Being born out of wedlock makes me what?

I was born out of wedlock.

That kind of makes me a bastard.

Some have called me that and I guess they knew more about my life than I ever did.

I learned of the infamous fact after signing up for Ancestry.com and got the history of my parents. Mom was born in New Jersey and dad in Greece. I had assumed they were married when I was born because my pop – of the Greek Orthodox faith – swore on a stack of Bibles to raise me Catholic. The priest at the German parish in North Philadelphia would not perform the wedding until he capitulated.

——————

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Being Born out of Wedlock Blues

Well, that was some time after I was born. Try a full year after the moment that I was born!

I had no idea of my birth status until learning that  I was conceived in an illicit affair.

Not only that, but my two older brothers were also bastards. My parents  hadn’t tied the knot until the baby of the family was about to speak and walk on God’s green earth.

—————

 I thought it would shock me more than it did. I mean, I was raised Catholic and knew of the sins of the flesh. Most guys routinely violated that commandment when growing up .

But “living in sin” was something entirely different. My own parents of whom I was raised to respect and see as godly had not been married at the time of my conception.

 I was formed in an unholy union.

Never mind that I lived with my second wife for several months before we were married. Or that I married my first wife only after my mother refused to let the girlfriend I brought to Philadelphia from Louisiana sleep under her roof until we were hitched. That was me, a child growing up in the Rebellious 1960s.

I’m talking about my parents though. They were supposed to  better than me, weren’t they? I looked up to them and now I see that they were as human as I was. As human as my son who is about to become a father with a woman with whom he is not married.

————–

Somehow I don’t feel so bad looking at the whole “born out of wedlock” thing now. We did what came naturally after falling in love. It is as true today as it was in the days of the unwed parents of that old Christian Bible Adam and Eve.

 

9 comments on “Being born out of wedlock makes me what?

  1. Carol says:

    Hum…I too am a “bastard-ette”. A one time “thing”…adopted at 3 days old, a private one and what a story. Found my birth mother, keep in contact with her (and my half siblings) until she crossed over. Bio father, never knew about me, he had left town when she found out she was pregnant. She never told her family either (except for 1 sister).Oh and he was a married man. Fast forward 60 years. I got a message from 23 and me…yep half sister. To make this very long story short….in my adopted family, I was raised an only child. My dad had a daughter from a previous marriage, so that makes me the youngest. Bio mom, had 3 children, that makes me the oldest, bio dad, had 15 ( that we know of), I’m the 5th…speaking of bio dad. Married 4 or 5 times and lots of “affairs”…there are 3 of us (out of wedlock) who are born within months of the in wedlock ones! As for me, I have a half brother, who was born 2 days before me…lol..unfortunately. bio dad passed away on April of this year, only a few months before I was “found”…

    • contoveros says:

      Dear Carol,

      How you can keep up with all your siblings is beyond me. How one man can account for so many children is also mind-blowing. And to be able to place your order of birth in connection with your new loving parents is remarkable. You have a helluva story to tell and I hope you can share it with many others.

      It’s amazing how our life seems so ordinary until we start to look into the richness and uniqueness there actually exists. It’s like finding gold in a mine or uncovering parts of a bone from the prehistoric era. We find so much about ourselves and our world if we but open ourselves to the often hidden bits and pieces.

      I could see you appearing on the old television show “This is Your Life” as all of your biological and adopted family members crowd onto the stage to share stories with the audience. It would take at least three hours to hear them all and I’m willing to bet there’d be so many interesting things to listen to.

      I hope you can continue to write about these things and keep us “out-of-wedlock” folks informed of your experiences. I look forward to hearing from you . . .

      Michael J

  2. Ed Cunningham says:

    I think one of the best explanations of all this was from a man I met in Italy. We are sitting next to each other at a bar and began a conversation. I tried my very bad Italian and he rescued me with is infinitely superior English. I don’t remember the context in which he said this (this was 9 years ago). The statement was, “I admire and respect my grandmother, and I have no idea what she did in her youth. And no matter what she did, I would still admire and respect her for the life that I saw her lead.”

