I have been trying to think of a way to put a recent life changing revelation for me into words. We all know about all the things that have made 2020 especially difficult for everyone. I do not have to tell you that we’re all living in an era of uncertainty, but I recently found out something that shook me to the very core.
I recently found out that I am not who I thought I was. It completely upended my concept of self-identity. The one thing in my life that I always felt like I could be proud of is that I at least I knew who I was. I have always been fiercely independent, and I have always refused to conform just for the sake of fitting in. I have always strived to be authentic and to put my full heart into everything I do. I have now grown into a 44-year-old man. Life has beat me up pretty good, but I have always came out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever. I feel stronger now than I ever have in the past. I still try to take things a day at a time and retain my sense of context with each new challenge thrown my way.
About a month or so ago, I received the shock of my life. I found out that I am not genetically a Perdue. I actually have a different biological father. I had taken the 23and me DNA test along with also taking the Ancestry test. I had someone contact me on 23andMe claiming to be my cousin. I could not find any connection with the research I had been doing. It turned out that he had done some research about me. Much of my life is out there in the open due to me being a performing singer/songwriter/producer. Once I started chatting with him, things started lining up that could not be coincidence. I was very overwhelmed. I finally just asked my mother, and she confirmed that it was true. At that moment, my entire life changed. I was not who I thought I was. I am definitely who I am partially because of my environment, but there are many unexplained things that are passed through a bloodline. Nature has a lot more of a say in the matter than I realized.
I had thought that my dad also did not know about me not being his son genetically, but I spoke with him, and he said he knew. He chose to raise me as his own. My Dad and I have had many disagreements about religion, politics, and independence over the years, but he was there for me on day one when I was born at Fort Rucker on September 20th 1976. This revelation about what he did for me, just deepened my respect for him as a person. My dad: Thomas Eugene Perdue, taught me many things. I think one of his greatest legacies as a father, is giving me my strong work and moral ethic. I do not agree with everything he taught me about religion and politics, but I know he did everything he could in the way that he thought was right. At the core of just being a good human being, he set a great example. As I tell many people, he would give anyone the shirt off his back if they were cold. His care and influence is part of why I am who I am today. For that, I am eternally grateful. I have no idea how I would have ended up if he had not accepted me as his own.
I have met much of my new genetic family through messages. All of the people that I have communicated with have been wonderful people. I cannot even explain how kind and accepting they have been of me. They have also been very respectful of the awkwardness of sorting through all of this with my known family. As it turns out, my genetic father is a person named Richard McCarthy. It turns out I am much more Irish than I realized. It is reflected on my DNA profile. I just did not understand how it connected when I have a French name, but zero DNA from France. It makes so much more sense now. Richard McCarthy is still alive, but I have not communicated with him. At this point, it would just be more to understand about myself. He was in shock as well when he found out. He had no idea I existed.
I have been learning more about my genetic father through other McCarthy family members. They have tried to help me get a better understanding of who he is. He is apparently sort of an enigma. The other part of the family does not have a lot of contact with him on a regular basis. They say he is a very nice person, but he likes being alone. From what I understand, he has been through some tough things in life as well. I found out that he used to be a Disc Jockey in Cullman in the 70s. He is also a very prolific songwriter. It appears that he is very eccentric. I actually was able to hear some of his music, and it was very creative and unique. What I hear of his music had a very movie soundtrack vibe to it. A few songs actually had his voice on. It honestly freaked me out when I heard it, because his voice sounds similar to mine. I think that was one of the most shocking things about it for me. I am not sure if I will ever actually meet him, or communicate with him. Maybe I will one day. I just know that the more I learn about him, the more it makes sense that I am how I am.
The person that figured out this whole mystery was Stephen McCarthy. He is my cousin, and he has been very cool to get to know through messaging. I have also now messaged with his dad; Kevin McCarthy, he is my uncle. He has been cool, and has sort of been the go between to communicate with my biological father. I have also messaged with Kevin’s cool sister Kate, and his wonderful wife Carol.
Kevin also has three daughters. They are Hannah, Charlanne, and Morla. I learned that they are all singer/songwriters. I have listened to all of their music, and I can honestly say all of their talent blows me away. I do not say it lightly. I am meticulous about my music, but they all truly tap into the same magic that I try to use with my music. They write great songs, they all have great voices, and they all play instruments. After listening to all of their music, I can see certain sensibilities that I share with all of them in my songwriting and general overall vibe. It has been just amazing to see and hear the kindred spirits who I share a bloodline with. I have messaged with my cousins quite a few times, and we just share so much in common. Even our sense of humor is similar. I cannot even tell you how cool all of this part of it has been. I have always felt like I was another being from space. I never felt like fit into anything or with anyone all these years. I do relish in being different, but I’ll be honest with you, it can get very lonely to not be able to talk to many other people who really get you as a person. I never had any sisters growing up, so it has been cool having cousins who almost feel like sisters to me already.
I have already told the members of my newfound family that I love them all. I am proud to be a part of that family. I am proud of my Irish heritage, and proud of my engrained uniqueness. All that being said, I know who raised me, and helped get me where I am today. That was Thomas Eugene Perdue and Shirley Perdue. They are my Father and Mother no matter what. As hard as all of this has been, it has been a relief to know the truth after 44 years. It is really helping come to terms with my real identity. Life is not black and white. There are many shades in between that help create who we are as people. I have started coming to terms with all of this, and I think this is helping everyone in my family and newfound family to heal, and move forward together. I am proud to be a part of both. In the end, this whole thing has been a great gift and blessing.
Thomas Anthony “Tony” Perdue (McCarthy)