Hello, lovely friends
I know its been a minute or two, so I have a lot to talk about.
First, because I have to, let me tell you about one of the most incredible things to ever happen to me. This is a SUPER personal story, one I’ve told many, many times over my life, but a few months ago, it got a new ending. In a week or so, I will actually blog about work, but not today.
In order for me to tell it, I’m going to try and be considerate of all the people involved, while telling it from my personal perspective. Its not meant to be anything except the story of Me and my Dad,
So I have to start way back in the late 70’s;
My mother was married to her first of 3 husbands, R, and they had 2 sons, Chad and Nathan. They had been having some problems in their marriage and were on rocky ground. My mother got pregnant with me and I *believe* they were separated by the time I was born, and eventually got a divorce.
I grew up with my mom, a single mother, and was always told that R was my biological father. I saw him often when he dropped my brothers off for the weekend. He was never rude or mean to me, but he told me for as long as I could remember, that I was not his daughter. Being a kid, and only having my mother as a resource, I thought he was just being a dick. I never felt connected to him, so I was always in a state of confusion when he was around. I want to re-iterate, R was never unkind to me, just matter-of-fact with our relation to each other.
(side note-I just want to add that I had many amazing uncles in my life, and still do, that were more than happy to love me and guide me and let me give them my school-made fathers day cards over my childhood. Without them, I don’t know what I would have done)
Fast forward to 1995; for various reasons that I wont get into, I was asked to do a DNA test with R.
So I did, 100% thinking it would prove that he was my dad and then we would move on from there.
You can imagine my surprise when the test came back, and he wasn’t my biological father. I had no idea that was even a possibility. I was completely blindsided, and mostly devastated because it meant my brothers were only ‘half’.
At that age, at that time, it ruined me. I felt betrayed and lied to, and I felt sorrow for all the time I had lost.
Again, my friends and family helped me through it and when my mother told me my real Dad was a guy named Ian, I couldn’t wait to meet him and try to have this father-daughter relationship that I had wanted my whole life.
The 4 months from when I got the results back, to when I tearfully called Ian, were torture. I couldn’t understand why my mother wouldn’t phone him and let him know about me. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine what that looked like for her, either; having to call a guy 17 years after ‘dating’.
I carried his phone number in my back pocket every day, for over 100 days.
Through a series of dramatic events, it all came down to a little road trip to Vancouver, to meet up with my mother and go to meet my Dad.
We met. It was clumsy and uncomfortable. His wife was there, and TBH, she didn’t care for me, or the situation.
We spent time together only a few times over the next 2-3 years; always painful and awkward and terrible. It was not the relationship I had hoped for. Over the years he began to avoid me all together. I called him to tell him when Jeff and I got pregnant, hoping the thought of a grandchild might soften his heart and he would let us in. It didn’t.
When we got pregnant with our second son, I tried again, but to no avail. He wasn’t interested in connecting with me at all, or my kids.
In 2014, I had recently become a stay at home mom and found myself slipping into a bad space (in hindsight, maybe a bit of PPD)
I reached out again, *one last time* and Ian told me in a very straightforward way, that he didn’t want me to ever contact him again. He didn’t have any other kids and he didn’t want any.
I hit what became my rock-bottom.
I felt helpless and unloved and lost, for I had two parents that were letting me down- not willing to work on building a healthy, loving relationship with me.
I was talking on the phone with Jeff one night, crying mostly, about how sad I was and how I *just needed to do something else. I needed to leave the fucking house and not drag my 2 toddlers along. I needed to have adult conversations and be creative and bring home some money and, most importantly, feel good about my life again.
With his blessing and encouragement, I signed up for photo school at SAIT.
I had no idea what the outcome was going to be, but I knew it would be something; something I truly loved and something that made my heart happy, and something I knew I could get better at.
