SERIES: Part 1
“Oh my god” I say, as I drag the two photos side by side to compare.
One is a copy of the photo my mother gave me, labeled ‘bio.dad’, on my computer. The other is a college graduation photo I’ve just found online. Both were probably taken within a year of each other, and both are of the same man– or at least I think they are. Unreasonable doubt clings to me as I examine the identical eyes, lips, and chin of both images. After 43 years of mystery, my brain is struggling with this massive shift and I don’t trust what I’m seeing. ‘Did that really just happen? Did I really just find my father?‘
I call downstairs but the house is silent. David must be in his office with a client so I send him an urgent text. My mind whirls and I’m walking in circles by the time I hear the stairs creak under his footsteps. I need confirmation that I’m not crazy– that the man I’ve just found really is my father. David hunches over and squints into the soft blue glow of the computer screen, but my excitement turns to annoyance as he begins speaking. Instead of a simple confirmation that I’ve found the right man, he’s trying to give me a lesson in military style facial identification, oblivious to my impatience.
“So… look here… see the ear, and the way it curves around… blah blah blah…”
“Are you kidding me??!! I don’t need to be wowed by your expertise right now!!! Just tell me it looks like him before I lose my fucking mind!!!”
I’m only screaming on the inside. In reality, I form a more restrained request and get the confirmation I need. He hugs me, but in this, one of the most pivotal moments of my life, he is weirdly non chalante. It’s one of his Asperger-ish quirks. He rarely shows excitement about anything and it’s maddening. Especially at Christmas.
He returns to work and I’m left alone, freaking out more with each passing minute. Still pacing around the room, I text my oldest daughter to say I’ve found her grandfather. She has no idea what the hell I’m talking about. She already has a grandfather on her Dad’s side and knows exactly where he is. Her response is just as unsatisfying as David’s. As I try to clarify, frantic fingers jabbing the telephone, my middle child calls from a friend’s house where she’s spent the night. I answer, breathless, and tell her the news. The most excitable of my three children, she explodes with empathy and teenage glee as she relays the information to her friend. Both their voices ring in gratifying enthusiasm on the other end of the line.
I need to tell my siblings (or half siblings, as other people would call them). But most of all, I need to tell my brother. He was given up for adoption before I was born and I didn’t meet him until I was 19. He’s the only one who will understand what this means to me. I open a chat box, type in the news, then haunt Facebook impatiently until his response appears. He’s skeptical.
“How can you be sure?” he asks.
I attach the two photos and click ENTER. This response is immediate.
“OMG. You found him.”
I tell him my father is a musician just like me, and that I look like my grandmother. He reminisces about when we met for the first time, and the chat box trail grows long with our excited back and forth. Of course he wants to know if I’m going to contact my father- it’s what everyone is asking.
“No, I’m not ready for that,” I say, but the truth is, I’m dying to know him.
My youngest daughter wakes and I tell her the news. My two younger children lost their father when they were small, and I watch her reaction closely as we look through my father’s Facebook page together. She’s now seeing all the photos I’ve already pored over. She clicks on a video, and for 47 seconds we’re transported through this little magic window. We see him play with his dogs, laugh with his wife, and hear how he speaks. We are spellbound. He doesn’t know his daughter and grand-daughter are watching him. He doesn’t even know we exist. My daughter looks up at me, eyes wide and face lit with awe.
“Oh my god mom…” she says. “That’s your DAD!”