Dear Dad: A Letter to the Father I Never Met
I would be lying if I said I haven’t been waiting for this moment my entire life. Who’d have imagined that after 30 years on this planet – 30 revolutions around the sun – I would finally find you?
Naturally, there is much you probably need to be caught up to speed on. I won’t go too much into detail, you'll be lucky if I scrape the surface, but here’s the gist of it:
I lived with my mom, grandma and aunt during my youngest years. My grandpa left us after transplanting us from Florida to southern New Mexico. I’ve learned over time that this was a good thing, but that is a story for another letter.
My mom met a man named Victor and fell in love. Not immediately after arriving; it was more of an eventual thing, but it happened. She quickly became pregnant with my sister, Veronica, and in what seemed like a whirlwind of events, was married. I gained a step brother, JD, and a few years later came my youngest sister, Catarina. We had come a long way from being a single mom with a singular daughter. All of this brought forth a plethora of new emotions. I felt:
· Cast aside
· A small sense of hope that it would MAYBE be alright.
I was a dramatic child. What can I say?
Victor wasn’t the best father. Well, that’s not fair to say. I suppose I hardly gave him much of a chance. I had a difficult time giving him my trust. To this day I still can't tell you why I harbored so much disdain for the poor man. Those feelings only began to subside in my early 20's. We could drink together after all! I finally came to terms with the fact that I would probably never know you, my real dad, and Victor was the only one I had ever known.
He’d done his best for us, I thought. He raised us. Except for when he was gone – which was quite a bit near the end.
In fairness, I had long moved out of the house when it all happened. When we learned of the many affairs, the drugs, and all of the lies. He left my mother and family torn apart. It was a cataclysm of an end to an era.
Don’t worry, though! We all pulled through it. My mom happily remarried, and he is…off doing his own thing.
Now, before you start to think it was all bad, please know: it wasn’t.
We went camping, had fun vacations, I played sports and music, and there was plenty of love and laughs to be had. We were poor, sure, but we made it work.
Fast forward to recent years:
When I was 21, I had a son and named him Parker. His father left, but we’re fine. It was a little tumultuous at times, and a little scary when money was really scarce, but we managed to get through the thick of it almost completely intact. Parker is 8 years old now. He is so incredibly smart, sensitive, and a total goofball. I think you two would get along great.
When Parker was 3, and after a slew of incompatible men in my life, I met Chris. You'd love him, trust me. He's the perfect mixture of respectful gentleman, hardworking creative, and wisecracking smart-ass. We fell very quickly in love (after I left him hanging for over a year), and after a year, I fell pregnant with our daughter, Charlotte. Man, what a firecracker that child is! She’ll be 3 this year; isn’t it incredible how quickly time flies?
While I was pregnant, I started my college education. Somehow, through an infant daughter who very, very quickly transitioned into toddlerhood, and planning a wedding, I finished school. My husband, kiddos, and practically all of my immediate family on my mom’s side cheered for me as I received my diploma; it was one of the proudest moments of my life. I like to credit it all to my determination and smarts, but honestly, had I not had my husband constantly reassuring me when it all felt like too much, and for the future of my kids, I might not have made it through. Now I work as a computer technician for our local County government. It’s a pretty sweet gig.
I’ve been rambling, I apologize. You probably want to know how we got to this point! How in the hell did I finally find you, Dad?
My wonderful, thoughtful husband gifted me one of those nifty DNA tests a few Mothers’ Days ago. He knew how much I wanted to know about my heritage, so I gleefully spit into a tube and sent it away for some testing.
After receiving my results I learned that:
1. I have a heavy Welsh heritage.
2. Had many close cousins on the website that I had never met.
Ding ding ding! Jackpot. I knew that they HAD to be your family.
I messaged several of them and asked about you with the vague knowledge that I had. I knew you had worked in your parent’s donut shop. I knew where it was in Florida. I knew your name MIGHT be Chris, but it’s not something that I told any of them. I had this strange fear that they might think I was only after you for money, and I didn’t want an immediate rejection. Upon receiving the information I gave them, one after another shrugged their shoulders, and bade me good luck on my search.
After this same song and dance for roughly a year, I accepted defeat.
Just this January (2018), I received a message from a woman who found that we were a close DNA match and was very interested in figuring out how we were related. Fair enough. I gave her my usual vague spiel, but didn’t hear back. My mom urged me to add in a few more details, so I did. In a final message, I added the name I knew to be yours – Chris Anderson – and a phone number she could reach me at.
It was that night I spoke to my Ann and Jerry; my grandma and grandpa…your mom and dad. It was that night, as I sat lazily on the couch next to my gently snoring husband that I learned you were no longer living. That you’ve been gone for nearly 10 years now. You never knew about me, never married, and never had children that you knew of.
The discovery brought about many emotions; grief, frustration, relief and closure were the top hitters. I blamed myself for not finding you sooner. I told myself that you would be alive had I found you years ago. I know none of it had anything to do with my presence, and I knew it was because you were very sick, but I struggled with it.
I still do. I still have no idea how to process it all.
When I was at last able to see your face, I was in awe. My eyes, my sons eyes – they were the same as yours. You were so handsome, dad. So young…too damn young.
Since then, so much has happened. I met Robyn! That nutty sister of yours along with her fiancé Ben came to visit me, and it was life changing. She shared so many memories of you, both happy and sad. She brought me the surfboard you made, and the video they played at your funeral. She told me about how you were a surfer/total beach bum, a goofball, an artist, that you loved to ride your bike were such a “free spirit”. The memories she granted me were the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received. She is an incredible woman that I am so grateful for.
I love to garden and crochet, just like Ann. I play music, just like Jerry did. There are so many incredible parallels that consistently blow me away.
Dad, I’ve never met you, but through your family – our family, I feel like I knew you. I think you would be proud of me. I know that I am proud to be your daughter.
I hope that wherever you are, the waves are perfect and the sun never sets.