By Camille Mercogliano
My husband and I have been married for 20 years. We started coming out to Davis Park 25 years ago and purchased our home approximately 15 years ago. We have two children, a 16-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. About the time our son was born, we met Frank and Maria, who bought the house next to ours. We became friendly with them over time. Maria and my husband, Gino, coincidentally come from the same small town in Italy. They like to share stories and recipes.
Tragically, Frank died in a horrific car accident five years ago. Maria started asking Gino for help with things around the beach house. Of course we were readily available to help in any way that we could, for she doesn’t have family nearby and they never had children. Gino started spending more and more time over at Maria’s fixing things or helping her manage finances.
Two years ago, Maria came out to the beach for the new season and was pregnant. She told me that she and Frank had always dreamed of having a child, but it was never the right time, so they froze their sperm and eggs so they would always have the option to have children later on when it was more convenient. The last two years I have seen this baby boy, Antonio (which happens to be the name of Maria’s deceased father, but also my husband Gino’s father’s name), grow into a beautiful young boy. She keeps asking my daughter to babysit and my son to play with him on the beach. Gino is always in favor of this.
Not long ago I was looking at old photo books and it occurred to me that baby Antonio looks exactly like our boy at that age. Two weeks ago a person on the beach said to my husband, “The baby looks just like you; he has your exact eyes and dimple.” My husband laughed and said, “Oh he’s my neighbor’s son.” My stomach immediately became a knot. I asked my husband as to why people think Antonio looks like him and he just laughed and told me I was crazy. I even remarked how he looks like our son and he said to me, “You are really starting to lose it!”
Do I have any right to feel anxious, upset or betrayed? It’s gotten to the point that I’m completely obsessed about this and I’m unable to sleep at night. I feel like I’m going crazy. Please help me to solve this problem before I go insane.
Dear Crazed Cathy,
I can understand your anxiety in this situation. Of course you have the right to feel any of your feelings. That does not make you crazy, it makes you human. You certainly don’t sound as though you’ve jumped to any conclusions. Rather, it is only more recently that you began to pick up signs that maybe things were not right.
My first piece of advice would be to speak directly to your husband and share your concerns, which you already did. His response seems to be more hurtful to you than helpful. You also said that you are close to Maria. Why not sit down with her and tell her what you’re thinking and why? Everything is always in the presentation. Do not march over to her and accuse her of anything. Try to go over when you feel that you can remain calm and tell her that you need to speak to her about something very important.
You can start by telling her that you notice a new relationship between her and Gino, a closer more comfortable relationship. Explain that this has actually left you feeling less comfortable around her or the two of them together. Let her know that recently people have been commenting on how much her child resembles your husband and son. Show her your son’s baby picture. Watch her reaction. Although you can’t hold her to anything simply by how she reacts to you, it certainly may be an indicator as to whether or not you are on the right track.
If you still feel as though your husband may be the father, approach him again. While it is risky perhaps, even go as far as asking him to help put your mind at ease by supplying a DNA sample. If he refuses or expresses indignation, calmly explain how strongly you feel and how upset you’ve been. However if he agrees and it turns out he is not the father of this child, your lack of trust in him could cause a rift between you … but it sounds like the rift is already there.
In the meantime, try to remain calm, and use this time to decide how you will handle the situation if the results confirm your worst fears. Before you jump to any conclusions, remember Gino and Maria do come from the same small town in Italy … maybe there is a family lineage or a naturally occurring resemblance.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The names and Fire Island community in question have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned in this letter. Do you agree with the advice Camirose gave to Crazed Cathy? Need advice about a Fire Island problem of your own? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.