to be sure he’s there on Friday. There’ll be no need to explain what I’m about. As far as he’s concerned I’ll just be another customer wanting to know when his shop is open.”

In all likelihood the Pleasant Hill Hardware Emporium did not receive the benefit of Jerald Rogers’ best efforts the next day. He was there, of course....behind the counter, stocking shelves, helping customers find what they wanted. Yet time after time he caught his thoughts wandering off in a very different direction.

Shortly after lunch Harry, his supervisor, had referred to the shift-schedule board on the back wall of the office. A few minutes later, having changed two or three assignments, he had approved Jerald’s ‘Friday off’ exchange for taking a Saturday shift the next weekend. As much as he looked forward to having his weekends off, Jerald had accepted that as a fair trade.

With that preliminary business taken care of, there came the impending main event, his call to the man who must surely be his father. It was that possibility which threatened to sabotage his business-as-usual workday. The initial conversation he envisioned with his father would be brief and absolutely noncommittal, revealing nothing of substance. So why did it have him so on edge?

It was a few minutes after three, break-time in the employee lounge, when Jerald set his page of notes on the table. Pausing for a moment he tried to imagine George’s Computer Infirmary....what it was and what it looked like. Then he poked the phone number into his cell phone and put it to his ear.

The phone was ringing, and ringing, and ringing. In a matter of seconds Jerald was checking the number again. Had he dialed it correctly? Then at last his patience was rewarded....with a hurried, “Can you hold a minute?”

What was that about? Of course he could hold. In a real sense he had been on hold for nearly twenty-two years, at least when it came to his birth father. With the phone still to his ear he could make out the rustling of papers and shuffling of something more solid, followed by a harsh, “Get out of here.”

Then finally the voice returned. “Sorry about that,” it said. “Damn cat likes to make its nest on my desktop. Makes a mess of everything.” With a soft chuckle, it added, “Now then, what can I do for you?”

It took a second or two for Jerald to realize the ball was in his court. “I was just calling,” he stuttered. “To see if you’re open Friday afternoons. I have something I’d like to show you.”

“I’ll be here, until at least five-thirty or so. If you can give me an idea what it is I can probably tell you if it’s something I do.”

An idea of what it is,” Jerald repeated to himself. Why had he not expected a question like that? Why did he not have a better answer?

“That’s okay,” he replied. “It’ll be easier to show you, than try to explain. I’ll be in Friday afternoon.”

“You know how to find the shop?”

“I have the address.”

“Okay then. I’ll see you Friday. Thanks for calling.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


Would she respond, the woman he hoped was his aunt.....the sister of the birth father he had never met? Could she help him in his search?

Aunt Ruth's call produced a tense and hurried exchange of long-held questions and unexpected answers. Though he was learning more by the minute, did she know where his father was? Would she be willing to tell him?

               Chapter 22

Jerald had sent his letter to Ruth Turner, offering an abbreviated version of his birth-family search. Though he had yet to put it in the mail he was a bit surprised to find that his own thoughts were taking on a new direction. Later that night, when Ryan had finally cried himself to sleep and Magen had shuffled off to their bedroom, he took his hot chocolate to the computer room and settled deep into his recliner. 

There, with eyes closed, Jerald tried once more to bring a vision of 'him,' the father who had taken center stage in his parental search, into focus. That, however, was hard to do when the sum-total of what he knew about George Casey was a name and the not-so-incidental fact that he was his father.


Once stamped, Jerald’s letter to Ruth Turner lay on the kitchen counter for another two days, while he asked himself over and over if his appeal for help was wise. Did he have the right to be asking for the lady’s help? 

Then, on the third morning  without realizing what she was doing, Megan gathered her stack of outgoing bill payments, along with Jerald’s letter, and took them to the mailbox. By the time he noticed it was gone it was too late to undo what she had done.

By Sunday morning he was sure that Ruth Turner had received his letter by then. Perhaps he felt a hint of disappointment when he carried his breakfast coffee to the computer room and logged in to check his emails. There were a couple messages from friends that would require a reply, but nothing from her. Why should he let that bother him, he asked himself again. Maybe she too was going to answer with a letter. On the other hand, she might not reply at all. There was no need to get his hopes up.

