Kendall and Corey are celebrating NPE Awareness Day with a new episode featuring Gene McLeod. Through some extraordinary circumstances, Gene discovered his Dad was not his birth father. No one knew this truth, even Gene’s birth mother. He kept the secret until his parents passed, and now Gene is sharing his truth in an upcoming book.
NPE: No One Knew My True Parentage
Gene McLeod is a retired RF sensor and communications engineer now living in Richmond, Virginia. He earned his BS in Physics from Marshall University in 1985, and an MS in Electrical Engineering from The University of Virginia in 1987. Prior to writing Intersections, Gene managed numerous technical proposal writing teams, winning several multi-million-dollar awards.
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Hello and welcome to season three of Family Twist, a podcast about DNA surprises, found family, and amazing adoption stories. I'm Kendall Austin Stulce and my partner is Corey Stulce. We've had fabulous guests during seasons one and two. We're sharing stories of people who identify as NPEs, also called not parent expected, others who found out they were donor conceived and have surprised siblings, and even others with unique family twists.
of Kendall's adoption story and his discovering both sides of his biological family in 2017. So if you're just finding the podcast, we encourage you to start with episode one to learn more about Kendall's journey. Thank you for listening.
Well, we're back season three, Family Twist. Very excited that we've got a wonderful guest today, Gene McLeod. Now, Gene, we've often talked about nature versus nurture on the podcast, but you definitely have a nature versus nurture theme to your story. Yes, I do. So, and of course there's a DNA surprise in there as well. Big one, yes. So let's...
Let's start off with just like the revelation that you found out your, the man that raised you, your dad, was not your biological father. Correct. So, how did you come to this realization? Oh, okay. You know, if you don't mind.
I thought about this. I think it's best if I set it up with like some background of my family. Sure. And then go right in and then the discovery part is the second part. And that's where you guys want to get in. And that's a really good story by itself. So let me give you the, I think if I give you the background first, then do the discovery, it kind of frames the discovery. Okay. Better. Cool. Yeah. So, um, so the background, my
real-life family story at a high level. And this will take a few minutes, but bear with me. So I grew up, there were four of us, me and my brother, mom and dad. And I come from a lower socioeconomic background, grew up literally next door to the trailer parks. We actually envied the people in the double wides, they were much nicer homes than we lived in.
You know, so it's a working class neighborhood. It was in the West End of Huntington. We'll get in more of that West End as a particular thing in Huntington. So I hope people don't get offended by it, but really it was at the time a bit of what I would call the hillbilly ghetto. Huntington's a city, and this is a section of the city that almost was a subculture within the city, I would say.
So my mom and dad were both sweet, simple souls, just gorgeous people, but they're human and they had issues. And with my mom, she had a hard bout with anxiety, depression, and drinking. With dad, it was different. He had shopping addictions and he was a hoarder. And both of them were really in hindsight. I didn't get this when I was a child, but it really was PTSD from their childhoods.
Mom was raised by an abusive father, physically abusive, and dad was a victim of neglect. A father who worked on the rivers, never was home, and didn't send home much money. He made money, but he basically indulged himself with it. So both of them go to dark places in their adult lives, which we'll get into, but they both later recover and redeem themselves.
quite well. And outside our home, their issues were mostly hidden. And I can tell you today, the children of my neighborhood through Facebook and when I would come into town, I still visit Huntington a lot. My hometown's Huntington, West Virginia. I don't know if I got that out there or not. I live in Richmond, Virginia now, but spent most of my adult life in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia.
But the folks from the old neighborhood in Huntington, man they just adored my parents. I mean they talk about them to this day. They're very wonderful people. So next my younger brother Curtis, and this is important. He was a live for the day thrill seeker, pleasure seeker, and he didn't give a damn about much.
He thought the game of life was rigged. He was a fatalist. And he believes it's not what you know, it's who you know. And he, in the city of Huntington, there's some very nice neighborhoods, lots of, it's a college town, professors, lawyers, doctors. It's a medical center, people with money and well-to-do folks in really nice places.
And he always resented those folks. And it's like, who you know and what you know. And the privilege in town bothered him. And we were not privileged. So put that aside there, because this all goes into the DNA here. So I'm anything but a simple person like my parents.
I'm anything but a fatalist like my brother. I'm more of a, well, I am an optimist, but I'm a, it comes out early. I'm this complex, unusually serious child and a live for tomorrow strategist, not a live for the day, delayed gratification. If you work at it, it gets better. The game might be a little rigged, but I don't care.
I'm going to take it on, determined as hell. And so what if other kids have privileges? So what if playing field is not level? I don't care. And we're only 20 months apart. We're very close in age. I also very young demonstrated intellect and interest outside the family. I was the nerd.
In elementary school, I read encyclopedias forward and backwards. I could tell you every US president and what they did and what their positives and negatives were. I mean, I'm fourth grade. I read Almanacs like crazy. If I got a hold of a map, I wanted to know where everything was at. I was...
I was that kind of kid, very young, and that just like people within my family, just like, what's going on here? So, anyway, but I was loved and appreciated, just hard to figure out, you know, from all of them. I was confounder to the family. And I was a bit of an intense type A personality. None of those three were type As.
at all, very laid back people. So, too serious about too many things. I was on a mission and it kind of made the family a little uncomfortable, particularly my mother and my brother, not so much my dad, ironically, but definitely my brother Curtis and my mother Jane.
