When he found that letter from years ago hidden in a cabinet, he couldn’t believe his eyes. As he kept reading it, everything felt more and more surreal to him. It was like all those years with his wife had been a farce. How could she keep the truth concealed from him for so long?
He tried to keep his composure the best he could. But a few days later, an ex-con with a rough past, a leather jacket, and covered in tattoos knocked on the door. And he knew that he could no longer keep ignoring it: now it was time for him to face and accept the truth.
This is the story of an 81-year-old man from Grand Rapids named Tony Trapani. When it happened, he was a widower. He kept a fond memory of his wife, and she thought of her as the best human being he had ever met.
He had been happy by her side, and there wasn’t a day since she passed away that he didn’t miss her. But the precious image he had of her would come down crumbling after what he found out.
It happened years after his wife deceased. He was just cleaning around the house; and at one moment, he decided to look inside the lockers of an old cabinet that hadn’t been used for years.
His first intention was to empty it of useless old stuff. But he also felt curious and tempted to see what old trinkets would be there as relics from the past and take a little stroll down memory lane. Little did he know that he would regret ever doing so.
Tony remembered that cabinet: he and his wife had bought it shortly after they first moved in together. That piece of furniture had accompanied them all their marriage.
It had been a silent witness to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Perhaps, one might think, it had even witnessed some things that were unknown to Tony.
There, he found a lot of old stuff. Some of it, he didn’t give it much thought; some brought back merry memories from times past.
Most of the memories brought over by those old trinkets reminded him of times with his wife. But there was also something else: something that would introduce him to a part of the past that he didn’t know about. And it wouldn’t be a pretty one.
Inside one of the lockers, Tony found a yellowish envelope. He brought it out; it had been opened. He thought it wouldn’t be anything important, maybe some bill or receipt. But he examined it.
It was a letter without a sender’s name or address. Now he wondered what that could be. He brought out a handwritten letter from the envelope and started reading it.
As he kept going through the letter’s lines, his hand kept trembling. He just couldn’t believe what he was reading. He couldn’t believe that all that had been happening and that he had remained clueless about it.
And especially, he couldn’t believe that his wife had the nerve to not ever tell him anything and keep him in the dark for so many years. How could she do that?
After he was done reading it, he read it once again. And then one more time, and another one. There was no way around it: his wife had lied to him for years.
He sat down on the side of the bed, trying to come to terms with it. Now, all his time with her seemed like a farce, like a cruel joke. There was a child that had been concealed from Tony’s knowledge.
He spent a few minutes sitting on the bed, trying to accept what he had just read. And after a while, he decided what he would do. He had to locate the individual around whom the letter centered. He was resolved to look him in his face and have a talk, man to man.
So he made the necessary arrangements. He hired a private detective to track him down. And soon enough, he had the name and address of that man. He wrote to him and told him about what he had just found. A few days later, someone knocked on Tony’s door: it was him.
He had been released from prison just a few months ago. Tony didn’t know that, but it later came up during their long conversation. When they first saw each other, they didn’t say anything.
They just stared at each other in the eyes for a few minutes. And then, they both embraced in a hug, teary-eyed.
That man was named Samuel Childress, and he was Tony’s son. But he wasn’t born from his wife; he was the child of one of Tony’s past lovers. She had sent him that letter years ago, letting him know that she had just given birth and that the kid was his.
But Tony had never known about his son or that letter. For all he knew, his past lover had long ago forgotten about him. But now, father and son met each other for the first time. If Tony hadn’t found the letter his wife hid from him, they would have been forever strangers.
“Dear Tony, I bet you are surprised to hear from me after so many years. I was just thinking about you tonight like so many other nights. But I thought I would write to you and find out how you are,” the letter said.
“Tony, please don’t be angry or surprised to hear this. I have a little boy. He is five years old now – gray eyes and beautiful black hair. What I am trying to say, Tony, is he is your son.”
“Please, Tony, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, please come and see him. Every day he asks me where his daddy is, and believe me, Tony, I can’t even answer him anymore. I would be forever grateful to you if you would just see him. I’ll close now, hoping and praying you will answer.”
At first, it was hard for Tony to comprehend why his wife would hide that letter from him. But now, after talking to his son, he had a better understanding of it.
Tony and his wife tried to have a kid themselves for years. But unfortunately, it was impossible. For years, they didn’t know if the fault was in him, in her, or both.
But now, it was clear. It was Tony’s wife who was sterile. She probably felt afraid that some other woman could give her husband something that she had been incapable of.
But even though she had lied to him about his son, Tony forgave his wife: at the end of the day, she had done it because she loved him, for the two of them, and for the future of their marriage.
But was it really worth it? Gabriel, Tony’s son, hadn’t had an easy life as a fatherless child. He lacked direction, and he was sentenced to prison at some point. But now, he had found the person he had lacked all his life. Father and son walked towards Tony’s living room. They had a lot of catching up to do.