As the day wore on those concerns were overtaken by more immediate family matters. It was late that afternoon, as Jerald lay on the living room floor, prompting Ryan to crawl toward him, when Megan answered the phone. A moment later she was mouthing “It’s her” as she handed it to him.

He was still wondering what Megan meant as he put the phone to his ear and answered. An instant later he understood who “her” was. 

“Mrs. Turner?" he asked in surprise. "It’s you isn’t it? What a nice surprise. I certainly didn’t expect a phone call.”

“What else could I do?” By then Ruth Turner was half laughing. “After the way your letter stirred things up in my household. I couldn’t put my questions off any longer.”

“I hope it wasn’t too upsetting.”

“What it did was answer some questions I had a long time ago....ones that were never answered.”

Pausing to assemble her thoughts, Ruth returned with a quiet admission. “You see, my parents never told me why George left so suddenly. It’s like he was just up and gone. Later he tried to assure me that it was nothing I had done. But beyond that I had no idea.”

“Did you know it had something to do with Erin?”

“We knew that he liked her a lot,” she said. “And she seemed to like him, even though she was from the Heights. That was kind of hard to understand.”

"It didn’t seem to matter,” Jerald noted.

“I remember that at the time I thought of calling her, to see if she knew where he had gone.”

“You wouldn’t have reached her. She had run away too.”

“But why?”

Taking a moment to switch the phone to his other ear, Jerald was grinning in Megan’s direction as he went looking for a way to explain. “Long story short,” he began. “When Erin’s father found out she was pregnant he threatened George with jail time. Then he told her that he would arrange for an abortion.

“Turns out my mother was a tough and very brave girl. She left town the next morning, and ended up in California, where I was born. Thing is, if she had stayed in Tanner there would be no me. So I’m glad she got away.”

Jerald had offered his shorthand version of George Casey’s sudden departure. He was waiting for Ruth’s response. Hearing none, he finally asked, “Are you there?”

It would be a few more seconds before she returned. “I guess I am trying to make sense of it,” she answered. Her voice had become soft, almost hushed, as she elaborated.

“After he left Tanner George joined the Army. They trained him to be a computer specialist of some sort. Later they sent him to Iraq and other places over there. He wrote the folks every month or so, but his letters were really bland. He never said much about himself and what was happening in his life. 

“Every couple years, when he came back to the states, Mom, Dad, and my family would meet him somewhere, usually in California. As far as I know he never came back to Tanner.”

“Didn’t he have a family?” Jerald asked when Ruth paused in her narrative. 

“Oh no,” Ruth replied, growing more aware of how awkward a telephone conversation could be. Without seeing Jerald’s reaction to her revelations how could she tell what he was thinking. Still, she needed to explain.

“It’s kind of hard to explain,” she continued. “After he left home he never seemed to care about anything except his work and where it was taking him. He never talked about his friends and the things they did together.”

“So there was no family? No kids?”

There at the kitchen counter, in Ruth’s farmhouse home, Jerald’s blunt questions had won her remembering smile. “I’m sure he liked children. When my boys were young, and we went somewhere to see Uncle George, they always had a good time. 

“But there was never any hint of a girlfriend. As far as I know, something like that was never part of his life.” She paused again, before adding, “Of course, I’m sure he had no idea that he already had a son.”

From Jerald’s Sacramento end of their conversation it felt as though the preliminaries were over. It was time to move on to what really mattered. “So where is George now?” he asked. “Still in the Army?”

“Heavens no. He’s as civilian as can be. He put in his twenty years, earned his retirement benefits, and went off to set up his own little computer repair shop. We saw him there a couple months ago. He seemed happy enough, though I think a part of him still misses Army life.”

“I was never in the Army,” Jerald laughed. “But I can’t imagine there is any of it I would miss very much.”

“You have to remember,” Ruth replied. “The Army was the closest thing to a family he has known as an adult. It's true, you are his closest family. But he has no idea there is even a ‘you.’ As far as he is concerned it’s just him, and sister Ruth, against the world.”