That was actually very fascinated with my attitude and encouraged it He liked what he was seeing and And I think it's well all parents hope all parents have that you know that hope that their children Do better than they did in life. Yeah, he kind of had this said Well, let's just stand back and watch this boy go and see what happens it's kind of where he was at and You know, I think what I did well, I know it's somewhat
I don't know if threatened is the right word, but kind of threatened my brother and mother a little bit. But not him, he was a cool customer. All right, so where are we now? And here's kind of an irony too is, I would say at least in my childhood, my dad is the one who appreciated me the most and supported my optimism. How about that?
So we're actually, well, I'm close to all of them, but I'm really close to my dad, really close. I mean, we had a bond, you know? And so mom, dad and brother, all of them were marginal high school students. My brother eventually went to college, but mom and dad didn't go to college. My dad and brother barely graduated high school. I mean, skin of their teeth type of stuff, high school.
My dad was functionally illiterate, probably could only read at a third or fourth grade level. My mom was read at a higher level than that, but she got a D in algebra and an F in geometry in high school. On the other hand, I was straight A student. My bachelor's degree is in physics.
My engineering degree is in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia. I graduated summa cum laude and top of the class in both schools. What's going on here? And I was a huge surprise to everyone. There's a lot of people that Gene is going to the University of Virginia. I mean it...
Even though I did well in high school, it kind of was under the radar. You know, it just, people's impressions of me were different because I was from the West End of Huntington. So we were called Stenders. We had, there was a name for us. I was a stender, meaning I was from the West End. So, so any rate.
That all went well, I married a very intelligent woman who I met at University of Virginia, still married to her 35 years, more than 35 years. Congrats. Thank you. And I basically go on to have up there in Northern Virginia and DC, what I would call a Cinderella career in the defense industry and engineering and accomplished a whole lot. We'll just leave it there. I'm retired.
I'm done. Good for you. I was able to get out early before it killed me. Right, right. So my adult, the whole thing's a fairy tale for me. I mean, up before the discovery, it's a fairy tale. You know, and my parents were marvelous grandparents to our children and just my children, just very attached to them and all that kind of stuff. So.
My brother was also a very much loved uncle and my kids just adored him. As a, you know, very amusing dude. I'm not getting in the way, you're only closing it up here. And so, but here's the thing. His life was not the fairy tale. He dies tragically in 2017.
basically from complications of alcoholism and broke. And we'll cover that in a minute. So one, more than one person asked, what's going on here? I mean, you got my trajectory, you got my brother's trajectory. And same environment, not that far apart in age.
We're close. We knew each other very well. I dare say no one on the planet knew my brother better than I did. I delivered his eulogy at the funeral. When I did the eulogy, people would say, man, that's the essence of Kurt and things I didn't know about him. I could say things that my parents didn't know, that his best friends didn't know. I knew that guy all the way through. And probably could be said the same thing from him to me, except for one detail.
Um, so that's 2017, right? He was 52 when he died, died young. Um, so 2019, so it's 15 months after he passes away, uh, is when the discovery occurred and, um, and, and now I'm going to get to your question.
But I wanted to give that background, all that is. Appreciate it, yes. And so that's when I discovered that my dad, Richard McLeod, that kind, good-looking, 6'4", looks like Rock Hudson, basically. Tough as nails, functionally illiterate glass worker that busted his rump at the glass factory.
and did a lot for me, boy, where I'd be without him. That's when I learned he's not my biological father. And he's still living, and my mom's still living, although she's kind of in the throes of dementia at the time. But yeah, that's when I discover, no, you are not the son of the biological son.
And now that I got two dads, I've got to say dad and bio dad. I got two titles, dad and bio dad to keep them straight. So when I say dad, I'm talking about Richard McLeod. So I'm not the son, I was the pride of the West End, the guy that came from that neighborhood and ascended. And me and Richard McLeod arm in arm, the son of the glass worker just showed you could do it. And I learned it my biological father.
is a retired army colonel and bank executive with an MBA from the University of Richmond, pretty prestigious school. And he's also a Bronze Star from his military service, very accomplished career. And we know each other well, we're tight now, we'll get to that a little bit. But that was the shocking thing. You know, it's like...
and then you compare with me and my brother and the kind of, there was always an implied, I never, you know, I wasn't mean to him or anything like that, but there was always like, come on, Kurt, come along with me, come along, you can do this, come along with me, follow my lead, younger brother, you, come on, right? Right, right. And it's in that moment, you know that
It's like I was playing the game and I was juiced. Right? I mean, it was unfair for me to say those things to him. He couldn't do these things that I could do. I mean, sure, he could have been a very successful tradesman or something like that. But come on, doing.
uh, phased array radars for the military to detect signals. No, right. Yeah. There's just no way. Yeah. Uh, that, that's, that's the nature part of it. I had, I mean, I had a bigger brain. Yeah. Uh, uh, and it's, it was humbling. It was, uh, it, I mean, it literally brought me to my needs. I mean, everything I thought before that discovery.
uh just it you know the world's not what you think it is man not any kid from the west i always thought any kid from the west end of honeycomb west virginia if they you know it's cultural you know just just just go against the norm which i did and you got this not entirely true so with with no inkling whatsoever that you weren't richard's boy
What made you do a DNA test? So in 2015, we took our trip to Scotland. My McLeod's a Scottish name. My daughter was in the Glasgow School of Art and Design.
and we saw that while she was doing her graduate work there in Scotland in not Edinburgh but the other one at Glasgow. While she was in Glasgow we decided hey let's this is our time to see Scotland and let's see MacLeod Castle. Right? Sure. Yeah. The Castle of Dunvegan. I don't know if you've heard of that or not but it's pretty cool one of the cooler castles on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. So we went to we went to Glasgow we went to the Isle of Skye we
And there's lots of stories about, yeah, my mother was so dark-complected. And I got some Italian in there or something like that. Just how much Scottish am I? Richard MacLeod was your real pale-complected, black-haired, blue-eyed. He was Scottish all the way, man. With skin cancer. I mean, battling skin cancer. He was Scottish.
