Elderly man finds son after discovering letter hidden by deceased wife for 60 years

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Grand Rapids, MI (WXMI) -- An 81-year-old Grand Rapids man has found out that he has a son.

The man had tried having kids all his life but thought it was a life goal he never accomplished.

But a letter sent by the child's mother more than 50 years ago told him of his then 5-year-old son. That man is now 61.

It was a message believed to have been hidden by his wife for decades.

Tony Trapani, 81, said that after his wife passed away, he was cleaning out one of her old filing cabinets when he came across the letter.

Father and son only met for the first time Sunday, and Trapani said he feels like a new dad.

Samuel Childress, meeting he father for the first time, said he spend his life wondering. "I always asked my mom, I said, 'Well what does he look like?' She said, 'Well, go look in the mirror.'"

The letter sent by Samuel's mother back in 1959 is postage stamped on that date.

"I have a little boy," it reads. "He is five years old now. What I'm trying to say Tony is he is your son. He was born November 14th, 1953."

Childress' mother told him that she had sent the letter but figured his father was ignoring him, he said.

Here's where the story takes a drastic turn. Trapani claims that his wife at the time intercepted the letter and hid it in a filing cabinet for decades while the couple couldn't conceive a child on their own.

"Why my wife didn't tell me," said Trapani. "I don't know. She wanted children. She couldn't have any. She tried and tried. He's my full son that I've had my whole life, but why my wife hid that letter is beyond me."

Growing up, Childress said, it was his understanding that his father got the letter but didn't want anything to do with him. He grew up in Pennsylvania, with meeting his father was just a distant thought.

"Just to know him now is so important to me. It's going to fill that void," he said.

Father and son are now catching up on a lifetime of memories, making the most out of the time they have left, knowing they can't go back in time or dwell on the secret that kept them apart for so long,

The family is also planning to have a paternity test done just to be 100 percent sure.


    • Phil

      This is a new thing that fox6 is doing in cooperatiin with the government. If you can “decode” and read the story, then you’ll be selected to join the US’ s new Enigma codebreaker team!

  • Suz

    good human interest story, terrible editing. Had to stumble my way through so many writing flaws that it took away from the story.

  • Sara

    This has got to be one of the most poorly written stories I’ve ever read. Such a beautiful thing for them that is cheapened by choppy sentences and misspellings.

  • Stephanie C.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the wife didn’t tell him probably because she was so devastated that she couldn’t give him a child of her own that it made her jealous that some other woman somewhere had his child.

  • Debra

    Thats an easy one to figure out why she hid that letter. She was terrified if she couldn’t produce a child with Tony, and he found out he had a child with this other woman, that he might leave her for the other woman. Simple deduction Sherlock :)

    • What!

      My guess is money, she probably thought she would outlive him and get the insurance and/or the estate and didn’t want to share with the son.

  • Karin

    Sad and happy story at the same time, but gotta agree with other posters, the editing of the story is poor. Did anyone notice that the birthdate is incorrect? When you watch the video, it shows the letter stating that he was born on Nov. 13, ’53, yet the text of the article states November 14th. Little mistake, but it’s one that shouldn’t be made. Also, did anyone hear the newscaster say that the letter was “hidded”? Really???

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