Jerald paused, knowing the time had come. The most important question of all was ready to be asked. “What do you think he would say if he knew?”

For what seemed like seconds his words hung there, awaiting her reply, until she finally mustered a quiet, “Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure," Jerald insisted. "That’s what all this is about. Remember, he’s my father, just like you are my Aunt Ruth. So the question is....would you be willing to tell me where he is, and how I could get in touch with him?

“If you will do that, and it’s not too far away, I want to  meet him....the guy who is my dad. Would you help me do that?”

Monday, October 25, 2021


There was a new helper in this parental search....and it seemed she had found the details he was seeking. But what now? He had never considered the need to plan a next step.

He had a name, very likely his aunt.....his father's sister. Did she have, and/or would she provide the answers he was hoping to find?


                         Chapter 21

Jerald had emailed Susanne, the sister he scarcely knew, on Wednesday. By Sunday evening he had not heard from her and was growing more anxious by the day. Perhaps his first tentative steps toward an expanded relationship with his sister had sent her running for cover. Why should that surprise him? Before the night was over he was mulling the need for a follow-up email, then finally decided he would give her one more day to respond.

That must have done the trick. Late the next afternoon, having changed out of his work clothes, he signed onto his computer, and was greeted with a “Hope this helps” email heading.

Hi Jerald - I hope you hadn’t given up on me. As you know, I am a Southside High girl. I don't really know anyone from North End High, so I wasn't sure where to start. Then I remembered a girl from there who I met at volleyball camp last summer. Her name is Sherri, and I was able to track her down and talk her into playing detective. 

Turns out there is no Alumni office at North End High. At first she thought that would be the end of it, until she heard about a long-time Home Ec teacher who keeps track of former students. According to her notes, in 1997 Ruth Casey married a guy named Robert Turner, who she went to school with at North End.

Sherri thought that was probably the best she could do until the teacher mentioned that Bob Turner was part of the Turner family that owns a bunch of hop fields in Willamette Bottom. So I checked in the phone book and found Bob and Ruth Turner at 21217 River Bluff Rd. That’s a Tanner address. When I drove by it, sure enough it’s a very nice farm at the edge of the Turner hop fields. Odds are that is your Ruth Casey. Hope that helps.

Come see us soon, Susanna  

PS - (Mom doesn’t know.)

“Look at this, honey,” Jerald yelled over his shoulder, without knowing if his wife was within hearing range. 

A moment later, still holding their son in her arms, Megan was standing behind him, reading Susanne’s message. “Good for her,” she said softly as she squeezed Jerald’s shoulder. “Goodness, she even has an address. I think that makes her a detective first class, doesn’t it?”

“I suppose it does.”

“You don’t sound too excited about it.” She had pulled a chair up beside him. Laying Ryan across her knees, she was ready to share in Jerald’s latest parent-seeking accomplishment. “Seems like that’s exactly what you wanted. Right?”

He seemed not to hear her question. Truth be told, Jerald’s thoughts were tracking off in a very different direction, beyond the need to celebrate his momentary success.

For days he had concentrated on how to approach Susanne and the favor he was asking of her, all the while hoping for a productive outcome. Never once in all that time had he paused to wonder what came to reach out to Ruth Turner if she could be found. It was a bit off-putting to find himself facing a whole new round of questions. More to the point, it might take some time to find new answers.


In the end it was the quiet of Saturday morning, three weeks to the day since first meeting his own mother, that allowed Jerald the time and space to begin the awkward process of reaching out to the woman who was likely his aunt, sister of the father he had never met. After days of false starts and frustrating dead ends, his fact-finding expedition could wait no longer.

He had already decided that his task would call for something more than a brief, easily-deleted email.....a good thing since he did not have the necessary email address. Besides, his story and the reasons behind the extraordinary favor he was asking, might take a page or two to explain, certainly more than a couple paragraphs. 

