Category Archives: Family

Butch

5 years ago today, my birth father passed away; one month before I lost my baby, and over 2 years before I found him.

I wish I could have met him. There are times I’m sad I didn’t get the opportunity to grow up with him and his side of the family, but I am eternally grateful I found them at all. It took nearly 20 years for me to find him.

I swear to you, I feel he must have helped guide me to find my sister so I could connect with her and the rest of his side of the family. The series of incredible luck it took for me to find her was just amazing. One right after the other in a rapid succession within hours.

My birth mother gave me two names to find him; his name and his cousin. His cousin’s name was unusual enough that I knew it would be easier to find him than Butch. Since 1995 I regularly search online for Butch and his cousin, but I was never able to turn up any results. I would call information in Hawaii looking for either of them. I had even talked with someone from a veterans group to help search for his service records. What I didn’t know was that Butch wasn’t his real name.  I later learned it was a family nickname. This explained the great difficulty in locating him .

In 2011, and as it turned out, just weeks after he passed away, I did a search, like I had done so many times before, for his cousin.  For the first time I got a hit. I got an actual street address for him. I wrote down the address and then stared at it for a long time.

Now what?

I mean, what do you write to the cousin of your birth father, a man who never knew you existed, and it’s been over 40 years? “Uh, hey! So I’m your cousin’s unknown 41-year-old daughter and, uh, I just wanted to say hi.”

Like, seriously?!

So I sat on the address.

In 2014 Chris and I were preparing for our big wedding and I was in the midst of writing out the wedding invitations. I turned the page on the notebook I was using and there was the cousin’s address… staring at me.  Well, I was already in letter writing mode and I figured one more couldn’t hurt. Besides, what was the worst that could happen? They don’t respond, or it gets returned. Then I was no worse off than I already was.

I grabbed a blank card and proceed to write-up a basic letter with my origin story.  I started with who I was, why I was writing, the story my birth mother gave me about the cousin and my birth father, and the various ways I can be contacted. I even told them to Google me, there’s plenty of pages and video interviews out there if they need more info.

I will admit, there was a tiny part of me that worried they’d see I was a witch and simply never bother to contact me. However, there was nothing I could do to change that fact. Fact is I’m as out of the broom closet as one can get.

About a week went by and a woman I believe was the cousin’s wife friended me on Facebook. I woke to find the notification and was in minor shock. I think I called Chris at work quite excited about it.  I spent about an hour or so looking at her page, mostly scanning her friends list to see if a Butch or anyone with his last name was among the many names. At the time I didn’t find anything.

I scanned her page, saw a neat hula video, and pressed “like”.  That did it! She not only unfriended me, she blocked me completely.  I was incredibly devastated. This was the closest I had ever come to finding him in nearly 20 years since I found my birth mother and learned who he was and it seemed that my best connection to find him was now gone. I was beside myself and unsure what happened or what I should do next.

Fortunately, I remembered some of the names on her list, like her daughters’ names. Oddly, this was the breakthrough I needed! Within the friends lists of her daughters’ I was able to find tons of people with my father’s last name. Every profile with his last name I opened as a new tab. I had over 20 tabs open. I scanned the names and came across two women of which I thought at least one might be his wife. Later I learned I was right on the second name. I searched both of their profiles for Butch, but at the time I didn’t find anything.

I went through a lot of info, scanning for anything that might help me connect with Butch. While I was going back and forth through the profiles I kept going back to the second woman’s page and somehow I opened up a photo album I hadn’t found previously that just happened to be nothing but pics of Butch. I looked at the caption and realized I found him! To be honest I was beginning to think the info my birth mother gave me was incorrect, but there he was.

Just then my father, Ron,  walked down the stairs. Coincidentally he was heading to the airport to spend the week at a family reunion. I started yelling, “I found him!” as Dad was walking toward me. I was so excited! Dad walked over, I pointed at the computer screen to show him. He was really happy for me.

The first pic was of Butch in the early 70s, not long after returning to Hawaii from the Vietnam War.  More pics after that showed him in uniform in various countries.

Eventually I realized all the images were posted on the same day. Then as I read the picture comments it took a second to sink in.  They were all past tense.

