Tino, for whom English was a second language, struggled thru school, and failed to graduate, walking out when he learned he lacked one required credit, refusing to return for another semester. When he reached adulthood and met a young woman he wanted to marry, Tino needed a copy of his birth certificate to obtain the marriage license. He didn't know that this simple request was about to blow his world apart.
The task fell to an older brother to take Tino aside and explain that the names of the parents he would see on his birth certificate were not the people he grew up calling Mom and Dad. In reality his birth parents were his oldest "brother" and a cousin that he had never met.
Tino learned that his birth mother was just fourteen when she got pregnant by her first-cousin, a shameful situation in this devout Catholic family. She was kept at home and her pregnancy was concealed from the small community where they lived. When the time came for her to deliver the baby she was taken to a hospital nearly 100 miles away, rather than to the local hospital. Her parents gave her son an English first name on his birth certificate, with the plan being to put him for adoption. However, Tino's paternal grandmother stepped in and insisted that she be allowed to raise the little boy, her first grandson, as her own, and so he came home to the tiny house and big "brothers". Tino's birth mother was never allowed to see or hold her baby, the family believing this was the better way to handle things. She and her family soon moved away to another state.
Tino, had grown up believing that his grandparents were his parents, and that his uncles were his brothers. He had no idea that his oldest "brother" was in reality his father. The secret had been well kept within the family, giving no thought to a day when he would have to be told the truth. If others knew, and surely there were some who did, no one had ever enlightened him. Tino was shocked, and he was angry; his anger over that deception was to burn inside him for years to come, and he longed for the love of a mother he had never known.
Afterward: This is a true story. "Tino" is my previous husband. It was I who finally made the long-overdue connections and arrangements for him to meet his birth mother when he was well into his thirties. The memory of that meeting will remain forever in my heart.
Tino, ever "macho" in demeanor, was shaking like a leaf the day we walked hand-in-hand to the door behind which his mother and two of several half-sisters waited to meet him. When the door opened we gazed upon a face that so closely mirrored Tino's own, that there could be no doubt as to who she was. They share the same smile and the same bright green eyes, unseen in the rest of their family. We also soon discovered that she shared Tino's "wild child" personality, never having quite grown up after giving up her adolescence so young.
Many hours of conversation, laughter and tears followed. Tino learned that she had never come looking for him because she had been told that he wanted nothing to do with her (another family ploy to keep her out of the picture).
That day, as mother and son embraced for the first time, a crack appeared in the steel armour that had surrounded Tino's heart. The first seeds of healing were planted, and the secret no longer held power over their lives.
Our writing prompt for this week's edition of Two Shoes Tuesday was "secret".