Sometimes a person knows he wants to be an author but has a hard time deciding what to write. Sometimes it’s just the opposite, and a person who has no intention of becoming an author learns a story he feels compelled to write. In my case I was already an author and then a story came along that I felt compelled to write. I had written one book, Travels with Bobby – Hiking in the Mountains of the American West. I knew I wanted to write another one, and an amazing true story that demanded to be written fell into my lap.
I was adopted as an infant, had wonderful parents, never searched for my birth mother, and never would have. But fifteen years ago I learned that Julie Francis was my birth mother as a result of litigation that lawyers pursued in four courts in two states in an effort to find me. The reason they went to all the trouble is that I was a potential heir to a fortune from Julie’s very wealthy grandfather, who owned oil wells all over the country as well as the only facility in the Western hemisphere that made fluoride for toothpaste.
They found me in June 2004, and I learned the circumstances of my birth exactly one week before my first grandchild was born under almost identical circumstances. Julie got pregnant in the fall of her freshman year of college, my daughter Ann Lowrey in the fall of her sophomore year. My granddaughter Ada Brooks’s birthday and mine are only sixteen days apart. Although the circumstances were the same, the times were very different and, because of the difference, my daughter got to keep and raise her baby, who has grown into an extraordinary young lady.
My adoption file, from which I learned that my legal name was Scott Francis for the first year of my life, was mailed to me on the day Ada Brooks was born. Exactly fourteen years later, on Ada’s birthday, Julie’s family, which is now my family too, gave me a portrait of Julie painted in 1952, the year she turned fourteen. I looked at Ada and I looked at the portrait – my granddaughter and birth mother, the same age, both beautiful.
It was too good of a story not to write.
Brooks Eason loves stories, reading and writing them, hearing and telling them. He also loves music, dogs, and campfires as well as his family and friends. His latest book is Fortunate Son – the Story of Baby Boy Francis, an amazing memoir about his adoption, discovery of the identity of his birth mother, and much more.
Eason has practiced law in Jackson for more than 35 years but has resolved to trade in writing briefs for writing books. He lives with his wife Carrie and their two elderly rescue dogs, Buster and Maddie, and an adopted stray cat named Count Rostov for the central character in A Gentleman in Moscow, the novel by Amor Towles. In their spare time, the Easons host house concerts, grow tomatoes, and dance in the kitchen. Eason, who has three children and four grandchildren, is also the author of Travels with Bobby – Hiking in the Mountains of the American West about hiking trips with his best friend. Visit Brooks online at www.brookseason.com. WordCrafts Press is an independent publishing company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit WordCrafts online at www.wordcrafts.net.
It was a Tuesday morning in June 2004. The day had started like any other. I walked the dogs, ate breakfast while reading the paper, then drove downtown to work. I was in my office on the 14th floor of the Trustmark Bank Building when my phone rang. It was my father, Paul Eason. He rarely called me at work but had just listened to an intriguing voicemail. He was calling to tell me about it.
Daddy was 82 and lived by himself in Tupelo, Mississippi, in the home where I grew up. It was the only home he and my mother Margaret ever owned. She had died five years earlier in the bedroom they shared for more than forty years. I lived three hours south of Tupelo in Jackson, where I had practiced law for two decades.
The message was from a woman in New Orleans, also a lawyer. She said her firm was conducting a nationwide, court-ordered search for Paul Eason, age 46. I go by my middle name, but my first name is Paul and I was about to turn 47. I told Daddy I would return the call.
Why a court in New Orleans would order someone to search the entire country for me was a mystery. A theory occurred to me, but after all these years it didn’t seem possible. Because I didn’t know the reason for the call, I decided not to identify myself as the Paul Eason the lawyer was trying to find. I would just say I was Brooks Eason and was returning the call she had placed to my father. But when she came to the phone, she already knew who I was.
“I can’t believe we found you.”
“What is this about?”
“Tell me more.”
* * *
That was the day I began to learn the story that had been a mystery to me all my life, the story of my birth and second family. In the days that followed, I found out that my name was Scott Francis – or rather that it had been – for the first year of my life. I was nearly fifty years old, but until then I didn’t know I had started life with a different name, much less what it was. My name, as well as the rest of the story, had been a secret. This is the story of how I learned the secret. But this story is about more than that. It is also about the wonderful life my parents gave me, about my exceptional daughter and granddaughter, who was born just days after Daddy received the voicemail. and about how times and attitudes changed from when I was born until she was born.