So, here we are, my first post. Let me just dive right in…
I was born in San Diego, Ca in August of 1991. Growing up, I had a great childhood a loving mom, a caring dad and a few years later, I even got a little sister, Sierra. We would go to Sea World every Saturday, go hunting with my grandpa bear, take the boat out tubing, and bbq! Everyone who knew us, knew my dad was ALWAYS bbqing and he made a mean steak! All in all it was a pretty standard childhood, we had fun, we got in trouble, were a little sassy, and got ass whooping’s. I’d like to point out any spanking I received was probably my sisters fault, she was the captain of the sassy club as kids and always refused to go to bed when it was time. So, we both paid the price. Everything was great, and then my parents filed for divorced.
Here I am at 13 years old, living with a single mom, a little sister and now I have a baby brother as well, David. We were all trying to make the best of the situation we were dealt and had an outing to Sea World planned with Mom, Dad and our grandparents who were in town visiting. So, I’m sitting on the floor, mom begins to braid my hair, as she’s also arguing with my dad who has just showed up to pick us all up. Me, having the big mouth that I have decides I’m going to join the argument and take my dads side (I always took dads side). Mom yanks my braid a little tighter forcing my head to turn towards her and she looks me in the eye and says, “I don’t know why you always take his side, he’s not even your real dad!”
Excuse me, wait, what? Did I hear her right? How can this be? Everyone tells me how much I look like my dad, I mean sure, I’m 5’11 and everyone around me is short but how is this possible? EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE knew and had kept this secret for 13 years. Turns out, I actually didn’t even meet my dad (Brian) until I was 2.5 years old. WHO IS MY FATHER? WHO AM I?
Fast forward 12 years, I continued to live my life, I graduated college, moved to Los Angeles, found my handsome honey bun and a few puppies to make our little family whole. After all these years, the thought of who am I? and who is my father? Was a constant thought. I began to have all these allergies to things even things doctors couldn’t quite figure out, but my mom has no allergies so clearly I’ve picked this up from my father’s side. So, I was determined to find out my other half, what am I? I was told I was German Irish and Scottish along with half Mexican but now, all I knew was that I was half Mexican.
So, here is what I know, my biological fathers name is David (yes, I know same name as my brother, AWKWARD), My mother met my biological father in Tijuana in November of 1990. To my knowledge they spent about a week together, and never saw each other again. During that week I was conceived. Being the early 90’s there was no easy way for my mother to find David again. Meaning he likely had no idea he had a daughter. My mother is trying to be as helpful as she can with the details she can remember from 1990 but let’s be real that was 25 years ago… My mom says, David was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, he’s tall and handsome, had an African American best friend with him and they drove some type of Jeep like vehicle. As you can see there’s not much to go on.
Skipping ahead to December 2016… honey bun surprises me with a DNA test for Christmas. He purchased the test from 23andMe, which includes everything from ancestry reports, genetic traits, and health risks. I cried, I really did. I was so thankful and excited to finally find out more about myself, and see who I really am. For all these years I only knew of the health risks and traits from my mom’s side. I had a huge, gaping hole of mystery from my bio dad’s side. To finally learn more about that side of myself was truly exhilarating. The next day I woke up early, spit in the test tube with a fresh blob of morning saliva rich with my DNA, and sent it to the lab. And then we wait…. And wait…. And wait.
After what seemed like forevvverrrr (which in actuality was only a few weeks) my results came in! So much information, so much data, so much to learn! I’m 72.2% European! I’m 16.9% Native American! I’m only 1% redhead (phew!). My earwax is wet! Wait…what?? Aside from all the very interesting and useful ancestry and health reports, there are also trait reports that tell me things I never even wondered. 74% more likely to have detached earlobes! Cool, right?! RIGHT??!?
