I was the result of a high school fling. My mother was 16 when she got pregnant with me, my father was 18. She didn’t tell him about my existence until after I was already born, and what followed was a few months of confusion as each tried to figure out what they were going to do, and started to rearrange their life plans to somehow make things work.
Then, almost exactly four months after I was born, my mother (17 at the time) went to a homecoming party. She never came home. That night she was killed in a car accident. My father, who had never had contact with my family (just my mom) disappeared from my life completely.
As I grew up the only thing I knew about him was his name and the fact that he had joined the military after I was born. Otherwise, I was basically an orphan. I was raised by my grandmother, who was also taking care of my uncle. We never got along too well–I was just too different from the rest of the family–so I didn’t really connect with anybody, and even though I was and still am close to my grandma we’ve never really had a parent/child relationship.
As I discovered the internet I started to regularly look for anything I could find out about my dad. It was mostly curiosity–I just wanted to see what he was up too, if he had married, if I had siblings, even just a picture of him would have satisfied my curiosity. But year after year, I found absolutely nothing. The only picture I had of him was a cutting from my local newspaper, from his time in the military.
That all changed about a year and a half ago, when I did yet another random search and who should turn up but my dad’s name, right at the top of the search results. I, of course, did the most logical thing and friend requested him. (I was way too shy and freaked out by the situation to send him a message. It was more a way of saying ‘hey, here I am’.)
I got a message from him right back saying “We need to talk”. So we started to e-mail back and forth, standard getting to know you stuff. He never stated outright that he was my father, even though it was obvious he wasn’t denying anything. I wasn’t certain anything would even come of it and even asked my friends several times “Do you think I’ll ever actually meet my dad?”
Then, a few days before Thanksgiving in 2010, I’m hanging out on the computer when I get a message through Facebook. My dad wanted to know if I wanted to meet up for dinner, as he was going to be in town over the holidays visiting his parents and brothers. (He actually lives in another country now.) I nervously say “Sure”.
The greatest moment ever was also the most terrifying. We agreed to meet up at a coffee shop and I’m just sitting there, waiting, freaked out of my mind. I hear this voice from behind me say “Jennifer?”
Then the minute I get up and say hello he just gives me this hug like he’s never going to let go. Then after dinner and a long (awkward) talk, as he sends me on my way, he hugs me again and says “You’re going to see me again. And we’ll keep in touch. You may even get sick of hearing from me so much.”
It’s five and a half years later now and we still talk all the time. He helped me financially get back into college, and has finally started calling himself my dad. So I went from being an orphan to having a parent, for the first time in my life, at the age of 23.
Greatest feeling ever.
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