“He was…”

I then paid more attention to exactly what people were writing and realized he had indeed passed away. I missed him by just over 2 years.  My heart sank. I sat there for a while crying over a man I never got to meet and who never knew I existed.

As I sat staring at one picture I read a comment from one woman, “Daddy was…” Daddy? I have a sister!

I already had her profile open among the many tabs still open. I went through her profile and discovered she ran a  Hawaiian language and culture organization in Las Vegas. I opened the link to the organization’s website, but discovered there was no phone number and the link to their Facebook page was not functioning. Most of the info on the page seemed to be about 2 years out of date. I really wanted a phone number. The idea of trying to reach her by email seemed like my chances were less likely to connect with her if I didn’t have direct communication. I searched on FB directly to find the organizations page and much to my relief there was a Las Vegas phone number.

I admit, I kinda freaked out for a minute before making the call.  Like the letter to the cousin, what does one say to a sibling that did not know you existed? I mean, these are weird conversations and I hadn’t yet found a Hallmark card that was suitable for this situation.

I was worried if I called her she might be defensive and possibly not believe me. I was so worried about being rejected, but I sucked it up and called her.

For a change I exposed my blocked number so she wouldn’t think I was a telemarketer. However, I got the voice mail and unfortunately, it was not in English. It was all in Hawaiian and I sat there stumped. I had no idea what it said and when the beep came I had no idea what to say, so I hung up.  Fortunately, because I didn’t keep my number blocked, she called me right back. She asked if anyone called from my phone number. I said yes and told her, “this is likely to be the strangest phone call you’re ever going to get” to which she replied, “it already is.” I then explained, “if you’re who I think you are then I’m your sister”.  I feared I’d hear the phone disconnect, but she was still there so I told her the story I was given from my birth mom about her time dating Butch. I gave her all the info I was given. For my sister, the info matched up.  We talked for 45 minutes that day.

This all began around 11am that day and I was on the phone talking with my sister by 5pm. It was a crazy emotional rollercoaster day.

As luck would have it I was planning to be in Las Vegas the week after our wedding for a friend’s wedding.  We chose to meet that Sunday for dinner. My husband sat there listening to us talk. He observed that my sister and I lead different, but very parallel lives.

I’m sad Butch isn’t here for me to meet him, but I’m grateful to have found his family. They’ve been just amazing. Hopefully, next year I can travel to Hawaii to meet the rest of the family.

Kona Blend

My father and his brothers formed a band, Kona Blend. They put out two albums that can be found on YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon. This is the first song my sister introduced me to as we were driving around Las Vegas on our way to an amazing Hawaiian place for lunch. That’s my birth father, Butch, singing.

Original Release Date: April 26, 1979

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Where the heck have you been?

Where do I even begin to start?

Technically, I didn’t go anywhere, I was still here, just not HERE. *points at WordPress* Admittedly, I’ve been more active on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

My responsibilities shifted a bit. Though I didn’t mention it on here previously, one of the new responsibilities I took on began November 1st. I’m the National co-First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess. My new term began the day after I finished my term as First Officer of the Orange County Local Council for Covenant of the Goddess. Though it’s not my first time on the national board, it is the first time I’ve served as NFO, and in the 40 years the organization has been in existence, I’m the first person of color to ever serve as NFO.  What a strange thing to be “the first” of.

So far much of my time as co-NFO has been spent cleaning our Facebook page of spam, moderating comments, replying to comments, and answering emails. That alone is nearly a full time job. It’s amazing that despite our large following how many of them have no idea that CoG is an actual organization, not just a Facebook page for people who believe in the Goddess.

So, after I became co-NFO of course then it was Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice, New Year’s Eve, and my birthday in fairly rapid succession.  Interspersed with preparing my students for initiation into my coven, teaching students for my ritual arts class, hosting Meetups, HOA president (what is this, my 3rd or 4th year now?), HoC business,  getting ready for Pantheacon (then not going because of a family emergency), family and home life.

Oh, and we also got a new insanely rambunctious kitten. Her name is Clementine. Unfortunately, our house wasn’t kitten-proofed prior to her arrival so there was a lot of damage done to my ancestor altar and plants. C’est la vie!

At any rate, I’ve returned and am trying to get back in the groove, so to speak.