You know, I was darker complexed, and my mom was really dark complexed, and I thought, she must have some Italian or something like that, and she said, there might be American Indian in the family, you know, that kind of stuff, right? Right, sure. So I'm back from, and it was really hot off the trip from Scotland, when it was like, all right, let's just see how, I signed the book at the Castle of Danvagan as part of the MacLeod family. Maybe I committed some crime or something now that I didn't say, but, no, I'm teasing.
But so I did the ancestry test just to see, all right, how much Scottish is here? And it was uneventful. I came back, and I'm saying this is 2016, comes back. And yeah, there's a lot of Scottish there. And no big surprises. And guess what? Mom's not Italian. She's just a dark, complected Northern European, is what she must be.
England and Scotland, you know, northern France, northern Germany, Scandinavia, that's where I am. So, wow, they got dark, complex people up in northern Europe. Okay, all right. So, anyway, so, and it just sits there in 2016. That's, I'm done with it, right?
You know, yeah, I did some Facebook posts on look how Scottish I am, you know, just, you know, you know commentary Yeah, but but that was the end of it Alright now how was it discovered? So I've actually got the notes right here Let me scroll them down make sure I get this right because those people will be listening and the person involved here We'll probably be listening to this but so on February 8th 2019
I receive an Ancestry message, and I heard you guys talk about that on your podcast, basically. It's not really email, it goes through Ancestry for privacy protection, all good there. And I get a, in my email box, like, hey, you got a message on Ancestry from Lisa. You know, so, and I haven't even looked at Ancestry for almost three years, at least two. So, and here's her quote.
Would you be willing to speak with me regarding the family connection? And then my response was, sure, this should be fun. Had no idea what I was getting into. So the connection shows I'm closely related to her two teenage kids, but I'm not related to her, which means I'm somehow related to her ex-husband. All right? And...
Yeah, she's still feeling me out and the messages are very non-detailed. I think you brought up ax murderer or something like that. She wants to make sure I'm not an ax murderer, one of those things. All right, just check me out. Fair enough. Now.
without going on anything else and just looking at the correlation, the degree that was connected to her teenage kids, and so I must be related to her ex-husband. My wife and I concluded that her ex-husband probably is the biological son of Richard McLeod, my dad, not my bio dad. Remember, he's good looking, rock Hudson guy.
When he was younger, he was definitely a very faithful, devoted husband later, but when he was younger, he was young. He was a little young and foolish. And this could have been the tail end of this young, foolish phase. So that's where we left it on February 8th or 9th, as my wife and I said, yeah, that good-looking son of a gun father of yours has another son out there. And yeah, we'd love to meet him.
So finally Lisa gets back to me and she goes, okay, I don't think my ex-husband is the son of Richard MacLeod. And when she gets comfortable with me, she finally gives me the names of her ex-husband, his siblings, and his dad. And he says...
She says, go look them up, you know, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever you, she didn't direct me where to go, but those are the names. Do your thing and see what you find out. And I look at the pictures on Facebook of all of them, and I say, oh boy. And then on the morning of February 11th, 2019, it's a Monday.
I'm still, I'm thinking that this might be it. I mean, this guy could be my bio father, but I, you know, it wasn't, you know, or was my mind just playing tricks on me, right? And then I see this picture of my bio dad now. He's 26, he's dribbling a basketball. I'm a basketball player, but that's Richard McLeod was a basketball player from two basketball playing fathers. We're all basketball players.
But there he is, 26, dribbling a basketball, same haircut I got right now. And we're dead ringers. I mean, just flat out dead ringers. And there were no more doubts. And I texted my wife with the picture and two words, it's over. And she, and well, actually after I texted it, I mean, that was, that was a fall to your knees, fetal position.
full out, emotional. 20 minutes after I came to and got to my phone again, the response from my wife says, oh yeah, it's over. You know, I mean, that picture is, you don't even have to take a DNA test if you look at that picture. That's me. I mean, it's the same expression on my face. It's, it's.
The build is the same, the face is the same, the eye, it's just all the same. It's hard to tell looking at an 80 year old man how close that was, but his younger self as in just in the right frame, there you go. And it's just right there is that you spend your whole life wondering who you are because I was such a misfit. And then in a second, you know.
So how did you or did you approach your parents with this information? Oh, dad and mom, not bio dad? Oh, I don't tell. Oh, OK. Here's the funny thing about the story, gentlemen. They didn't know. Oh. Not only did dad not know, mom didn't know. Now, how's that for an interesting story?
And I'll explain it. Now, as you know, I'm writing a book. Yes. So the book is Intersections, and the book will develop how this happened. And I know how. I've done the research, and I put two and two together from a lot of different things in my, before the discovery, it was almost like I was getting breadcrumbs that kind of tells me that no one knew. The first person on the planet to know.
that I'm the biological son of, his name was Dick Meadows, this Army Colonel Bank Executive, was Lisa, discovered in 2019. That's the first person on the planet to know.
and just by accident because her kids took DNA and I matched them.
So where do we go here? So yeah, no one knew, mom didn't know, dad didn't know, bio dad didn't know, and yeah, mom and dad are still alive. And my wife and I talked about this a lot at length. And after several days, it was clear that neither your mom or dad know, and you can't tell them.
