Thanksgiving is a special time for me. For most people it’s all about Pilgrims, Indians, and Turkey, plus a chance to give thanks. In my case, it’s the time of year that two people, attracted to each other, gave me life. What brought them together will probably always be a mystery? The one person who knows denies that it ever happened, but DNA evidence and adoption records show that it did. I’m the living proof!
Families gather together at this time of year. This couple shared the last name of Banister, with a great grandfather, David Banister (1837-1918), in common, but different great grandmothers. They obviously did not see themselves as related, as stated on the adoption questionnaire in my possession that she filled out. Perhaps it was a holiday family reunion that ultimately brought them together or simply their small town upbringing? They were in high school together, but just over two years apart in age. He had just graduated and enlisted in the Marines, while she had to drop out after her Junior year. I’m guessing that he never knew I existed given the secrecy of the pregnancy and the fact that she was in the care of the Suemma Coleman Home for Unwed Mothers. Just months after I was born, he was in San Diego at Camp Pendleton, married to another of their classmates. I was soon adopted, while he fought for our country in Korea, as did the only man who I called “Dad.” My birth mother went to work and eventually gave birth to a second son she also named Jerry Lee, along with three other children through two marriages. She currently lives in Seymour, Indiana, as does my half-brother. A half-sister has a home in Indianapolis, where I was born.
It’s that 10-month time frame between just before Thanksgiving 1950 and just after my August 1951 birthday that I’m most curious about. Did their relationship continue during this period or was it just a brief affair? She’s still alive at the age of 86 and could answer my questions if she was willing. He died nine years ago, but left me with six half-siblings and a widow that also knew nothing of my existence. DNA brought us all together last Christmas. For the first time in my 68 years of life, I honor the two people this Thanksgiving that brought me into the world. I’m now confident of their identities, as clearly determined this past year, and at least know some of the puzzle pieces of their relationship. I give extraordinary thanks to them for my existence and the other special couple that raised me as their own. Happy Thanksgiving.