At one point he had paused to consider a phone call. That would allow for questions, answers, and in-depth probing. A moment later he had set that notion aside. In all likelihood he would have only one opportunity to make his case. That seemed to recommend a letter, where he would have the space to present his appeal exactly the way he wanted, without being sidetracked by an unscripted dialogue.

But how to begin? How could he ask his questions without sending Ruth Turner running for  the hills? It would take more than an hour for Jerald to create a final draft of the most unorthodox letter he had ever written.

Mrs. Turner,

I realize you did not recognize the name in my return address. I will explain that in a moment. But first I must beg you to read this letter all the way to the end. I promise I have nothing to sell and no interest in your personal information. I hope you will realize that if you are the Ruth Casey Turner I think you are, my interest in writing you is real.

If you are that Ruth, in 1992 your brother George had a girl friend. Her name was Erin Woodman. Do you remember that? Erin is the one who told me that you had your own bedroom in those days, while George slept on the couch. Does that ring true? I hope so, because it is their relationship I am writing about.

You see, a while back I learned that Erin Woodman is my mother, who gave me up for adoption when I was born. Three weeks ago I drove up to Tanner to meet her, and have her meet my wife and our son. It turned out that Ryan, who is four months old, is her first grandchild. Anyway, we had a wonderful visit, and as you might have guessed by now, Erin told me then that your brother George was my father.

And that, skimpy as it is, is the extent of my facts. Just so you know, my upbringing as an adopted son was the best ever. I couldn’t have wished for anything more. 

Still, I had what I think was a natural curiosity about my birth mother. I was lucky enough to locate her, and am very glad I did. So when she dropped a few hints about my father, your brother....and his little sister, Ruth.....I was anxious to see where those clues led.

Just so you know, both my mother and I understand the risk of upsetting George’s family situation. I realize that might limit what help you can provide. (Erin went through a divorce herself, so I suppose she is more aware of those possibilities than I am.) 

Anyway, I hope you can understand why I have to try. I have never met my father, and didn’t even know his name until a couple weeks ago. Now that I do, I want to know more about him. If, in fact, you are his sister, that makes you my best hope to do that.

Finally, you have my snail-mail address from the envelop, and I am including my email address and phone number below. If I have earned a reply I would love to hear from you in any way you choose. 

Thanks again for reading this far, Aunt Ruth. (May I call you that?)

Jerald Rogers.

Saturday, October 23, 2021


By any measure his 'birth-mother' search had been successful. Yet, as satisfying as that result had been.....why was he still dwelling on the 'not-so-satisfying' reality that further searching would be necessary.

Where would that continued search take him? Where would he find the answers he needed? Who would know those details? Perhaps Aunt Ruth, whom he had never met, who had never heard of him, could fill in those blanks.

                    Chapter 20

SACRAMENTO, CA  (Mar, 2016)

For the better part of a week, in random, unsummoned moments, Jerald had played and replayed the recurring stream of mind-snippets....persistent remnants of their Tanner weekend. It was a new and unfamiliar landscape, that hodge-podge of often conflicting images. Certainly it would take time to digest it all....his birth mother, and sister, and even a grandmother, all of them in a setting so unlike anything he had ever known.

After years of apprehensive questions.... wondering if he really wanted to find the mother who had so callously given him away, always assuming her likely rejection if he ever did find her ....he had been totally unprepared for her warm and welcoming reception. Now, having heard her explanation of the teenage drama that had led to his adoption, those earlier fears had been set aside.

Another pleasant surprise had been Erin Conners’ unwavering willingness to accept and honor Jerald’s adoptive family, the Rogers....Mom, Dad, and brother Larry. Small wonder that by the time his young family left for Sacramento he had accepted his welcoming Tanner reception as an unqualified blessing.

Yet even as he soaked up those affirming moments, Jerald was forced to face a new and unexpected reality. He had gone looking for his birth mother, and with a few fortunate breaks had found her. Then, in the process of getting to know her, he had learned of what she called her “unclosed circle”....her way of defining what was still missing in her life.

Finally, having mulled her descriptive metaphor and the logic it represented for a matter of days, he realized that just like his mother, his own circle was still not complete....for exactly the same reason she had suggested. His own puzzle was missing a piece, the same one that would complete her circle.