They're sick and dying, and they take this to their grave. It would destroy Richard MacLeod. That is.
prize. His grandchildren. He didn't get grandchildren from Curtis. He got him from me. Curtis didn't have any kids. His two grandchildren. I mean, he loved his granddaughter, but his grandson is, if I just showed you pictures, he was just everything to him. Yeah, I'm going to tell him that that's not your biological grandson.
No way, man, no way. And mom had dementia, but no, we're not doing this. So that decision was made pretty early on and we can go into the evidence of why even mom didn't know. That's what makes this thing a little crazy. It's a little bit unique from that standpoint. But anyway, I wasn't right for four days after the discovery. I could not go to work. I...
told my boss I'll get in when I can. I can't really discuss what's going on. I think he thought my parents, he knew my parents were sick and I think he thought I was doing something with that. And I finally got back to the office on Friday but it took four days. And I'm a pretty emotionally tough guy to tell you the truth but it took four days to get my head, okay, I can go back to work again.
So to finish the story, so how do I meet the other side is the other question, right? Sure, right. So I've answered about the parents. I didn't tell them. How did they take it? They didn't take it. I didn't tell them. It turns out this is kind of a little bit hilarious, I think. It's more hilarious if you knew my sister. But less than...
four weeks after Lisa contacted me. Guess what? My sister Angie went on the Ancestry and she submitted a sample and she got it back. And I wasn't paying attention, but Lisa was, and she went on her Ancestry account and she saw Angie correlated to her kids. Of course, everyone expect that, that's their aunt, that's their ex-husband's sister. But she goes, oh God, Angie knows because she knows.
she's going to see this connection to me on Ancestry. And I'm sure it says very close family member, or whatever the phrase is, yeah. And oh boy, it did. At the same time she's got her, as this is going on, Angie's with her best friend at her house saying, who is this guy? And her friend, well, Angie, my sister, is very much into.
family trees and that kind of stuff. But her friend Margaret has been doing it for years, apparently, and she just says, Angie, that's your brother. And at any rate, Lisa calls Angie and it's like, they both know and all this kind of stuff. And finally, Lisa gets back to me. I haven't addressed Angie yet, but she basically just...
In the moment there, she just let me know, it's like, you know, Jean, now might be a time, good time to contact your sister because she knows all about you now. And she told me she would be fine if you reached out. So I sent the ancestry message back over to my sister Angie now. And I remember putting into the note that, you know, I always wanted a sister, this is great, you know? And...
And remember, I've got a paternal sister and two paternal brothers, right? One being the ex-husband. And so when I wrote that note to Angie, her response to me was, hey, so glad you reached out and I always wanted a sister too and look what I got. Another brother. Right, another brother.
So, no, our relationship's been great. So it was within a week of that message that I drove. So I'm in Northern Virginia at the time. And I drove down to Richmond, which is only a couple of hours, two hours away. And met her and her daughter at a Starbucks, my niece. And I remember her first words to me in person was, oh, you look familiar because we look so much alike. I'm.
much taller than she is, but facially we're very similar. And then she took me over a couple blocks away to meet my youngest brother, who was a restaurant manager that placed a couple blocks away. And Mark, my brother, he's an artist, which, remember my daughter?
Glasgow School of Art and Design. Right, yeah. They both are graduates of Virginia Commonwealth University, same art program. Wow. 20 years apart, but same art program. Yeah. Nature. And yeah, like, you know, and where my daughter Kelly does mostly botanical art is what she does. Mark is portraits. Who? Big on portraits.
So he would know a face when he sees it. And his first word to me is when I walked in there, he looked at me and he goes, whoa. And yeah, we were quite similar. It's certainly from the profile we really look a lot alike. So met them both that day. The ex-husband, I finally get it. He's up in Boston, works in pharmaceutical industry. And I got up to Boston on a work assignment. I was...
up there for a while and got to see him there later in the year. And in between those two visits, I met my biological father who drove up from, he was retired at Pinehurst, North Carolina. He's, he did quite well and he's quite a golfer and I'm a golfer and he came up to, I became a golfer later in life, but he came up to Richmond and we met there.
and it was all good. What was his reaction though to this revelation? Well his first reaction was, you know, stunned and really didn't know what to do with himself. But he knew because he remembered the event, he just had no idea there was a pregnancy involved.
Hi, it's Kendall. I just wanted to pause here for a moment to ask a quick favor. If you're able to safely look at your phone, not while driving, we would love it if you will subscribe to the podcast and if you'll give us a review. We'd love to hear what you think. Okay, back to the episode. So, anyway, the, yeah, we, we hit it off. I'm
The four of us are, we all heavily favor our father and we're all, I would say the five of us are really different variations of the same theme. So when we're in a room together, it wasn't like this awkward stranger and I gotta get used to this. There's really nothing to get used to. I'm basically cut from this cloth and they know it immediately, all of them. They see it in five minutes.
You know, they've never met me in my life, but you're a Meadows. You know, I mean, it's, you know, and that goes back to my background story is you had this Meadows bolted into the McLeod family. And that's why I was this enigma, confounder. Why does he do things this way? This is weird. There's no weirdness. And maybe we're all just weird, but it's the same kind of weird.
You know, but yeah, we, we had, yeah, the first, yeah, we were all going out to dinner with, with me and Angie, Mark and family. It's going to be a big family dinner on the day we met. But first we, my dad and I met for a couple hours in a quiet hotel, just me and him and just talked and it was a great talk and we could have gone for six hours. And again, talking to him was.
