By Alex Heigl / People
January 22, 2015

Throughout his life, Tony Trapani wanted to have kids.

As might then be imagined, when he met his son for the first time on Monday – Trapani is now 81 – it was quite an experience.

Trapani was cleaning out his Grand Rapids, Michigan, home after his wife’s death when he came across a letter she’d hidden in a file cabinet. Sent in 1959, the letter was from a woman claiming to be the mother of Trapani’s son.

“I have a little boy,” the letter read. “He is five years old now. What I’m trying to say, Tony, is he is your son. He was born November 14, 1953.”

That little boy is Samuel Childress, now 61. Childress said that his mother told him she’d sent the letter to his father but gave up hope of ever hearing from him.

Trapani suspects his wife hid the letter because of their trouble conceiving a child. “Why my wife didn’t tell me,” he told Michigan’s Fox 17. “I don’t know. She wanted children. She couldn’t have any. She tried and tried.”

Childress, who grew up in Pennsylvania, said, “Just to know him now is so important to me. It’s going to fill that void.”

The family plans to have a paternity test performed to make sure of the results.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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