For over 60 years Sam Childress, who was raised by his mother Shirley Childress, believed that his father wanted no part in his life. At the same time his father Anthony Trapani, now 81, was completely unaware of the son desperately trying to reach out to him.
In the early 1950’s Shirley Childress was 16 and looking for adventure, so she started a hitchhiking journey from Tennessee to Pennsylvania. When she reached Michigan she met and started dating Anthony, a handsome Italian boxer. The love affair ended when Shirley left town, embarrassed at finding herself pregnant, and Anthony eventually moved on and married another woman.
Anthony and his wife were never able to conceive a child together. Perhaps that’s why she hid the letter that arrived one day in 1958 that read “I have a little boy. He is five years old now. What I’m trying to say Tony is he is your son. He was born November 14th, 1953.” It may also explain why years later, when a then teenage Sam found his father’s number and called, she lied and said that Anthony wanted nothing to do with him.
56 years later, in 2014 Anthony found the letter while cleaning out a cabinet belonging to his recently deceased wife. His sister was able to find Sam’s wife on Facebook, and suddenly the decades-long search was over for Sam. When interviewed by WXMI-TV about why his wife hid the letter from him, Anthony said “Why my wife didn’t tell me. I don’t know. She wanted children. She couldn’t have any. She tried and tried.”
While Anthony may never know why his wife made the choice to hide the letter from him, he’s certainly not letting any more precious time slip away from him. Anthony and his son Sam visited first over Skype in 2014, and in 2015 they finally were able to reunite in person when Sam made a visit to his father’s assisted living facility. Relatives say the likeness between the two men is undeniable, including a shared love of fishing and hunting, though they still plan to verify the bond with a paternity test.
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