    • contoveros says:

      Grandmothers can do that to you whether you’re Italian, Greek or a son-of-a-gun named Cunningham. I think of my grandmother whenever I envision unconditional love and I can see how that man you met in Italy could sum up true wisdom.

      “Admire ad respect them for the life you saw them lead!”

  3. contoveros says:

    The following comments were offered on Facebook:

    Calliope Contoveros
    You were born of love….agape my smart, handsome cousin… ❤️
    Contoveros:
    Aw shucks. I believe you say that to all your Greek cousins!

    Elliott Robertson
    You have something in common with Jesus. (See Bishop Spong.)
    Contoveros
    Holy Mackerel. I never thought about that. He too was conceived “out of wedlock.”
    I love you Elliott. You just made my day.

    Eric Haffner
    You determine who you are. Your parents gave you a chance…
    Contoveros:
    I got a good chance at life. I am thankful that my parents got together to help make me a life. Thanks Eric, my old high school buddy!

    Eric Haffner
    Good to see you around!

    Howard Brown
    Your parents may have been married in a Civil ceremony. St Francis Xavier has the records of St Ludwig. They charge for research.

    Frances Eberwine Holod
    Need to check that out.
    Contoveros:
    Yeah, I’ll check it out the next time I see someone from the old neighborhood at my nearby garden and hardware shop — Does Holod’s come to mind?

    Howard Brown
    Had a similar situation for a relative. St Francis would only confirm that a Marriage occurred, but would not give the date of the ceremony.
    Contoveros:
    Howard,
    All I can say is “Holy Crapoli!”…

    Fred Tomasello Jr.
    OK. Now we got that out of the way, please carry on.
    Contoveros:
    I don’t know about the Marine Corps, but drill sergeants in the US Army knew a lot about my parentage and I guess that is why they called me what they did . . . Throw in a few “F” bombs and I’d feel right at home. Now I can carry on!

    Fred Tomasello Jr.
    The Marine Corps always questioned the legitimacy of our ancestry but welcomed us anyway. “F” bombs galore!

    William Yeck
    (Friends with Eric Haffner)
    Hello from Bill Y.
    Contoveros:
    Good to hear from you. Do you know anyone who might fit this category? I seem to recall quite a few old bastards from the some of the old neighborhoods in North Philadelphia.

    Jessie Mckinnon
    No big deal. I, too, born out of wedlock, though parents did marry when I was 6 mos. old.
    Contoveros:
    Jessie,
    I wonder when you found out about your status…

    Tamara Ambros
    I too was born out of wedlock. Only difference, never knew my father.
    Contoveros:
    Wow!
    I guess it was contagious.
    My son, Nick Contos Petrilli, never knew his biological father either. We got him at an adoption yard sale in Cleveland.

    Only kidding. We met the birth mother we have had contact with her ever since.

    We never did meet the father who kind of thought that we were trying to get money from him when we tried to contact him to learn of his health background.
    Ain’t life grand?

    Tamara Ambros
    The man who fathered me was in the same DP Camp with my mother waiting to immigrate to Belgium. My mother waiting for USA. He got his official immigration papers and left for Belgium the day after my conception. Probably never knew he had a daughter. Oh well!
    Contoveros:
    That is an incredible story. Something that you would read in a book of fiction but is truly non-fiction.
    Tamara Ambros
    Yes another book in the making if I ever find the time . . .

    Nick Contos Petrilli
    Dad, you never told me that…
    Contoveros:
    Yeah, well one of the persons involved with your adoption had tried to contact your biological father. The person spoke with the man’s father and got the impression that the man didn’t want to have anything to do with them.
    I believe that the young man — a former security guard I seem to recall — thought that someone was trying to get money from him for your support. All we wanted to know was something about his health background so that we could pass it on to whatever doctors would eventually treat you.
    It didn’t really matter. We learned later that you got all of your insanity from living with yours truly!
    — Your favorite dad

    Andrea Hornett
    Michael, this doesn’t make any sense to me. Your parents were in a “common law marriage.” Don’t have to exchange vows in a church to make it a marriage in the eyes of the law.
    Contoveros:
    Damn, you sound like a lawyer. I never looked at it that way.
    Common law marriage. That’s exactly what it was!
    Thanks Andie

  4. wolfshades says:

    Seems to me your parents avoided a world of trouble by proceeding as they did. Today it has become the norm – well, normal for a lot of people, but not all – to live together “in sin” before tying the knot. I think Amy has a point: there’s a reason for all of the rituals that go beyond the mere quaintness of the customs. I’ve had my eyes open to The Machine for many years now, and am constantly surprised at how pervasive in our societal behaviours its demands have become.

