Archive for May, 2012

Sixty years ago today Father James Kevin Hargrove, a chaplain in the US Army died in a car accident on a Saturday night in Montana. He was 37 years old.

Sixty years ago today a three year-old boy was sleeping soundly in his bed on Madison Place in the Marine Park Section of Brooklyn.  He had no idea that there had been a death in my family.

The priest was my father and I was the three-year-old boy. And while we were genetically connected I never knew the man who was my father, nor, to the best of my knowledge had I ever seen him, although there is a story that he did see me on more than one occasion while I was in the Foundling Home.

I knew nothing of my father’s identity until 30 years after his death. I was a grown man with three children of my own when I learned who my father was…and I use the term “who” very loosely because it has taken me another 30 years to get to really know him, not perhaps as he really was, but as I imagine he might have been.

He was a priest, and from what I’ve been told by people who knew him, he was a “good priest.” But like the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz, one could question whether or not he was a “good man.”

That he broke his vow of celibacy…on more than one occasion, considering the fact that he “fathered” at least three children…does not necessarily make him a “bad man.” It just makes him a tragic figure in that he was weak of flesh and prone to the temptations that inflict us all.

Like the Scarecrow, my father…the father, was intelligent. I’ve seen his high school and seminary report cards and can say that he was not the best student, but he did have a passion for the written word and had earned quite a reputation as a writer…and teacher of literature and drama.

Like the Tin Man, my father…the father, was loving and kind. His warm smile and open heart made him a favorite on the altar and in the classroom.

But unlike the Lion who found his courage, my father…the father, fell short. I don’t think he was courageous.

He remains a great mystery to me. And a mystery he’ll always be. But despite all the mystery surrounding him, a little bit of him lives on, not only in me, but also in my four children and in my six grandchildren. And it’s more than DNA because I believe that not only do we inherit our looks, native intelligence, etc. from our parents, we inherit the essence of who they were as they struggled to find themselves.

Today, on the 60th anniversary of his death, I won’t take the time to mourn him, but rather I will take today as an opportunity to thank him for giving me the gift of life, and allowing me to see that gift grow in my children and grandchildren.


Read Full Post »

If you can stumble on the internet, then I stumbled across a real YBR song on YouTube. The singer song-writer is Melissa Fowler.  Give a look. Give a listen. Give a boost to Melissa.



Read Full Post »

A mother. I’ve never been one. But I did have one. No, I had two. And now for the first time I will say something I’ve never told anyone. I had a third mother. Confused? You should be. But remember strange things happen on the Yellow Brick Road.

So, I’ve got some ‘splainin to do. The mother who raised me (Margaret Catherine Begley) had a kind heart and a tender soul. She was like a wounded bird and I did everything I could do as a child to make her happy.

The mother who gave birth to me (Elizabeth Chadwick) had a broken heart and a timid soul. And by finding her I did all I could do to relieve her of some of the pain she carried with her.

I had two mothers for about six years (1981-1987). And then my adoptive mother died. And six years later my birth mother died.

But what about my third mother? Who was she? She was Marilyn Monroe.

OMG.  Marilyn Monroe?  I must be crazy. Marilyn Monroe never had a baby.

But on the Yellow Brick Road things aren’t always the way they appear on the surface. Although Marilyn Monroe was a sex goddess and the All-American pin-up girl, I saw and felt the sad and vulnerable side of her.  I saw the sadness in her eyes.

In my heart I knew what would have turned the sadness inside out. A child. She needed a child at a time when I was looking for a birth mother.  So I imagined I was the child Marilyn had and had to give up.

When she died that day in August 1962, I lost the mother I had imagined…and I was sad because I never had the chance to take away her sadness.

In 1981 when I was reunited with my real birth mother I had my chance to take away her sadness. Because she had been sad for so many years it was impossible to take all the sadness away, but with the help of my wife and the unconditional love my kids showed their “grandma,” and then with the additional love she was given when I reunited her with her first-born son and his family, I believe my birth mother died a little happier.

A mother’s love. It’s a wonderful thing.

Read Full Post »