Anyways, after a few hours of reading about myself, I stumbled upon the DNA Relatives section… It listed almost 1200 people I have never heard of, saying we shared 0.05% similar DNA… OK…? But then I saw my closest match. 2.58% shared DNA with Mariah… 2.58%?? That’s like one pepperoni on a family sized pizza. Still, I was optimistic. I sent Mariah a message and hoped for the best. I told her I was looking for my biological father, and gave her the few details I had. And then I waited…. And then, she REPLIED! She couldn’t have been nicer and was so excited to help. She got started right away, asking her relatives if they had any David’s in the family. And they did. Asking if this David was a Marine. And he was. Asking if this Marine was stationed at Camp Pendleton in the early 90’s…. Was this really happening? It was. And just like that, we had a full name. David Galloway.
David Galloway! Being the young, hip millennials we are, we got to work using all the resources we had; the Internet. Honey Bun and I spent an entire Saturday morning on the couch trying to find anything and everything we could. Searching Google, and Facebook, and Wiki, and MySpace… We were really getting somewhere. We found pictures, we found friends, we found relatives! We found him, we found my biological father! And then we found out…. He had passed away.
It was him. We found my father. My mom confirmed it from a picture we sent. Everything added up exactly as it should have; the name, the face, the employer, the station, the age. And after all that, after finally finding him, he’s dead? Mariah confirmed it a few minutes later. He was a Marine. One of the best of the best. 1st Force Recon. A real badass. And handsome, just like my mom said. We read article after article about him and his team. Article after article describing the training mission on December 9th, 1999. The training mission that took the lives of seven soldiers, including his own.
He was in a helicopter, on a joint training mission with the Navy Seals. The helicopter was supposed to come in over a ship, and he and his crew were supposed to fast-rope onto the deck. The helicopter came in a bit too fast, and too low. It was tangled in some rope around the deck and ultimately flipped upside down, being pulled into the ocean by the spinning blades. Eleven men made it out. Seven others did not. It was on the news, even my mom remembers hearing about the crash. Everyone I tell remembers hearing about it. It only happened a short drive from where I grew up, and people still remember it happening 15 years later.
He was gone. I never had the chance to meet him. He’d never had the chance to meet me. But there was still so much to learn. From our searches we found his family in Oregon. We found his sisters, we found his nephew’s, we found his widow and ex-wife, and we found his sons. His sons?! I have more brothers! While I was sad he was gone, I was so excited to know there was still a way to learn about him and his immediate family. What was the next step? Well, I made Honey Bun write a letter to David’s sister (Darcy) and we sent it on Facebook.
More waiting. More anxiety. I was so stressed, and my palms were so sweaty. And then she wrote back, obviously a bit skeptical and cautious. A stranger from the internet is messaging you about you deceased brother? Saying she thinks that’s her father? Yeah, I’d be a bit reserved too. As we messaged back and forth, I further explained the situation, and everything was becoming more clear. I mentioned that David had an African American best friend, and that’s when Darcy knew something was up. She said she thinks she knew who that was, so she called Don. It had been years since they last spoke, and this was an opportunity for them to reconnect and remember their friend and brother. Don said he remembered. He remembered everything. He wanted to talk to my mom. We set up a call, my mom on one end, Don on the other. I listened, as they talked, apprehensive at first, but they slowly opened up. Through the tears they both reminisced about that week they spent together. Details only they would know. What club they met at and what songs were playing. Driving across the border in Don’s Suzuki Samurai (looks a lot like a Jeep). I cried as they talked. This was real, and we all knew it.
My mom was convinced, as were Don and Darcy, and I knew in my heart this was what I’d been waiting all these years for. With David no longer with us, there was only one way to be 100% sure I was his daughter. Darcy and I did a DNA test, comparing my DNA to hers. More spitting in tubes, a few more weeks of waiting, and those results came in; 93.7% DNA match. Darcy is 100% my aunt. Her son’s are my cousins. And David Galloway is my Father.
A few weeks later I tagged along with Honey Bun to Portland, Oregon on a business trip. We met up with Darcy and her boys (Camerson and Stetson), and Mariah. None of this would be possible without her. She was willing to help a stranger based on a 2.58% DNA match and I can’t thank her enough. I talk to my new family everyday, and over the past few months have learned so much about David. I miss him, but I am so thankful for his family and friends. They have nothing but great things to say about him, and I am proud to be his daughter. I am proud to be The Galloway Girl.