Like with my sister, like with my brothers, I mean, talking to him was just like, it's just easy. It's not like you're trying to figure out their rhythms and patterns, you have their rhythms and patterns. And it just, it can go on forever. Is the mother of your siblings still alive? No, no, that's a good question. She passed away in the mid-90s, suddenly. Okay. And were they...
together when you were conceived? They were married. Oh, my parents were married. And he was married. Okay. And we can, if you want to hear that part of the story, we can, I'll be very happy to go into that. Yeah. I mean, I would love that. That's what's eating at me right now. Cause I'm a journalist and I just, like, I got to know, and I know you, I know you're, it's going to go into more detail in the book.
Yeah, yeah. But yeah, it's like that's the big question. That's the big question. So how did my mother not know? Right. All right. I'll give you the short part. And then if we got, I don't know how much time you got, there's a longer part to it. But I'm going to give you the short part first. OK. So the short part is, remember she had the PTSD from the abusive father. Right.
That resulted into, and not only was she beaten as a child, but I think what bothered her most was seeing her sisters beat. And they talked about that a lot. Well, not a lot, I shouldn't say a lot. They, I heard, so my mom had two sisters, she also had two brothers, family of five. That was always, you know, oh, this one, when that beating happened and when that beating, so this is before the discovery.
and you just heard about, you know, and just, and I'm putting the stuff together. And then my Aunt Marge in 2018, mom's sister, told me about my mother's anxiety medications that she was on. And I didn't realize, we go through a, my mom and I go through a very dark time in the book. When I was in high school, I know Kendall's father had a drinking issue. I remember hearing him talk about that. Mom and I,
I was probably less sympathetic. Well, I wasn't probably, I was unsympathetic to our drinking problem. I had an attitude and gosh, I wish if I could go back in time, I would do it differently. I'm a dumb kid, but to me it was like, straighten up, buck up, you gotta be a more responsible adult. I mean, I'm doing fine, but here I am.
you know, the teenager's the one that's supposed to be having all the issues and stuff. And I'm making, you know, I don't put that in front of her, but I'm playing high school basketball and making straight A's and you're just falling apart. I mean, you know, and I'm pretty much taking care of myself, you know, and I know Kendall went through that. I mean, I know that whole story, but you know, it's just like, this is like an unforced error, you know, just.
you know, get a hold of yourself. Yeah, but you know, and of course that went over real well, right? Of course. Right. Yeah. Well, that's, you know, I'm a dumb kid. And it's only as this is what's great about this whole experience is I'm I'm I've got a good memory and I'm able to rerun the movie now and didn't understand what she was going through. So, okay. So why did my mother not know? And this is this is all really related. See, that's the the PTSD.
and her sister informingly that she went into huge panic attacks just at random. She was emotionally injured by the experience. She goes on, not the other sisters, but she goes on anxiety medications.
I forgot all the names of the anxiety. I've done the research on what was available then and what the side effects are and all that kind of stuff. And Marge didn't tell me which were the medications, but you can look up in the late 1950s, what you would be taking in the early 60s, what you would be taking for anxiety. And she goes, she was using anxiety medications a lot, really throughout her life, but really using a lot. So that's a big clue. So it's a mix of booze, anxiety medications.
and jealousy for Rock Hudson and Good-Looking Richard MacLeod. They go to a party one night. Some sorority chicks at the pool party in August of 1962 were hitting on the Good-Looking Richard MacLeod. Mom flies into her jealous rage. They have a huge fight. And this is what BioDad's informed me, because he was there.
They go into a, like something he's never seen before. And mom's hitting dad, but dad doesn't hit her back. But finally dad just says, I'm out of here. You find your own goddamn, I'm sorry. That's all right, yeah. And he left. Mom's there with a bunch of girlfriends that ran around together and drank too much. They're young, these are early twenties. They're in their early twenties.
They're drinking and partying too much. The 50s were wilder than you think. Well, this is 1962, but this is, it was a wilder time than, it was not Leave It to Beaver. That's the way it's portrayed, but that's not what reality was. They drank like crazy. And her and her girlfriends, she's had a big fight. She's trying to calm down.
She's doing shots with him and she's taking her anxiety meds all together. And two of the big side effects of that. Is inhibition. And blackout. And she had sex with with with bio dad, who was also drinking a lot that night, even though he was married. His wife was out of town, I think, at the time.
Mom was gorgeous.
You know, both my parents were really good looking people. And she's a honey. And it's late. And she doesn't, you know, he doesn't realize she's taking anxiety medications and she's out of her mind. He thinks, man, she thinks I'm cute. And for whatever reason that night, and thank God.
myself that they did, both went out of character for a moment. Like I said, BioDad remembers the evening, but he didn't know she was pregnant from it. Mom doesn't even remember the evening. And when it's discovered, because I know this from my past, mom and dad had been married already for four years trying to have kids. And
Kind of like Kendall's adopted mom story didn't go quite as long. They were afraid they would never have kids. And when she got pregnant, all Richard McLeod and Jane McLeod could think about was thank God it finally happened. Because mom was having sex with dad before the event and after the event with no memory of the event. And my wife assures me when...
when mom was alive and the way she would look at me and the way she would look at dad and the grandchildren, she believed that man was the father of them all. And she goes, I can tell if there was anything going on there. And one last thing, one last clue, my wife, my mom, and you'll know her character in the book and we can't develop her character here. You'll know her character. My mom, bless her heart. I mean, she's a loose cannon.