    Despite not being married, your parents have managed to raise a very interesting and provocative son who somehow raises the consciousness of his readers, his union brethren and his fellow court participants – though not always resulting in the conclusion he may have wanted. : )

    Kudos to them! Wish I would have followed their example in my own life. I now know, in perfect 20-20 vision some of the enormous pitfalls I could have avoided had I done so.

    Also, like yourself, I’m now intrigued by the notion of Lectio Divina. I am no longer a fan of Paul. I think much of his writings are steeped in the religious upbringing he had, quite apart from his conversion to Christianity, and as such still retains a lot of ridiculous nonsense – mostly having to do with the role of women in society and family. Paul was most assuredly NOT a feminist, nor was he anything even approaching that. And so I’m especially curious about how Lectio Divina approaches his writings.

    • contoveros says:

      It’s shocking at first. To learn your own parents weren’t what you thought they were when they were your own age.

      But I can see that they were pioneers of sorts. They disregarded the norms of the day and lived life without the demands society tried to impose on them. They were “avant garde” so to speak!

      Hell, didn’t the artists and musicians of old flaunt the mores? Didn’t they carve out lives with more purpose and meaning than what the church wanted them to adhere to?

      My father would never have left his Greek island at the age of 15 to come to America had he not walked to the beat of a different bouzouki. My mom was the first of nine children to graduate from high school and then took off from the Jersey farm to see the sights of old New York. My parents met at the World’s Fair in the late 1930s and carved out a path none of their siblings even dared to contemplate.

      I guess they instilled in me a good disrespect for authority and a love of adventure that you mention Wolf. I got their genes and that has helped me to become the person I am today.

      Not to shabby and still interested enough about life to learn a helluva lot more about this Lectio Divina stuff you guys from up North of the US talk about so freely. Thank you Wolf and Amy!

  5. souldipper says:

    In my studies of Theology (I wanted to understand the Bible with objectivity and fact so I could make my own decisions) I repeatedly saw how law/scripture/canons such as “Holy Sacraments” were man-made and designed to control the population. Marriage was a way to keep people domesticated, tamed, more easily managed. It helped to guarantee procreation with a better degree of certainty and order.

    Consider the Ten Commandments – carved in stone. Like other biblical records, language was ever updated – the “holy word” was an oral tradition for centuries. Even when scriptures began to be recorded, the interpretation was still passed on orally and translated into convenient vernacular. Then they made up rules to solve problems; like eat fish on Fridays for health reasons.

    Well, scholars still work on interpretations today…and still disagree.

    Ironic that a group of little Grey Nuns taught me Lectio Divina – how to meditate on bible passages in such a way that one verse comes alive. Amazing the clarity that is provided and answers all sorts of questions. “In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.”

    What a world of difference it makes to the understanding of iron clad, fettering laws that man set up to manage the masses.

    No wonder I love the mystical aspects of belief systems. It takes us to the freedom intended for us in the first place – that was manipulated out of our lives.

    We can love the Creator, our great Teachers and get on with Love, Forgiveness (to ourselves too) and Service in everyday life without dumbing down and burying our incredible abilities contained in our Higher Consciousness.

    Well, there’s Amy’s little sermon on the rock for today! 😀 ❤

    • contoveros says:

      Sweet little Amy has my heart a flutter. I hope to learn more about this so-called “Divine Reading.” I think I might just be open to it nowadays. I can see with a much clearer vision and add in a smidgen of wisdom from some really good people like you.

      Thanks. I will meditate on it now!

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