When Tony Trapani was clearing out his wife’s filing cabinet after she had passed away, he found a hidden letter. The handwritten note was dated to 1959 – and after he had read it, he was left shocked. That was because it contained a secret his wife had kept from him for more than five decades.
When Trapani’s wife had been alive, though, the couple had tried and tried for the one thing that was missing from their partnership: a baby. But no matter how much they both wanted it, it never happened, as Trapani’s wife wasn’t able to conceive. And as a result, their marriage remained childless.
After the death of his spouse, however, Trapani’s life would take an unexpected turn. And that came after he found a letter at the back of a drawer while clearing out his late wife’s filing cabinet. In fact, it was so well-hidden that Trapani had missed it the first time that he had sorted through the cabinet’s contents.
The letter’s postmark was dated March 1959, and it was addressed to Trapani. Curious, not least because he had never seen it before, the widower duly opened the envelope and read the letter inside. And what it contained was a life-altering secret that his wife had kept hidden for over 50 years.
The letter read, “Dear Tony, I bet you are surprised to hear from me after so many years. I was just thinking about you tonight like so many other nights. But I thought I would write you and find out how you are.” The message, then, was from a woman that Trapani had dated before he married.
And the next paragraph was a bombshell. Trapani’s ex-girlfriend wrote, “Tony, please don’t be angry or surprised to hear this. I have a little boy. He is five years old now – gray eyes and beautiful black hair. What I am trying to say, Tony, is he is your son.”
The letter concluded, “Please, Tony, if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, please come and see him. Every day he asks me where is his daddy and believe me, Tony, I can’t even answer him anymore. I would be forever grateful to you if you would just see him. I’ll close now, hoping and praying you will answer.”
Trapani’s family believes that his wife had come across the letter first and read it. Not wanting her husband to know about it, she had subsequently hidden it away behind the drawer. But now the truth was out, and Trapani started looking for the son he never knew he had. Little did he know, though, that his quest would lead to yet another stunning revelation…
To begin with, however, Trapani and his family started their search with a name he had been given in the letter. The message was from his former girlfriend Shirley Childress and, in closing, she had written that her son’s name was Samuel Duane. So, Trapani’s sister, Arlene Schulte, began searching for possible relatives or connections to Samuel on Facebook.
Samuel Duane Childress, meanwhile, had grown up in Pennsylvania and had often spoken to his mom about his absent father. As he told Fox 17 in January 2015, “I always asked my mom… ‘Well, what does he look like?’ She said, ‘Well, go look in the mirror.’”
And Childress knew that his mom had written to Trapani, telling him that he was the father of her then five-year-old boy. However, she didn’t receive a reply to her plea to meet with him. She therefore assumed that, although the letter had been delivered to its intended recipient, Trapani had rejected his son.
Indeed, the idea of ever meeting his father remained a distant hope throughout Childress’ youth. But that all changed when Trapani’s sister connected with her nephew’s wife on Facebook. Soon, the long-lost father and son would meet for the very first time.
Childress, now 63, met Trapani for the first time on January 19, 2015. And, understandably, the meeting was an emotional one – not least because the son had believed that his dad had forever turned his back on him. Childress would tell Fox 17 at that time, “Just to know him now is so important to me. It’s going to fill that void.”
For Trapani, meanwhile, it was the opportunity to bond with the child he and his wife had always longed for but could never produce. And the visibly emotional man told Fox 17, “He’s my full son that I’ve had my whole life, but why my wife hid that letter is beyond me.”
Indeed, the meeting was a profound one for Trapani. When asked to describe how he felt meeting Childress for the first time, for instance, the 83-year-old replied, “How does anybody feel when they have a newborn son?” And as the bond the pair felt was instant, they were almost certain they were indeed related – just as the letter had stated.
Not wanting to rely on decades-old information for confirmation, though, Childress and Trapani agreed that it was a good idea to take a paternity test – just to be sure. Nevertheless, they were both almost convinced that the relationship was real and so continued to make up for a lost six decades.
And during the two weeks after they took the test, Childress and Trapani kept on getting to know each other. On February 2, 2015, however, the results came back. And if their reunion hadn’t been enough of an emotional rollercoaster until this point, they were about to find themselves in shock yet again.
That was because the paternity test was negative, meaning that there was no chance that Trapani and Childress were related in any way. And after all those years having a father-shaped void in his life, the 63-year-old was understandably devastated at the revelation.
“It’s kind of shocked me a little bit,” Childress told Fox 17 at the time. “Instead of being 99 percent, it was zero and it kind of set me back. I mean, it’s just like a shock to me.” Despite that blow, however, both men have vowed to maintain their newfound bond.
In fact, Childress has even stated that he had no interest in continuing his search for his biological dad. Instead, he has been looking to Trapani to be the new father figure in his life. Indeed, as Childress would tell Fox 17, “I call [Trapani] every day. And talking to him, he says the same thing about the result. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter what [it] says. I know you are my son.’”