And with all the arguments and fights that we got into, if she knew that detail, she would have let me know right there in the heat of the moment. She used a lot of nasty words, unfortunately, when, you know, not flattering things about me that she felt. And I guarantee you, she would have laid that one on me to hurt me back when I was in high school, but she didn't know.
Yeah, it's hard for those things not to slip out at some point, right? You know, especially in the course of a fight. Right? Yeah, they don't have my mom and dad don't have the sophistication to keep a secret like that. Uh, there's like I said, they were sweet, simple souls to keep a secret like that. Takes a lot of sophistication and discipline and neither one had either. It's a lot of effort. Yeah.
to do that. Would you have told Curtis? Well, that's a good question. I didn't have to. Yeah, ultimately, I would have had to tell him after mom and dad passed. I would wait till mom and dad passed. And yes, ultimately, I would. Because I have a relationship with the other siblings. And
and the bio dad and he would have to some I'm not going to sneak around and hide that it was easy for my parents they were in they were in assisted living nursing care. Most of their friends had already died, it was easier to keep that was I didn't really have to even sneak around. For that, but if Curtis were still around and how he would have responded to that could have gone either way, he probably would have left his rear end.
That's probably where he would have gone with that. So at any rate, so that's, and I almost forgot to say this is that, and I hope this is a huge irony in the book that the readers pick up, is that the mom's anxiety driven substance abuse problems, which was the source of serious conflict between.
she and I, when I was a teenager, we almost became estranged. Kind of like Kendall, you're talking about your mom's sister. We were at the point like, we are about ready to just part for the rest of our lives. The irony is that her substance abuse anxiety is the reason I'm here.
I didn't know that at the time, but without that, I'm not here. Follow-up question. I'm really curious about this. So you mentioned your mother's siblings. Do they know now? Well, they all passed. Everybody had passed before the discovery. Mom was the baby sister, baby Jane. Got it. OK. And Marge?
had a discuss her next oldest sister who was five years older in 2018. I visit her mom and dad are still living. I'm six months or six seven months away from the discovery prior to the discovery and she knew she was dying and she wanted to have a talk with me about everything and I got a lot of dump on my a lot of stuff I did know about my parents but some things I didn't know such as the anxiety medication I didn't
She told me that in 2000. It's like that's one of those breadcrumbs. She doesn't know about the discovery, but it's like she's given me a breadcrumb, right? A clue for later use. And she told me a lot about my parents, how she had to take care of them. She's the one that got my mother into rehab and arranged for it and got her clean. And my mom went sober in 1980 and was sober for the rest of her life.
I was a senior in high school when she got sober. For a couple months while I was in my senior year, I had no mother, she was being rehabilitated. Marge, they couldn't read contracts very well. Marge would always read the contract, let you know if this is okay. She looked over their finances. You'll see things in the book that she is kind of like,
Again, my parents, sweet, simple souls, but life was a little complicated for them and they were not very good problem solvers. And Marge was the problem solver and I was the problem solver within the house myself. I'm a good problem solver, but, and nobody else had that. But yeah, she went through just a litany of stuff and what happened. And if my mom, another clue, if my mom knew, Marge would have known.
And Marge is the kind of person that would tell me, Jean, you're in your mid-50s. You need to know this because you need to figure out if you've got any medical in your background that you need to know about and be aware of. I mean, she would 100% do that, but she didn't know. And if she didn't know, mom didn't know. Right. Do you have cousins that?
Now they can find out. Yeah, they know. OK. I publicly announced this in late August 2021, two weeks after Richard McLeod passed away. Mom passed away in October 2020. Then 10 months later, or whatever that is, Dad passed away. Two weeks later, made the public announcement on Facebook. And basically let everybody know.
And boy, was that a bombshell. You know, 250 reactions and about 500 comments. So that was crazy. So yeah, the timing is what it gets at. You asked about BioDad's wife. You asked about mom's sisters. You asked about my brother. They were all gone.
you know, when it came. So that part was made, the only people around were still my parents. And it was easy not, it was easy to keep the information away from that. Right. But what a wonderful part of the story that, you know, all those people from your earlier life were all gone. But now you've got all these siblings and, you know, nieces and nephews. And it's just wonderful. Yes. Yep. The McLeods, you know, one by one.
left but now I've got three paternal siblings and and and Biodan's still kicking he's got some health issues right now he's 85 um but he's he's still around and I went down to see for his 85th birthday uh uh back in April um with my two brothers you know so um uh it was uh we had a little golf trip because his golf's his thing and um that's uh that's that's where that is so um
So, yeah, that's discovery and all. I don't know if you guys got time to talk about the book a little bit, but yeah. So everything I've told you now is real life. To make the book work, it's based on real life, but I'm calling it a work of auto fiction. It's sort of a memoir, but I've got to use some fiction.
You know, it seems like this happened in 78 and this happened in 76. And I'm just gonna put them together in 77 and move the story. There's things like that to move it along. I changed some names, you know, to get the gist of it and all that kind of stuff. And so, oh, by the way, Kendall, I gotta tell you that my bio dad, what was his career as an executive for the Federal Reserve? He was human resources.
Oh, good choice. He's a human resources guy. He was, he was human resources at Ben Hill Farms for the army and Manassas, or actually Warrenton, Virginia, and then went on to the Federal Reserve. And there's a great story that'll be covered in the book. It's one of the, one of the side stories, but basically his career at the Federal
Harvey Weinstein character, very important guy in the organization who was a sexual predator and he's head of human resources and he's trying to do something about this top executive that people say, sorry, he's too important. It's basically, that's based on a true story but the character has a different name, he has a different position.