Over the years Jerald had imagined many different reunion scenarios, always with his mother in mind, always assuming she was the one who had made the fateful choice to send her infant son away. Fathers were not the ones who normally made those decisions....were they? Sometimes the father could not even be identified. Without a name to go looking for, how could anyone hope to find the father?

Jerald had never questioned that logic. Even in the course of his ‘mother search,’ his birth father had remained a nonentity, with no name or identity. 

But now, almost overnight, all that had changed. His own mother had identified the other half of his parentage....assigning a name to that person. Their son, Jerald, the product of their youthful passion, now knew that name, but little more. 

Still, that minimal clue was enough to make his father's place in the scheme of things more real than ever. By his very absence, and Erin Conners’ obvious interest in him, George Casey had become an increasingly important piece of his son’s life.


Day by day it was becoming ever more apparent that Jerald Rogers’ determined search was not playing out the way he had envisioned. True, he had found his birth-mother, and bonded with her in a most unexpected way. But rather than ending his quest, that comforting reunion had managed to send him off in a new direction. To his surprise, finding his father was taking on an unexpected importance.

His own curiosity, as the son of an unknown father, was perhaps understandable. But what intrigued him just as much was his mother’s unspoken interest in knowing more about the one who had captured her teenage attention so many years before.

To be sure, Erin Conner had denied any such interest in knowing more about her teenage lover .....offering her own reasons why Jerald ought not try to find the man from whom he had inherited half of all that he was. Yet from the first time he heard her speak of George Casey he had sensed her own interest in knowing more than she was willing to admit.

There were, of course, online resources that might help him track the George Caseys of the world. Perhaps their soon-to-expire thirty-day free subscription to the people-search site they had used earlier might help in that effort. 

Yet every online ‘George Casey’ search Jerald could imagine seem to bump head-on into the same disqualifying limitation. Without a reference to the subject’s parents....names Jerald had yet to identify ....or his Tanner, Oregon roots, how could any George Casey he found in an internet search be labeled the right one? There were bound to be hundreds of potential matches. Yet without confirming that basic information there would be no way to tell them apart. 

Finally, after a few days spent considering his 'birth-father' question, he had settled on what seemed to be the challenge he faced.....’To learn as much as he could about the right George Casey, without alerting Mr. Casey to the fact that someone was looking for him'....But how to do that?

In the end the direction of Jerald’s renewed search would be centered on two names. There was George Casey, of course, though that alone would not be enough. It was a second name....George’s sister Ruth, if that was her name....that might offer a better chance of success, assuming she could be located.

For another day or two he played with that scenario, then another....before settling on an email to his still-new sister, Susanne.

Hi Susanne, 

(I was tempted to call you Sister, but I probably shouldn’t get too familiar too soon.)

When you gave me your email address I had no idea I would be using it so soon. Let me start by saying I’m not usually a sneaky kind of guy. But for reasons you will soon see, I would rather our mother did not see this, at least not for now.

You heard her talking about George Casey, who it turns out is my father. As near as I can tell the best way to find out more about him would be to get in touch with his sister, Ruth. Do you remember your Mom mentioning her? 

I realize our mother would rather I didn’t do that. And she has her reasons for that, but it’s my father we’re talking about. If I can learn more about him, without upsetting our mother, I’d like to do that.

And how to find Ruth? I don’t know. Except that when I worked on the Homecoming Committee in high school there was someone on staff who kept track of our dear old least some of them. They had names, addresses, married names, phone numbers, and such.

Assuming that Ruth went to North End High School like George, what are the chances that someone there might know how to reach her? It’s probably a long shot. I know that. Anyway, since you are a high-schooler now I was wondering if you would be willing to take on an undercover project, to see what you could find.

I’m guessing that his sister would know more about a lost brother than most anyone else. Would you be willing to give that a try?

Let me know what you think. In the meantime I hope all is well in beautiful Tanner Heights.

Your brother, Jerald.