Oh, also, if you’ve sent me an email via this site in the last few months, you’re going to need to resend it to me. I was having issues with my email. I’ve since resolved the issue.

Associate of Science degree in Network Systems Administration

Back in June of 2013, a month after we’d been married, I’d discovered my 29 year old husband had been sitting on a scholarship fund, doing nothing with it. It would expire and the money would “disappear” (I think it would be returned to the scholarship organization from whence it originated) once he turned 30. At the time my husband Chris didn’t really have a game plan. He wanted to go back to school, but he wasn’t sure what direction to take it.

Because the scholarship was less than a year from disappearing I suggested he look at a vocational school rather than going the traditional jr college to a 4 year school route. Time was something we didn’t have a lot of and I knew that he could get stuck in a 2 year school struggling to get the last required class because of a lack of availability. He decided to pursue a degree in IT and researched several different schools. I spoke with a close friend who worked HR management for an engineering firm. Since she dealt with a lot of people looking for work I wanted her opinion on which vocational schools were taken seriously in her industry. ITT Tech was the stand out of the options Chris was looking at.

He decided to sign up with them and had a two fold goal. First goal was to obtain an AA in IT then go on to a BA in Cyber Security.

My husband flourishes in an educational environment, he absorbs the information and then soars with it. When we first began dating I was far more computer savvy than him. He understood basic office programs, but he had no experience with programming or dealing with hardware or virus issues. Now, he’s so much more educated on computer systems. I’ll sit in awe listening to him break down a computer issue and figure out the best way to fix it.

He started classes almost immediately after signing up with ITT. Every day he’d come home from school and beam about the new info he was learning. He loved school and it showed.

He just finished his AA program. Tuesday he walked in his cap and gown for his Associate of Science degree in Network Systems Administration. We arrived and he was immediately ushered inside the theatre to get instructions on how the ceremony would proceed. As I stood outside, waiting to go in with the rest of the families, and looking for both of our parents, I noticed a girl with her cap and gown as well as a cord and a Salutatorian stole. I knew Chris had a 4.0 grade point and I wondered why he didn’t have at least a cord.

Chris Williams -  Valedictorian - Associate of Science degree in Network System Administration from ITT Tech
Chris Williams – Valedictorian – Associate of Science degree in Network System Administration from ITT Tech.

 

Right about then Chris sent me a text, “So, apparently valedictorian is a thing!”

To which I replied, “uh… yeah?” I thought he was commenting on seeing someone’s stole.

Chris responded with, “Yup, Cause I’m wearing the thingy that says so. Lol”

I was so excited for him I almost screamed, which would’ve been slightly awkward since no one knew me there nor what was being discussed. I did, however, audibly squeal. Luckily, no one seemed to notice.

I was thinking back to high school when you knew who valedictorian was well before the graduation ceremony. We, however, learned minutes before his graduation. His mother learned by reading the program before she found me. Either way it was a very pleasant surprise!

He only had a week between finishing with his AA program and continuing on to his BA program. In order to be present at graduation he was given an excused absence from his Risk Management class that night. I’m extremely proud of my husband. He works very hard, sometimes 6 days a week, plus he goes to school full time at night. He’s very dedicated to his school work and I’m very glad to see he was recognized for it.

Now in all of this excitement, the only decent photo I got of Chris is the one above. He was walking with his class to the front to be seated and couldn’t stop as there was a line of other students directly behind him.

I did take a couple of videos of various points during the ceremonies. One shows all the valedictorians of each class.  This is the shortest, and to me, the most important. It shows my husband walking to receive his well earned degree.

Good job, babe!

Siblings Day

As a child this is a holiday I never thought I’d be able to celebrate. I was adopted at birth and an only child for the first 25 years of my life, but now I’m the second oldest of 5 on my birth mother’s side and the eldest of 2 on my birth father’s side. Not to mention all the “adopted” siblings I have in my life.

 

Maternal Siblings

The only time the 4 of us have been together. (L-R) My older sister Betty, younger brother Gene, birth mother KC, youngest sister Gloria, and me. 1999
The only time the 4 of us have been together.
(L-R) My older sister Betty, younger brother Gene, birth mother KC, youngest sister Gloria, and me. 1999

Unfortunately, none of us were raised together. We all have different father’s and did not get the opportunity to grow up together. Also, we all live in different states. As such, it should be no surprise there’s only been one time in all of our lives that 4 of the 5 siblings have ever all been together at one time. Luckily, we have photographic evidence to prove it actually happened. Some day we hope to find our youngest brother, Michael, who was put in foster care at 6 and adopted at age 8.