You know, I wasn't there, so I've got to make up the scenes. That's what, that's why I think auto fiction's better. I think if my story turns into a book at some point, we're going to have to do some of that too, I've worked for really high profile companies as well, where I love to fictionalize at least the name and say this person was evil because it's true. It's like, you know, honestly, I mean, yeah, somebody who deserves to be.
you know, because trust me, the people that worked with her would understand exactly who she was. Right. So I in that arc, I try to describe the environment where a person can put themselves in that position and what an organization will do. And they they say the right words and stuff, but they they really that person's that valuable in the characters, he's the head of.
of economics research at the Federal Reserve. And he is a friend of Senator William Proxmire, and he is a Nobel Laureate, and he wins a lot of federal money for the Federal Reserve to do research in Richmond. Sorry, we can't let him go. Try to fix it, but he's too important. You can't, you know, it's that story.
And that's true. And my bio dad finally had to, after 10 years at the Federal Reserve, finally just in a very dramatic scene, resigns. Tells them, I can't do this anymore. I can't be a part of this. And since he started too, it was the 70s, when he started his position in 1970, sexual harassment was legal.
It was not until the mid 70s of the civil rights that they did a court case where the civil, it's like, no, this is covered under 1964 civil rights. And no, this is illegal. And that's what BioDad was doing. It's like, this is illegal. We can't, you know, I've tried to appeal to your ethical sense, but I'm not appealing to ethical anymore. This is legal. And that's the true story. And they basically said, it is your job.
to figure out how to solve this. And if you can't solve this, we'll get somebody else. We're not firing him. Which would also be illegal. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But anyway, that's the story there. But so the book, real quick about the book. I don't want to, yeah, that's just one of the, I have a lot of stories like that, that, you know, multiple threads that go through there. But so there's three threads. One is the McLeod family. That's me.
Curtis, Richard and Jane, mom and dad. And I tell you their story, you know? And then the second thread, there's three, the second thread is Molly Fletcher and Rick Fletcher. And different thread, Molly works with Richard McLeod of the Glass Factory. And Rick Fletcher goes on to join the military.
gets a college degree, joins the military, gets a Bronze Star, goes to the Federal Reserve, raises a family, all that arc. And there you go. They look independent, like why you keep switching A and B here? And then there's a third thread, which is a fellow by the name of Dale Robinson, who is in Huntington. He is a civic leader. And...
He's a member of city council, a successful businessman in Huntington, lives in a nice neighborhood and he, he runs for mayor and loses, but you know, he's that kind of guy. So there's like these three stories going on and they're switching back and forth. And you see Molly with Richard sometimes, but other than that, there's not much interaction. And at the very end, it brings,
the three things together and it's told in nonlinear time, we can talk about that a little bit, but basically at the very end, what is revealed is that Dale Robinson, the civic leader, is the father of Rick Fletcher, the Federal Reserve bank executive. You didn't know Molly and Dale had a relationship. Molly raised Rick without Dale. Dale just kind of, not one of his finest moments.
left Molly to raise Rick by herself. Molly's a strong woman. And then it's later revealed that me, the character you see me make this trajectory where I gave you the background of the story, I'm the son of Rick Fletcher. That whole discovery scene with Lisa is done. And now it's like, so not only is Rick Fletcher my bio dad, but the civic leader in Huntington is my grandfather.
And he's the actually the one back to basketball. He's the one, the city recreational league, which is a big deal in Huntington, was founded by Dale Robinson. So this basketball league I played in as a boy and thrived in, and I was all stars in the whole nine yards, that was founded by my grandfather. And when I was in the all-star team ceremony, at the end of my time in that rec league, I woke up to accept the trophy.
And there's Dale Robinson shaking my hand and congratulating me on a great season. He not knowing I'm his grandson. I not knowing he's my grandfather. I like that.
Where are you in the process of the book? Yeah, so I am just about finished with the entire rough draft, and it's a strong rough draft. While I'm doing the rough draft, I've got an editor that's going through now, from starting at chapter one, there's about 38 chapters. She's on chapter eight or nine now. I got, like I said, two more chapters to write at the end. I'll finish that before she catches me.
And the editor is fire. I did a little homework, got a great tip from a friend I worked with, and I've just got an editor that is fire. So I'm a pretty good writer, but never wrote a novel before. I wrote like federal proposals and scientific white papers and stuff like that. So that editor really goes through, and my first...
writing of it's like, yeah, you can follow the story. It's good storytelling, but you know, I'm, it's not smooth, you know, and boy, she goes through it. And once she, once it passes through her filter, it just, it reads like a, just a really sweet, smooth professional piece of work. Cause she is a professional, I mean, she's written books and she knows the, she's experienced so. I'm fortunate to have a very good editor.
Hopefully, if everything works well, we'll have a fully edited, polished, buffed manuscript by the end of August. And I'm going to start the process in a few weeks of soliciting agents with query letters and get that rolling. Hopefully, I can get a publisher interested. If not, I will.
do whatever it takes to self-publish. I would rather go through a standard publisher route. I think, you know, I want to give that a shot first and then fall back to the self-publish. I have a Facebook page for everybody out there. Please pay attention. We'll link to it too in the show. Yeah, put a link to it, but it's real easy to get to. If you do Facebook, you know, facebook.com of course, slash.
Intersections the novel one word. So the book is named Intersections. So if you do the slash on Facebook and just make one word, Intersections the novel, here's my Facebook page. Hey, I've already got 140 followers. I'd like to get more. That will help me with getting an agent's attention. And there's a lot of people.
back in Huntington, very interested in the story. There's people in Richmond that know my siblings that are very interested in the story. And a lot of people I've worked with in Northern Virginia interested in the story. So it's got a bit of a seed. I know I'm gonna sell at least 10 books. That's right, that's right. There you go. You know, but I think the story is, you know, a little larger.