There. He had set his unorthodox search in motion. Now there was nothing to do but wait. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021



After a contentious, but rewarding divorce she had returned to Tanner, ready to forget her troubling past. Then, seemingly out of the blue, her own son had arrived on her doorstep.

As welcome as it was....the fact of his surprising presence....she was forced to admit that on a personal level her life was still less than complete. Even after their mother/son reunion the "Circle had not been closed." There was still a missing piece.

        Chapter 19

It was later on that Saturday afternoon, with the realization that he must return to Sacramento the next morning hanging over their conversation, when Jerald asked Erin and her daughter Susanne to join him in a quiet corner of the family room. As overwhelmed as he was by the day’s events, there were still loose ends he hoped to understand better.

“So what happened,” he began hesitantly. “When you came back to Tanner with no baby and no George? I’m guessing you went back to college. Right?”

“That’s right,” Erin replied. “I went down to Lawrence, to the university. I was ready to get away from home and move on with my erase the past. 

"It was there, during my junior year, that I met Thomas. I suppose by then I was grabbing at straws, wanting to feel ‘that way’ again. So we got married. That's what they did in those days. 

"We’d known each other for six or seven months when we went off to Reno for a weekend. By the time we came home we were married.” She paused to reached over and pat Susanne’s head. “And a couple years later this little bundle of joy arrived.

“By then I was sure that everything had worked out for the best, as good as I could hope for. But you know what they say about hindsight. When I look back now, I realize the best times I’ve ever known were spent with George, here in Tanner. Unfortunately, those good times hadn’t lasted. They went away when George left and I gave up my first baby. 

“Anyway, by the time I'd gone through a divorce, and Susanne and I had come back to Tanner, I was seriously depressed about the future I saw for us....wondering how I was going to get by.”

“Depressed?” Susanne exclaimed as she leaned forward to join the conversation. “I never knew that.

“Why would you be depressed? You were back home, in our beautiful new home in the Heights, with the Country Club and all your friends. And you were still so young, not even forty. You had a whole lifetime waiting for you. Why would that have made you depressed?”

Jerald too was having a hard time making sense of Erin's "depressed" talk. "She's right, you know," he countered, picking up on Susanne's logic. "You haven't talked much about Thomas, but the whole world knows that he's rich and famous.....and he apparently left you well cared for. Truth is, I'm still trying to get my head around married to Thomas Conners."

Shaking her head, Erin was shifting uneasily in her chair. “By the time we came back to Tanner I was depressed because my future did not look promising at all,” she insisted. “I had loved two men in my life, and both of them had left me. For the second time what I needed had been taken from me. And by then I certainly didn’t feel young at all. I felt old and alone, with nothing to look forward to.”

Susanne had never before heard her mother’s surprising disclosure. How could she possibly understand? “Mom, you weren’t alone, and you aren’t alone now. Not for a minute. You have Grandma and me right here with you.”

“Of course I do. I know that. And that’s been a huge blessing. Without you two to keep me going, I don’t know what I’d have done. But you know very well that’s not the kind of ‘aloneness’ I’m talking about.”

Turning to Jerald, Erin wanted to be sure he realized the life-changing impact his surprising appearance was making. “As you can imagine, when you handed me that note this morning, the one you’d already showed to Mom, that was something I never expected to see. 

"Once I realized what it was, I felt so blessed ....better than I have in a very long time. To meet my own son, and learn that I have a grandchild, that went a long ways towards closing the circle.”

“Closing the circle?” Susanne repeated quietly. “What does that mean?”

Again Erin was in retreat, looking for a way to explain what she had come to accept as her personal shorthand for gauging life’s completeness.

“Well,” she began. “For reasons I really don't understand, I like to think of life as a the face of a clock, going from twelve o’clock all the way round to where it started. That seems to me one way of imagining how a life should be.

“And for a long time it has felt like my life was something less than a complete the minute hand had stopped at ten or eleven. It never seems to go all the way back to twelve o’clock. There are lots of good things that have happened to me along the way, but at the same time I’ve known all along that something was missing.

“Now, here I am with both of my children for the first time ever....along with a daughter-in-law and grandson.” 

