Orphan Survival Stories Index |
IT'S JUST ME "ROGER"
"Yes," I said.
"My name is Frank Kiser and I am calling from Coosbay, Oregon and I hear that you have been searching for Mr. James Layton Kiser. Is that correct?"
"Yes," I replied very cautiously.
"Well, he is my brother and I have a phone number for you to call to contact him, and he is waiting there now if you wish to telephone him," he said.
I wrote the number down, hung up the telephone and looked at my wife.
"Your face is white as a sheet," she said.
"You are not going to believe this. It was some guy named Frank Kiser, who said that he knew who and where my father is and he gave me the phone number."
I had never known who my father was. All I ever knew was the name ‘James Layton Kiser.’ Just some strange name, type written on my birth certificate.
I slowly picked up the phone and dialed the number. I just stared at the blank wall with my mind racing around in a never-ending circle. I do not even think my eyes blinked one time, because I was so nervous waiting for the telephone to ring at the other end. I know that my heart was racing so badly that I could feel it beating in my throat, so I took my left hand and held my neck as tight as I could. Finally, someone answered with a, "Hello."
”Is this James Layton Kiser,” I asked.
"Yes it is," he said.
There was total silence for about 30 seconds. Then we spoke with one another for about half an hour and told each other a little bit about our lives, and what had happened to us over the past 20 years. He asked about my mother and I told him I really did not know much of anything about her. We finally said goodbye and I hung up the telephone.
I walked slowly back to the dining room table and sat down. I was totally numb from head to toe. I cannot say that I was excited, but I was glad that I had finally heard the voice of my father for the first time in my life. At last, I knew that I had come from someone and from somewhere, and that was important to me as a person.
The dinner was good and went rather well, but it was a quiet meal. Not much talking at all. My mind was already working to see how I could drive the 800 or so miles to see what he looked like and to have him put his arm around my shoulder or maybe have a drink together. After all, I was a man now and I could buy my dad a drink.
About 30 minutes later, I was helping with the dishes and my wife (now ex-wife) was putting away her famous Thanksgiving Day dressing, the one that almost choked her dad to death one year, when the phone rang again. I dried my hands and picked up the telephone.
"Hello," I said.
"Roger, this is Frank Kiser again and I am just checking to see if you and James had a good long talk."
"Yes sir, we did," I replied.
"Well, I just thought it was important that he tell you that he was not your father - that he had been out of the country, in the military service for more than 18 months when you were born, so there is no way that he could be your father, and I thought you should know that."
I just about fell to the floor, I was so shocked and so embarrassed that I did not know what to say, so I just talked and acted like I knew what he was talking about, but inside I was dying all over again.
Several months later, I got up enough nerve to phone my mother, who now owned Hut's Garage in Cedartown, Georgia and I point blank asked her whom my father was. She told me it was written on my birth certificate and that the name was James Layton Kiser. I told her that I had tracked down James Layton Kiser and he was not my father - he had been out of the country for more than 18 months when I was born, so there was no way he could be my father. I asked her if there was any way that William George Lavender could possibly be my father. She told me there was no way, as I was a year or so old when she met him. I then asked her who my father could be and that I really wanted to know the truth.
She said, "Just how in the hell am I supposed to know everything," and slammed the phone down.
All I know for sure to this day at age 53 is that my name is Roger and I will die one day never knowing what my last name was. I look at my three sons and my daughter, and I do not know what their real last names are. I will hold my granddaughter this weekend and all I know for sure is that her name is Chelsey.
I guess I will have the name "ROGER" engraved on my tombstone. It was not just the child abuse in the orphanage that has affected my life. It is going through my entire life never knowing the answers to any of the questions - like knowing my real name, where I came from or whom I came from.
It has been very difficult living with only half of myself and I am not speaking about not having a last name. I do not mind the world knowing me as Roger, but it is I, my own self, who would like to know me as more than just "ROGER."