I saw a therapist and she helped me get through that rough time. I didn’t realize how much it helped until I was at school a few months later, chatting with other photo-nerds, and realized I felt good. Like better than I had felt in a long time. The cloud had lifted and I took a hard look at it-I came to understand that I need to be creative to be happy. I need to, for my heart, soul, and mental health.
So I carried on, and as you know, I’ve been busting my butt, Mom-ing hard, and doing what I love and living a pretty happy life.
The thing is, I never had proof that Ian was my Dad. I had asked him to take a test with me 5 years ago and at first he had agreed, but eventually said he didn’t care enough to make it happen. I really wanted proof.
So here we fucking go;
I was gifted an Ancestry.com test for Christmas, and sent it in. The results came back reasonably quick, and low and be-fucking-hold, there aint no Ian, or his family, in my tree.
I couldn’t eat, sleep, or function well for about 5 days. My brain was broken, my stomach was in knots, my heart hurt, and I was in shock.
Jeff arrived home the next day and thank god-he was there to keep the house running while *Mommy had a melt down* and also, to be my moral support. I am lucky to have friends and family that were with me through this shit-show when I was 16, and now again at 40. My support team was huge and unwavering, I could not be more blessed.
So, through the ancestry site I was connected with a second cousin, Lisa. I shared with her a bit of my story and let her know I was (desperately) looking for my Dad. She put me in touch with another gal, Alyson, who is a “DNA-angel’.
Alyson had found lost family through a DNA test as well and spent her life helping others to find theirs. She truly is an angel, and without her, none of this would have happened.
So we connect and I let her know as much as I could and she did her thing. For 5 or 6 weeks, I was on edge, constantly looking at the site to see what other information she was adding to my family tree. It was excruciating, because I was so scared I had missed him. What if he had passed on? What if I missed my chance?
I had obviously gone over in my head, the scenario in which I find him, hes alive, and he doesn’t want anything to do with me. Everyone kept warning me about this possibility, as all I could say was “well, I lived through that. Twice. I could do it again, if I had to”
Finally, sweet mother of god, finally Alyson contacts me. She gets me on my laptop and explains to me whats going on. In the weeks previous, I had seen my Dads name on my tree, but wasn’t even looking at him as a candidate. Ancestry has its own algorithms and had showed me a girl, Sam, living in Australia, as my cousin. I had contacted her and let her know what was going on. I was convinced that one of her uncles was my dad. But she didn’t have any uncles, and there was some messy adoption stories from her mothers side of the family. I thought I had hit a dead end, until the day Alyson called.
She had done all the work to find out that Ancestry had gotten it wrong; Sam wasn’t my cousin, but in fact my niece. Her grandpa Al in Kamloops (my hometown) was my Dad. Sams mother, Ann, is my half-sister. (another dream come true)
Sam had contacted her grandpa (my dad) to let him know that there was a girl looking to ‘fill in some gaps’ on her family tree. He and his wife, Terrie, told Sam to give me their phone number and for me to call anytime, as they were eager to help me.
I went on Facebook and sought out any info I could- my Dad is not on Facebook, but his wife is. So I did the thing, you know, stalking? (lol) and combed through her photos, until finally… I saw my Dad.
I messaged her immediately and (without being specific) told her I was looking for information about my family. She told me that her husband Al knew quite a bit about the family and had an amazing memory, and that he would be able to answer any questions I had. I promised to call the next day.
I had his phone number. I knew his name and what he looked like.
I was in such a state of shock, I didn’t know what to do with myself; so I promptly drank a glass of wine, called everyone I knew, cried my eyes out, and danced around my kitchen. Weird right? Whatever.
And here it is;
I barely slept. I woke up and just tried not to have a mental breakdown. I considered every possibility; the good, the bad, and the ugly. I told myself that I would be ok no matter what, because I had already been through the worst. I felt like nothing, nothing could be more awful than going through what I had already, for 40 years.
So I pick up the phone and I call him. He answers, as hes expecting my call, and is gracious and kind, right off the hop.
