Your Cousins



In Nikko, August 7, 2018


Dear Lili,

I don’t know if you’re reading this blog or not. I like to think that maybe you are, and that you’re just trying to decide what to make of it (and me). After all, I guess you don’t really know me as you once did.

You should know that several of your cousins have been trying to get in touch with you. I can’t tell you now why they haven’t been able to do so for legal reasons, but if you want to know that truth of what’s been happening, I’ll be more than happy to explain things to you.

Just know that your American family has not abandoned you. We’re all still hopping to one day be a part of your life.

Love always,

Your Dad

Dear Lili,

I can hardly believe that it was 20 years ago this evening that I was sitting in the waiting room at Keio Hospital awaiting your birth. How is it possible that today, you are no longer a child, but an adult? And me? I’m a 60-year-old man now, planning my retirement.

I wish I could have watched you grow up all these years. I wish I could have taught you how to ride a bicycle, and taken you camping in the mountains, and seen you graduate from junior high school, and comfort you the first time some boy broke your heart. I wish I could have done a lot of things, but that was not to be. The reason why I guess you’ll come to understand in time now that you’ve become an adult.

But for now, my only hope is that you will believe that I would have been a part of your life if I could have, and that I tried with everything I could to be a part of your life. Your father never walked away from you. I am still here, and I’m still waiting for you after all of these years to pick up the phone and call, to send me an email, or to knock on my door.

And for now, I will keep posting notes in this blog, like messages in bottles that I cast out onto the tides in hopes that one day they will reach you, and one day you will know that your father never forgot about you, and that the father you once knew and loved is still the same, and that for him, his love for you has never changed.

Happy 20th Birthday, Sweetheart.

You are always in my heart!

Love always,

Your Dad

P.S. Here’s the only gift I can give you now — a song.




(Updated April 5, 2018)


Dear Lili,

I’ve been working on genealogy research for quite a long time now. Through my own investigations, interviews with family members, and lucky connections with distant relatives who provided me with a lot of new information, I have been able to put together a fairly extensive family tree for our family. I can trace our ancestors back, in my case 12 generations and in your case 13 generations. As of April 5, 2018, I’ve learned that our oldest known ancestors are a couple from Sweden named Olof Aegidius Laurenti Giers born in 1583 and Ebba Gyllenax born in 1584! 

I’m attaching your ancestor chart, in PDF and png formats, which I will update periodically when I get new information. (You can enlarge this chart in both formats to read it more easily.) This chart will give you a pretty good idea of who you are and where you came from. There’s a lot more detailed information that I have about your ancestors, but for now, this is a good start!

Love always,

Your Dad

Ancestor Chart Liliana Del Vecchio




Dear Lili,

In another post, I told you about your noble lineage. You are descended from Christoph Beetz von Beetzen, an Imperial Knight of the Holy Roman Empire (higher nobility). His title is inherited by all heirs, male and female, meaning that you are a Dame (and I am a Sir).

Here are the details:

Christoph (alt: Christoffer) Beetz (May 1, 1670, Swedish Pomerania – April 18, 1746, Stralsund) was ennobled by Emperor Charles VI in Vienna, Austria on 27 January 1734 as “Beez von Beezen” (Beetz von Beetzen) after receiving an heritable membership of the old class of the Holy Roman Empire (higher nobility). His military career is highlighted by his command of a regiment at the age of 20 and his final appointment as Swedish Platz-Major and Stabs-Major of the military garrison in Stralsund. He was ranked with the same duties as a Stadt-General. His 1746 portrait still graces the interior of Saint Mary’s Church, Stralsund, Germany (German: Kirche St. Marien zu Stralsund) where he is buried.

Letters patent of Christoph Beetz von Beetzen

According to the letters patent of January 27, 1734, now in the Österreichisches Staatsarchiv in Vienna, the nobility and the title Knight of the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsritter) is inherited by “all his present and future legitimate posterity, and their heirs’ heirs, men and women in descending line, in infinity” (‘Ihn sambt allen seinem jezigen und künftigen ehelichen Leibs-Erben und derenselben Erbens-Erben, Mann- und Weibs-Personen, absteigenden Stammens’). According to Codex Austriacus (ed. Herrenleben, S.G., Wien 1748, pars III, Suppl. I, 1720, page 953, 954) both daughters and sons inherited in Austria after 1720, so the reference “all his present and future legitimate posterity, and their heirs’ heirs” refer, according to Austrian law at the time, to both men and women when the letters patent was issued in 1734. This was also understood and underlined by the addition “men and women in descending line in infinity”. This pattern for hereditary nobility is called ‘cognatic succession’.

The claim that the noble rank could sometimes be inherited cognaticly is not undisputed; according to another view all noble titles are inherited agnatically. According to this view, the true meaning of “all his present and future legitimate posterity, and their heirs’ heirs, men and women in descending line, in infinity” refer only to men. This statement is understood as a standard formulation in all letters patent – it is not unique for the family von Beezen. The noble daughters married into other families and their children inherited the title belonging to their father. According to this view no one inherits a title from both the mother and the father in European culture.

However, this view is contradicted by the fact that there are many undisputed examples of cognatic succession for both male and female descendants, as in the letters patent of nobility issued by Charles VII in December 1429 to Jeanne d’Arc and all her family’s descendants, as well as the title Baron (or Count) Arundell of Wardour according to the letters patent issued by Rudolf II in Prague December 14, 1595 for Thomas Arundell and all his descendants, men as well as women. The more common pattern for hereditary nobility, when only men can forward nobility to their children, is called agnatic succession.

(from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christof_Beetz)



Here’s your exact line from Sir Beetz von Beetzen to yourself:


So from now on, all of your friends have to refer to you as Dame Liliana Del Vecchio!

Miss you every day! You are always in my heart.

Love always,


 ♥ You were the cutest kid in Tokyo! ♥


Dear Lili,

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. It’s hard to believe that the last time we spent a Christmas together was in 2004, 13 years ago.

I wish I could see you, but understand that for me, nothing has changed. You’re still my daughter. Always have been. Always will be. And I’m your only father. Always have been. Always will be.

Just understand that anytime you choose to knock on the door, it will be opened for you. Anytime you send me a text, I’l answer you. And anytime you seek me out, my arms will be flung wide open for you.

Looking forward to the day when we can say Merry Christmas to each other face to face.

Until then, know that:

You are always in my heart.

Love forever,

Daddy ❤ ❤ ❤

These parent-child reunion stories tug at a very special place in my heart. “Don’t lose hope.” How many times have I had to say that to myself over these past 13 years? Dum spiro spero.