 

Paternal Siblings

With my younger sister, Rebecca (on the left)
With my younger sister, Rebecca (on the left)

In 2014 I had the incredible luck, and I believe guided help by my birth father on the other side, of finding my younger sister and my birth father’s family. I had been searching for 19 years for them and with an incredible good fortune I was able to make contact within a matter of hours after my birth father’s cousin’s wife added me on Facebook because I’d sent them a letter the week before. It’s an incredible tale, actually, and one I’ll post about on another day, but after a real roller coaster of emotions filled day I was talking with my younger sister who also never knew I existed until that day.

A week after our wedding, my husband Chris and I had plans to go to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding. Turns out my sister lives in Las Vegas as well, so we made plans to meet while we were in town. To finally meet her brought an incredible amount of closure while also opening up so much more to my life story than I ever knew possible.

 

In-Law Sibling

2014-05-03-Yvonne-%26-Chris%27-Wed-3268614612-O
Michael kissing me after giving his best man speech at our wedding last year. 2014

My baby brother Michael, not to be confused with my birth brother Michael who is also my youngest brother. I call Michael Williams my “baby brother” because he is the youngest of all my brothers though he’s actually my husband’s older brother. I adore him greatly and am quite glad to have him in my life.

 

Adopted Siblings

Me and Bryce 1974
Me and Bryce 1974

Brother from Another Mother

Bryce is a boy who lived two doors down from me. We’re just under 4 months apart in age, and up until our junior year of high school, we were always in the same school. He’s the closest experience I have to understanding what it’s like to grow up with a sibling.
Throughout our childhood we did a great many things together and spent most of our summers in swim classes and hanging out together. One time, during summer break between 4th and 5th grade, I remember he got friends from the next neighborhood to help organize a cross neighborhood rubber band war. Bryce’s house was our fort and our friend Brian’s house was the other team’s fort. We weren’t the kind of kids who got into trouble, we were nerds.

Williams Wedding 2014
Williams Wedding 2014 – (L-R) Seth, Angel, Jeff, Donnie, Michael, Chris, Me, Heather, Teresa, Hilda, Gloria, Kate, Michelle, and Lisa.

Wedding Party

With the obvious exception of my husband (we’re not hillbillies, yo!)  every person in our bridal party were asked because we are very close with them, and to us they are our siblings, by blood or not.

 

In Memoriam

Me and Jim spending new years day at Venice Beach. 1996
Me and Jim spending new years day at Venice Beach. 1996

I met Jim during one of the hardest years of my life. We became very close friends pretty fast, I learned a great many things from him, and eventually we considered one another family. I remember one time, after he had a particularly long conversation with my dad, he told me he regretted not having met my mom (she passed the year I met him). He lived in LA for most of the time I knew him, but for a short while he lived with us in the year before he died in 1996. I will always miss him.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today would’ve been my mother’s 77th birthday.

My mother, Nole, was an amazing and strong individual with a lot of heart, and drive. She was an awesome cook, an incredibly talented artist and crafter, had a goofy sense of humour, and was very generous to those she cared about. She survived the annihilation of her village in the Philippines by the Japanese in WWII, as well as a sexist, patriarchal, and sometimes abusive life in PI.

She came to America to wed my father in 1961 in Alabama, when it was still illegal to have an interracial marriage, but they were married by a judge and then later in a Catholic church. My mother became a US citizen and then eventually helped bring her parents and siblings to the states in the 1970s. She went to college to become a cosmetologist and worked the last 13 years of her life at a salon in JC Penny’s. The money she made was often sent back home to help her deceased brother’s children go to school.

She was diagnosed with cancer the first time in 1972, shortly after her brother passed away. She was diagnosed with cancer again in 1974 and survived both instances. In 1987 she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. She fought hard and survived for 4 years, but she passed away on June 13, 1991.

My mom was an incredible person. I love her and miss her so very much every single day.