I ask him a few questions to confirm that he is my Dad (as Alyson had recommended) and then got right into it;
I asked him if he knew a woman with my mothers name, he said he did. (and he kind of chuckled when he said ‘I know her very well” lol)
He told me he used to spend time with her and a large group of friends in a small town, just outside Kamloops. He knew she had been married but didn’t know about any children. I told him that she was my mother, and that the research Alysson had done shows that He, in fact, was my father.
He said “what? Who’s your father?’
I laughed and said “you are!”
He said “when were you born?’
I told him, and he laughed as well, because his memory is so frigging sharp, even at 72, that he knows hes my Dad.
So we had a short conversation and then he asked me to call him back in a few hours. My heart sank and I thought ‘what if this is it? What if he decides he doesn’t want this and he never answers the phone again when I call’?
I hung up, cried, laughed, freaked out, and waited a few hours to call him back.
When I did, he answered (THANK GODDD!!) and I could hear him smiling. I asked how he was, and if he was ok with all of this.
“this is the best day of my life; my family just grew by 5”
Cue. The. Fucking. Tears.
We talked for quite awhile, covering a lot of ground; I asked him about his relationship with my mother, his childhood, his wife, and anything else I could think of.
He asked me questions too; what was my favorite color, food, drink, place to travel. What kind of music do I like?
It was magnificent. He was there, and he was happy, and he loved me already.
We made plans to meet up a few weeks later when Jeff got home from work. And we did.
Jeff and I packed up the ol’ Mini van and drove 7 hours to my hometown. We spent the night with one of my child hood friends (Christine-I cannot thank you enough) who had been there for me when I was 16 as well. We woke up, left the kids at Chris’s house, and drove down to my dads.
We met at his front door and I didn’t even cry. I hugged him as hard as I could, I looked into his eyes and saw my other half; the half that had been missing my whole life. The other human who created me, who I was half of.
There’s no way I can adequately describe my feelings-I was overwhelmed and honestly, probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. He wears hats like me, too, which is cute AF.
We went to his neighborhood pub, alone, so we could have a talk and drink a cider together. The waitress brought over flowers and a card, (as my Dad had been in earlier that day to arrange everything for me as a surprise) He also gave me a hat belt (? Is that what they’re called?) to match his, so we could be twinnsies. (ARE. YOU. KIDDING.ME. RIGHT. NOW?)
We sat and ate and laughed and told each other straight up, what our lives were like. All of it. We talked about jobs and childhood and lost loves and how my Dad was a boxer, and a pretty damn good one, and he could probably knock out your Dad, to be honest. (;))
We went for a drive and shared a cigar and listened to music and he took me back to his place, where Jeff and the kids were waiting with my new step mom, Terrie.
We all cried and hugged told stories and drank ciders and laughed and laughed and laughed.
It was one of the best days of my entire life. I can’t put it into words, there are none to describe it.
My kids call him grandpa. He and Jeff love each other. Terrie is a wonderful woman who has welcomed all of us with open arms and a big heart.
It couldn’t have gone any better, even in my dreams.
Since then, we spent some more time together, and we chat almost every day, sending photos and heart emojis.
Ill be driving out to Kamloops over the summer with my kids so we can stay with him and Terrie and most likely, share more stories and laughs.
My Dad is kind, honest, funny, and hardworking. He likes adventure and music and sharing love.
And the best part? He wants to be my Dad. He wants to be a grandpa to my kids, a father in law to Jeff. He wants us to be a family.
I called him on Sunday, fathers’ day.
For the very first time in my life, I called my MF Dad on fathers’ day, and had a beautiful, loving conversation. wow.
Here’s to many more…
Love you Dad, thanks for being everything I ever wanted, and more than I could have hoped for.
See how everything just works out? My previous situation with Ian led me to becoming a photographer. Everything happens for a reason, right?
I will blog in the next week or so, to actually talk about work stuff, but I had to get this story out first. Its just too good not to share :)
Chat again soon, my lovelies, please don’t hesitate to share this and spread the love