Prior to this post I have only shared this information with Whynot and my SIL, who is like a mother to me.
Yesterday's news of a new book about Walter 'Sweetness' Payton reminded me of how saddened, angry and confused I was when several years ago I read that letter.
It came in that tell tale European envelope with Air Mail stamped on the front and foreign stamps attached to the upper right hand corner. At first I thought it was a letter from my Ciocia in Poland, but it was addressed to me in my maiden name. Odd, I thought. She knows my correct name.
I turned the envelope over and saw an unfamiliar woman's name with an address in Germany. I didn't think I had any relatives in Germany.
I opened the envelope and stared at the papers in front of me. It was hand written in English.
As I continued reading, a sickening feeling formed in the pit of my stomach. This woman stated her name and birth date, she went on to mention her mother's name and the town in Germany where she was born. She wrote that she knew I was the daughter of Jan Kaminski, born in Poland and the year he was born. She also knew that he was in the army at the time of World War II. This was getting very eerie.
She claimed that as a soldier, my father, Jan Kaminski, and her mother produced a child during the war and she was that child. That I was her half sister.
My head started to spin! I thought I was going to throw up. My father had died years before this so I couldn't ask him if this was true.
My parents didn't meet and marry until 1959, so it was not a matter of infidelity and yet this letter was very upsetting to me.
I read and reread the letter and then it hit me, the one tiny detail that was incorrect! I realized that it was very possible that her claim was a lie and this woman was probably trying to scam me in some way.
I called Whynot and cried over the phone, he told me not to worry. His standard response. I called my SIL who was far more sympathetic. I asked her to please not tell my mother, she didn't need to get all worked up over this.
I destroyed the letter and didn't think much of it until I read in today's paper about a newly released book about Walter. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but we own several items autographed by 'Sweetness'. His first Chicago area home was across the street from my SIL's aunt and uncle and there are several pictures of my SIL and him in the neighborhood. She still speaks of a kind man who always stopped to wave and say hello to neighbors.
#34 was human and therefore not perfect. His wife Connie knew of the infidelity, the wife always knows. But Brittney and Jarrett didn't deserve to have the image of their father tarnished. The man is a football legend and to profit from his story when you don't understand the demons he was fighting is just flat out wrong.