It's definitely larger than myself. It's really not, you know, as you hear me describe it, it's not just about me. I'm just one of seven main characters in this thing. It's not, I did this and I did that and I did this. That would be boring. It's really pulling these threads and putting things together and telling it non-real time. I opened the book at Richard McLeod's deathbed.
and I'm there with him and he is, this is, he's gasping for breath and it's his final day and I'm, I'm the only one left in his life and, and I'm there and letting him know, hopefully he could hear me, I think he could. What a great man he was and I didn't exactly say it this way in real life but in the book I say, you're such a great man and there's, there's just so much I want to say to you
and I forgot exactly how I put it in the book, but you're a great man, greater than you ever imagined, but I can't tell you why. And then the very last sentence of the first chapter, it's very short, says, this book will explain everything. And then it jumps, then chapter two cuts to a Sunday morning in 1962.
which the reader doesn't know, but it's the day after I'm conceived. And one of mom's girlfriends is calling her on the phone and saying, are you all right, honey? Cause you two had a fight like you wouldn't believe. And she goes, yeah, I got a headache. I drank too much, you know, the whole bit. And they laugh about the night before cause she was with him, her friend was with him. And they just chuckle about it and just go on with their lives. And so it starts there, but you don't know as the reader, that's...
what happened, and you find out later in the chapter Jane's pregnant, and Richard and Jane are excited, and the story goes from there. And then I take you up to, I'm sorry, I take you up to, remember where I told you that my wife and I decided that that ex-husband must be the biological child of Richard McLeod? I take you literally up to that, and then the story jumps back to 1928.
And what I'm doing there is now I'm telling you the backgrounds of my parents, Jane and what caused her to become anxious, dad and what caused him to have PTSD, hoarding problems. I tell his story, his environment. Also tell the story of my bio dad's environment and Molly and Molly being jilted by Dale Robinson. And she had to go to one of those maternity homes. Have you ever heard of those? Oh yeah.
She had to go to a maternity home to have my biological father and come back to Huntington and raise him as a single mom and go through all that. And I take you right up to the pool party in 1962 and show that. I stop it right when mom and her girlfriend start flirting with the fraternity boys, one of them being Rick Fletcher. And the chapter ends. And then you jump back to the DNA.
and I'm back with Lisa and I see that picture of my bio dad. And that's when you find out. Very cool. And then finally. I wanna read this book right now. And the final scene is really cool. Is that both parents are gone now because I take you through me taking care of them a little bit at the very end. And remember open with the scene of my dad dying, which is true. And I delivered the eulogy for.
Their eulogy was done together because of COVID and everything. I, and I knew my dad was dying. We're going to do one service for both of them. Same time. They were married 62 years. Uh, uh, we're going to do one service and, um, and basically, um, um, I give a pretty darn good eulogy I'm told. And, and it's almost like an abbreviation of the book that, that, that part of the book where I'm talking about their background.
is taken from that eulogy. And at the very end of the book, the very last scene as I'm filing out, I go over to the last pew on the left to talk to these people. And it's basically my bio dad, two brothers and sister who went to the eulogy. Oh wow. To make sure that, you know, to give appreciation to the two that raised one of their own.
That's how it ends. That's a great ending. That'll be cool. Yeah. In real life, my sister and niece were there and they hid in the back. They came from Richmond to be there. If BioDad could have been there, but he couldn't, 80 years old COVID, he would have been there in a heartbeat. But in the book, I'm going to put them all there. That's another reason why you want to do it in auto fiction. Right.
That's the lay down of the book. The editor's excited. I'm excited. I can't wait to get this thing out. Excellent. Well, you're a great storyteller, Gene. So I know I can already tell the book is going to be good. And just spending this last hour or so with you, I think Kenil and I can both agree that you seem like a pretty great guy. And if anybody's deserving of two families, it's someone like you.
Thank you. It's it's and I'm here in Richmond and I live 10 minutes from my sister now and like you guys went to New England, but the reason why I'm Richmond is because my daughter because she went to Virginia Commonwealth landed here and she married and we have a grandchild. So that's really why we're in Richmond. But so my daughter's 15 minutes away in another direction.
But it just so happens where I'm landed, I'm 10 minutes away from my sister. I'm 15 minutes away from my sister, and I'm 10 minutes away from my brother. That's amazing. So I see them all the time. And yeah, it's just wonderful. Yeah, my local brother's daughter graduates from high school tonight. So we're headed over. Yep, we're headed over another beautiful thing about living so close to them. And yeah, get to go see.
you know, a bunch of people tonight. So it'll be great. Yeah. And then face-to-face is so much better than what we're doing now or the telephone. And get that, get that together part is, is a lot, a lot to be said for that. For sure. Absolutely. Well, you'll have to keep in touch with us and let us know what's happening with the book because when the book does get published, we'd love to have you back on. You got it. That's a deal. Yeah. Cool.
I don't even have to check with my people on that. That's a deal. Thank you. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.
All right, Corey and Kendall, my best to you. Thank you. Have a good time tonight. Thank you. Reach out if you need me. We will. Thank you so much for listening to Family Twist. We feature original music by Cosmic Afterthoughts and Family Twist is presented by Savoir Faire Marketing Communications. Check out our website at FamilyTwistPodcast.com for blog posts and all of our episodes.