Part 2 – “Who’s Your Daddy” or “Brother, Who Art Thou?” or “Hello, Auntie Char!!!”

My Dad was 25 and Mom was 16 when they married.  What Mom didn’t know then was my Dad had been involved with a married woman who gave birth to a son, Duane. Rumor has it that Duane was always loved, accepted and treated as a favored son by Ed, the Dad who raised him.  I think I would have really liked Ed!  What a guy to know the kid wasn’t his but he still chose to love him as his own! Like I related in part 1 of this saga, I was about 12 years old when I heard of this and Mom confirmed it.  After that I put it out of my mind, got busy with my teenage years and then college, marriage and kids of my own.  I do recall one time around the mid-1980’s my sister and I were visiting family in Minnesota and on our last day there we stopped at the local café on Main Street to have farewell breakfast with one of my brothers. Lo and behold, dear brother Merle called Duane over to our table (not a planned meeting I’m sure) and introduced us.  We exchanged a few pleasantries and then Sister and I hopped in the car and drove to Minneapolis for our flights home.  Once in the car I said something like “awkward, being introduced to your brother from another mother!”  My sister didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, so I explained to her that we had just met brother Duane!  After that I again put it out of my mind.  Then in summer of 1995 Jerry and I were back in Minnesota for an all church picnic reunion.  I overheard a man (aka Duane) say to one of the women, “Who is that?” (referring to yours truly) and she replied, “Why that’s Charlotte Sherman”.  Of course, I’m sure she used my maiden rather than married name so there would be no doubt who was my Daddy.  I remember thinking, “Oh my goodness, that is my brother from another mother”.  I really wanted to talk with him because I have to tell you he looked so much like memories of my Dad that there was no doubt in my mind as to his parentage.  However, a church reunion just didn’t seem the appropriate time or place to stroll over and say, “Hi there, I’m your little sista, big brother.”  It may seem I’m making light of a serious situation, but if one can’t inject a little humor into these revelations from the past, why bother talking about it at all.  I mean seriously!!!!

I am very sad to report that I did have good intentions about someday getting in touch with Duane.  But by the time we moved back to Minnesota in 1998 Duane had passed away (May 1997).  I didn’t know about his son Robert until recently and then learned he too had passed on in 2016.  So why in the world am I sharing all this with you?  I think it’s an interesting story, but most of all I think it’s sad that a lot of us (including some of you, dear readers) who may have family members you’ve never met or even know about.  I deeply regret that I didn’t take the time to get to know this brother. His step-son, Kent Thompson, is a young friend of ours and the one who recently visited us in Anthem with his wife, Brenda & their son, Kevin. Kent brought the brother Duane relationship to my attention, and he and Brenda expressed excitement to learn of our connection.  We couldn’t have picked anyone we’d rather have as relatives, and we now prefer to leave out the word “step” because it really doesn’t matter.  What is meaningful to us is the opportunity to have another nephew to add to the list of my amazing nephews who are Dmitri, Daniel, Randal Scot, Terry, Jon, and Tim.  I want those 6 to know I love them all very much and just feel extremely blessed to welcome Kent to the family.  I also have 3 step-nephews named Mark, Craig and Kent.  So now to add to the confusion there are two Kents!  That’s OK, the more the merrier. 

I could have chided Mom for marrying Dad, but she really loved him and had they not married there wouldn’t be me or our talented sons or those amazing nephews God has given us, or my wonderful sister and interesting brothers.  Jerry found this quote somewhere and shared it with me so I’m sharing with you.

“We may not always know all the branches of our family tree, but when we find them our tree blossoms a little more.”

Thank you, Kent, for adding to our family tree!  Add Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) 

I do believe those words with all my heart, and I’m so thankful for a forgiving Mother who married Dad in spite of his transgressions, and I’m really thankful for my life, discombobulated though it often is, and I’m thankful for friends and family and everyone who has a sense of humor. In closing, my final words of advice that I’m really, really, really trying to put into practice is to forgive and pray for family who you find difficult to love or forgive. In the words of William Law, “THERE IS NOTHING THAT MAKES US LOVE SOMEONE SO MUCH AS PRAYING FOR THEM.”  Seriously—-it does work!


  1. Linda Johnson

    The story is an important one for all to read…….the bottom line is that this child was loved. A parent is really the one who cares for, nurtures, and raises a child not necessarily the one who was the sperm donor.

    Glad your family tree is happily going. Love, Linda

  2. Roxanne Lillis

    I truly believe it is time for the human race to just stop using past transgressions as a barometer of how we treat others. As someone who has researched our family, I have tried to be respectful of these transgressions, but the truth is the truth. I love finding new family members… the more the merrier, regardless on how they were added. Thank you for a lovely, heart felt blog.

  3. Judith Spillman

    Oh Char, I’m so grateful that we are family! You and Marian have been in my prayers since Francis’ passing. God helps us “get past”, but I don’t think He expects us to “get over”. Thanks for your thoughtful and sensitive family story; a wonderful writer you are, (channeling Yoda).

  4. Cynthia Johnson

    Thanks Char for sharing your story. Beautifully written! Please visit us for a meal next time in Minnesota. Love, Cindy Johnson

  5. Beautiful!!!! Family is family, as long as you love them! I have (and am) so many “steps” that it doesn’t seem normal, but who actually has a normal family? I also wanted to mention, my husband is Swedish and often talks about the large Swedish influence in Minnesota. Do you have any Swedish blood in your family?

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