Out in the Open

'I'll tell you someday': A daughter discovers her dad's long-lost son

Beckie Evans had a happy childhood, but always wondered why her dad kept a photo of a blond-haired boy on his dresser.

Beckie Evans had a happy childhood, but wondered why her dad kept a photo of a blond-haired boy on his dresser

The picture Beckie Evans' father kept on his dresser. (Submitted by Beckie Evans)

This story was originally published on August 24, 2018.

Growing up, Beckie Evans felt a mystery lingering in her happy home.

Her father Albert kept a photo on his dresser of a small boy with blond, curly hair. But when Evans would ask about it, her mom wouldn't give her an answer.

"She said, 'Well, I'll tell you someday,' and that was the end of the conversation," she told Out in the Open host Piya Chattopadhyay.

It wasn't until Evans was about 18 that she finally learned the truth at a family picnic. 

Her aunts showed Evans a photo of a young man who she instantly recognized as the boy in the photo.

"They asked me if I knew about him, and I said, 'Well, I've kind of heard bits and pieces, but I'm not really sure,'" she said.

Evans's aunts revealed that the man in the photo was her half brother, named Dennis.

Before he had married her mom, Evans's dad fought in the Second World War and married a woman he met in England. They had a son together and moved to Canada. But when Dennis was six-years-old, his mom took him back to England. Evans's dad hadn't seen his son since.

Evans's aunts asked if she wanted to get in touch with her long-lost half brother.

"I actually said no, because I felt like I was going to be digging into private things about my parents that they didn't want me to, and I felt bad about that," she said.

So Evans said nothing. "I kind of let it go."

Decades went by. And then, one winter, a letter arrived at the family church, addressed to Evans's father. 

The letter was from Dennis, trying to make contact. But Evans's mom wrote back saying it was a bad time because her husband was sick. 

But Evans decided she didn't want to miss out on another opportunity to learn about her brother. So she got his contact information and started sending letters.

Albert and his son, Dennis. (Submitted by Beckie Evans)

Finally, a meeting was arranged. 

"My dad, when he found out that Dennis was coming, he had a bit of a change of heart, and agreed to to meet him."

Evans's family greeted Dennis at the airport.

"It was just like looking at a miniature version of my dad," Evans said of meeting her brother. "He's shorter than my dad, but he has curly hair and he was very much had my dad's personality."

Evans said she wishes her dad could have met Dennis sooner. 

"I feel a little bit sad about it because at that point my dad wasn't the same dad that I had growing up because of his Alzheimer's."

But Evans said she still felt it was healing for her dad to finally see his son, and also for her mom.

"I think they made peace with it."

Despite all the years that went by not knowing she had a brother, Evans doesn't blame her parents for keeping it a secret.

"Maybe if I was 25 when all this transpired I'd feel a bit more angry about how it transpired, but I'm just like, let's move on and respect people for the reasons and choices they made, because I didn't live in their shoes."

This story appears in the Out in the Open episode "The Secret Lives of Parents".



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