I was about nine years old when I noticed that I had blue eyes like Mom and Dad, while my two younger sisters had hazel eyes. Thus began my on-again/off-again search for the truth to this mystery. Eventually, I learned that James S. McDowell (1927-2012) was my birth father. This hazel-eyed man left 4-year-old me, my 2-year-old sister, and my pregnant mother on Christmas Eve 1951; however, I remembered him not at all. My young brain blocked out all memories before I was five, when, luckily, Dad married Mom and adopted us three girls. They proceeded to fill our family with two more girls and our baby brother, giving us an exciting, never-dull childhood.
Throughout my life, I learned that McDowell went on to father and abandon six more children by two other wives. In the mid-90s, I decided to contact him in order to discover some medical history. For some reason, my uncle’s wife had kept up with him and let him know what was going on with his first children, though why he cared is beyond me. She gave me his address and I wrote a note to which he quickly responded. Diabetes was the main culprit in his family history. His mother died from it, and so did he. His sister died from uterine cancer. Good to know.
After a couple years, we spoke on the phone. A stranger’s voice that meant nothing to me. Besides health issues, he told me about my half-siblings, one of whom I started talking with a few months later. She was/is amazing and sweet.
In 2001, my husband and I met McDowell (Mac) and most of this Kentucky/Indiana family. I never warmed up to Mac, but I instantly loved my new found siblings. We have visited several times and try to keep up with each other’s birthdays.
Two summers ago, a new half-brother in California contacted one of my Kentucky brothers. His mother had not been married to Mac when he was born, which was a few months before Mac’s third wife’s fifth child. Needless to point out, our birth father appears to have been a sexaholic cad, like his own father. However, all of his offspring are very kind and warm-hearted. So we are blessed.
I expect I am the eldest of his progeny only because Mac and Mom married in 1945, when they were eighteen and seventeen respectfully. On the other hand, the ten of us are in complete accord that the likelihood of more half-siblings is quite high. That is the reason I am writing this post – to reach out to others who may not know about the rest of us. Perhaps someone or their mother will recognize these photos of Jimmy McDowell.
After WWII, he became a traveling salesman for Southland Electrical Supply in Louisville. His territory included Indiana and Kentucky, perhaps Ohio too. He lived in Jeffersonville, IN and Louisville, KY. His hobby was fixing old radios. Sound familiar?