That brought an unembarrassed grin to Erin’s face. “How special is all that? Still, in spite of all those good things, I know there is a part of my circle that is still missing. It’s not closed yet.”

“Only one part?” Jerald asked.

Erin turned away from his question, knowing she must not minimize the impact of her son’s surprising return on closing her own personal circle. “Having you here is a very important part,” she nodded. “More than enough to keep me going to the end.”

“But not enough to close the circle?” Jerald knew exactly where he wanted his questions to lead her. Yet he dare not put words in her mouth. He was hoping to hear her answer, not his own. “But it means that your circle is still not complete.”

“There no need to dwell on that,” Erin replied. “Let me be thankful for what has been added to my life.”

“Of course I will. And you know that we’re just as thankful. But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there? And I really don’t want to leave in the morning still wondering what that ‘more’ is.”

It was a truth that Erin Conners had often denied, even to herself. How could she possibly consider telling him, the son she scarcely knew? 

Still, as Jerald had said, he would be returning to Sacramento tomorrow, and although they had exchanged email addresses and phone numbers, it might be some time before they were again face to face. If his question was legitimate, and it certainly was, it seemed she owed him an answer.

“It seems like you pick up on these things pretty quickly,” she noted. “There is ‘more’ to it, of course, and if anyone deserves to know about that I suppose it’s you. Because the part that is missing, and has been for a very long your own father.”

Erin paused again, and for a moment Jerald was not sure if she would continue. When she finally did, her voice was soft and a bit shaky. “I know it wasn’t his choice to leave Tanner. It was something he had to do. But still, what he left was a hole in my heart, a hurt that has never completely healed.”

“But you ended up marrying Thomas Conners,” Jerald interrupted. “My God, he’s a world-class guy. Everyone knows about him and what he’s done....with his software empire and all that.”

“You can be very sure that I know exactly who Thomas is,” Erin nodded. “But I also knew from the start that I was not a good fit for the life he wanted. And I certainly knew that he was no George Casey, and never would be.

"By the time our marriage was over the best thing about Thomas and me was the daughter we had created.” Her wink was aimed at Susanne, who sat quietly, taking in her mother’s surprising revelation.

“Anyway, I’ve known for a very long time that closing my own circle would require both my missing child and its father. And I was sure I would never know about either of those.” Reaching for her son’s hand, she added, “Yet, here you are.”

“But he’s not here," Jerald replied, taking a moment to make a mental note of George's Casey's last name .....the first time he had ever heard it.

“Of course he's not. He never can be. That’s what makes having you, and Megan, and Ryan with me so very special.”

“But I’m here because I was able to find you.” It sounded as though his mother wanted to drop the subject, but Jerald was reluctant to do that. “What if we tried to find see if that could complete your circle....and mine too?”

“Don’t be silly. He certainly has a family. Probably even me. Why would I do something that might upset all that?”

“You don’t know that he has a family.”

“No I don’t,” Erin agreed. “But I do know that my son has found me. He’s right here, along with my daughter. That has me feeling quite blessed.”

“Do you suppose your friend, George Casey, the guy who is my father, still has family here in Tanner?”

“Heavens, I don’t know. His parents were pretty old twenty-some years ago. But I suppose they might still be around.”

“Were there any other kids....brothers or sisters?”

Erin mulled his question for a moment, before repeating her earlier caution. “Jerald, I don’t want you poking around where you’re not wanted.”

“Come on. I’m not ‘poking around.’ He paused to drape an arm over Susanne’s shoulder. “I just found out I have a sister I never knew about. That’s pretty darn cool.

“If your George has kids, then I have more brothers and sisters. There may be aunts and uncles ....George’s siblings....hiding out there. It seems to me I have a right to know about my own family.”

Noting his mother’s doubting frown, Jerald backed off. What was the sense of sabotaging her upbeat mood? A moment later he was surprised to hear her final ‘George’s family’ revelation.

“He did have a sister....Ruth, I think it was. She was a couple years younger that us.”

With that Erin was on her feet, making for the kitchen, ready to escape her son’s uncomfortable probing.