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Author Topic: What A Difference!  (Read 1085 times)


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What A Difference!
« on: Aug 06, 2004, 08:09:23 AM »
Posted on Fri, Aug. 06, 2004


Separated. 48 years of wondering. Then the phone rang.


Staff Writer

For 48 years, he wondered about Rodney, what kind of life he was having, what kind of son he was becoming, then what kind of man. All these years, says Bill Chastain. The regret never went away.

He was 25 years old when his wife, Dorothy, left Charlotte for Albuquerque, N.M., with their son and another man. Rodney was 2 years old then. His father wanted to stay in contact. His mother wanted a fresh start from a rocky marriage. It was 1956.

Chastain remarried, eventually, and had five more boys. He thought about Rodney each year on his birthday, but also on days the family grilled in the back yard or took a trip together. He tried, too, to look for his son, but Dorothy had remarried and moved to other places.

He didn't know, then, that Rodney had asked about him as a youngster but learned little. He didn't know when Rodney Landis joined the Air Force and was stationed in Charleston, or that he married and had three children, or that he settled in Arizona, or that he cried when his grandbabies came into the world.

Rodney also thought about his father, especially on Father's Day, including this year when he called his stepfather in Pennsylvania to wish him a good day. His mother got on the phone then. She told him she had just been through Charlotte that week and had talked to his biological father. She took his telephone number.

On the phone, she gave it to her son.

He called Charlotte that day.

"My name's Rodney," he said to his father. "I want to wish you a happy Father's Day."

They talked for a long while, each stopping to cry more than once. Rodney laughed about his father now having three more grandchildren -- and seven great-grandchildren. Bill laughed about his son now having five younger half-brothers. He also said he was sorry, and that he and Rodney's mother were young and incompatible, but that he wished he had been a better husband and father.

He drove to Tucson, Ariz., two weeks later to spend 10 days with Rodney's family and begin to recover 48 years. He learned that his son tests aircraft generators for Honeywell, and that like his father he dotes on his lawn, and that like his father he values doing a job the best he can.

And also this: "There was an empty space in his life," said Bill Chastain, "and an empty space in mine."

On Thursday, he stood in the baggage claim area at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. His wife, Iris, joined him, along with an assortment of sons and brothers. Later, they planned to take Rodney and his wife, Sue, to meet Rodney's 90-year-old grandmother, who all these years has kept a small photo of the boy at 6 months old.

All these years.

"Here he comes," Chastain said, pointing toward the escalator.

Rodney came down first. He hugged a brother, then an uncle, then a sister-in-law, then finally his father. A newfound family. Another chance.

"This is such a good feeling," he said softly into his father's ear. Bill Chastain said nothing. He couldn't. So they held on a little longer.

Posted on Fri, Aug. 06, 2004
Photo helps locate N.C. child missing 4 years

Associated Press

MOBILE, Ala. - A 6-year-old North Carolina boy who had been missing for four years has been found living with his father, with the help of tipster who had seen a computer-enhanced picture of the child at a Web site.

Nicolas Dipietro vanished from his home in Sanford, N.C., on July 27, 2000. Authorities said the child's father, John Frederick Dipietro, took him without permission.

The mother, Dana Reece, had been searching for him ever since, with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

On Thursday, the child was found in a trailer home in west Mobile.

An age-enhanced image of the boy on the missing children center's Web site prompted someone in Mobile to call police with suspicions about the child's identity, said Assistant District Attorney Steve Giardini. He said the enhanced photo was "amazing" in its accuracy.

On the Web site, Nicolas' age and other statistics are displayed, along with the information that he "may be in the company of his non-custodial father. They may have traveled out of state to meet an adult female. Nicolas uses the nickname Nico. He has a birthmark on the back of his neck and dimples on his cheeks."

Giardini said the elder Dipietro, a restaurant worker, was away at his job when police officers found Nicolas with Dipietro's common-law wife and removed him. He was taken to Mobile County's Child Advocacy Center.

The prosecutor said Nicholas was being home-schooled. "You can imagine why that would be," he said.

After a night in a foster home the boy was to be reunited with his mother on Friday. She was traveling to Mobile from North Carolina.

Deborah Brady, a caseworker with the missing children's center in Alexandria, Va., said the child will not recognize his mother right away.

"It's very possible he won't have any clear memories of her," Brady said, but a favorite toy, or a photo of them together will help.

"They will find a way," Brady said. "She is his mother. And he is her son."

Prosecutors said they were unaware of any charges in the case.


Information from: The Mobile Register



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