So here I was on the precipice of a new chapter in my life. Overall nothing had really changed in the physical sense but after sleeping on it for a few days I had decided that I would try to get into contact with my natural Father because I really really wanted to see what this bloke looked like.
I was also being nosey I wondered how his life had turned out on the other side of the world for him I wondered how he had got on after he had left.
In the last chapter I told you exactly what family means to me but I was not looking for another Dad or a replacement family here. I did not want to walk away from the family I had got they were after all already mine and as families go they were pretty top notch so nope I was not looking for that.
Was I curious? Well of course I was I mean who wouldn’t be! There was another part of me that was walking around out there and I irrationally really really needed to know what he looked like.
What a strange thing to be focused on but there it was and I was not going to be letting it go it seemed so I set to tracking down some information on this mysterious chap.
That information was handed to me on a plate if I am honest because it turned out that his Mother still lived in the same house she had done 20 years before so I managed to get hold of a phone number, the old landline type that was still the main way of calling each other back then and walked around for a couple of days with it in my pocket working up the courage to first make the call and secondly wondering what the hell I was going to say!
I mean first impressions and all that along with the fact that someone twenty one years since gone was about to come back into their lives for whatever amount of time completely out of the blue. I had a pretty good idea of what that felt like so I wanted to handle it correctly.
The decision was made I was going to make that call I really wanted to explore that new side of my existence after all there were lots of strange things spinning around in my head like,
“Are there any health concerns I need to know about?”
“Do I have any more brothers and sisters?”
“Did this chap marry in the end?”
“Would he be interested in having a chat with me or had he moved on wanting to leave it all in the past after all he did sign the adoption papers along with all rights towards me?”
On that last one I had instantly come to the frame of mind that that would be fair enough after all two decades had passed by so the reality of the situation was that he may never want anything at all to do with me. With a shrug of the shoulders and with an eerie sense of calm that came over me quite suddenly I sat down and dialled his Mum’s telephone number.
This time though the conversation I had rehearsed in my head was holding up because that is the benefit of being on a telephone, people couldn’t really do much back then with a phone because they were not mobile and you tended to be restricted movement wise to how far the cord could stretch. I say the conversation went as I planned but what I mean is the beginning of it did.
I started by telling her that nothing was wrong and that no one was hurt but I thought it might be best if she sat down whilst we were talking because she was in for a bit of a surprise and I did not want her falling over like in an old made for TV comedy film where folks just rolled their eyes back in the sockets of their heads then fell to the left completely passed out…hopefully that had broken the ice.
She told me that she was indeed sat down and full of anticipation of what I was about to say so what else could I do? I told her what my name was and I could literally hear her smile before she said
“I have been waiting quite some time for you to call”.
Now that threw me out completely because I thought that I would have had to explain who I was and why I was calling but no here we were with her sat on her stairs holding her phone to her ear quietly and easily taking control of the situation in that way you don’t seem to notice until after it’s all over only the way those lucky enough to live to an old age somehow always manage to do.
I had decided that the best course of action would be to send her a letter that could be forwarded onto America that way there was no pressure from me for this chap to get in touch as I would not know where in America he was let alone what state or address but he would have all of the information to talk back to me if he was so inclined.
No pressure there then just a reach out to say hello that could not be taken the wrong way. I would pop a few pictures in of myself along with my little family just to add some substance and what he did then was his call.
Now this was a very good idea I was told by the lady who I was worried about upsetting on the end of the telephone and before I had really figured out what was happening I was going down south to see my paternal grandmother to hand deliver this letter to her so she could forward it onto America directly and at the same time have a good feel out of this child that had become a young man she had not seen for his lifetime at her leisure in the comfort of her own home. I hope I am that clever when I get to her age! Cunning very cunning indeed…top marks to her.
So a few days later I was heading down the motorway in my 12 year old white Sierra with a letter that had taken all of those days to put together and was around draft eighteen if I recall correctly, sat on the passenger seat next to me. I just had to keep checking it was there by either looking at it or reaching out to touch it every few minutes. It had indeed been a strange couple of weeks well I say strange but what I mean really is life changing. Not in a physical sense, everything still plodded on like it does, I still got up and went to work, the bills still wanted paying afterall and my little family carried on growing.
No none of that was any different but I was starting to change in subtle little ways as the truth of another family line started to sink in with me.
Oh I had my family and one that could not be surpassed by any other Mum and Dad were great as well as my tribe of siblings but I was the big brother here and that has always been my life my choice and my responsibility. I now wondered if I was on course to be a big brother to another set of siblings?
But if I had more and they wanted to be in contact how could I be with them being brought up the American way? Would we be compatible on a sibling front? I was presuming the choice was mine here I mean they might hate me for just existing and being hidden away for their lifetimes…hang on why was I presuming I was hidden away? They may well have known about me all along I mean that was a real possibility…you can see how these things set to swirling around in your head and the possibilities of the unknown are limitless.
I leant back into the worn fabric of the drivers seat, this was something I was doing a fair bit of lately in seats, and semi consciously sighed to myself again as I pondered on the possibilities of it all.
Luckily the half mile exit sign caught my eye on the motorway and I branched off now getting really close to my city destination of Oxford. For the first time since talking on the phone I felt a little nervous with a few butterflies in my stomach and an understandable apprehension as I headed into the suburbs.
A few more heartbeats saw me passing into a cul-de-sac with a slow cruise past the house I wanted before turning around and parking up. I sat for a few moments knowing that this meeting was to change things even more in my life whatever the outcome because I was about to meet my natural Fathers Mother and weird as that was I had this feeling that my life was about to go in a direction but maybe all of the control would not be mine on it’s journey.
“To hell with it” I thought grabbing the car door handle and getting out into the cool morning air. A short walk along a tarmac pathway that lead to a pair of ornate metal driveway gates about ten feet ahead and I found myself looking to see anyone was peeking out of the curtains at me approaching but if they were they were well hidden. I got to the front door then pressed the doorbell button but seeing as there was no noise I could hear I gave a couple of good wraps of my knuckles on the door itself just for good measure.
My nerves had changed to an eerie calm but I had started to hear voices coming from elsewhere and no one had answered the door yet?? Hang on had my mind finally cracked? There it was again…oh it was coming from the side door of the house just down the driveway, she didn’t use the front door itself but a side one.
As I rounded the side of her home there she was with her head and shoulders poking sideways out of a doorway looking just like a stereotypical Grandmother with hair freshly done whilst holding a slightly portly figure and donning an apron like I had disturbed her mid cooking something.
We made eye contact as I came around from the front of the house and she instantly beamed at me saying “Well you must be Nick then” very matter of factly giving me a big hug as soon as I was in grabbing distance from her.
“Come in come in you must tired after your drive” I was informed whilst being simultaneously led without mush of a choice into her kitchen where much to my surprise I came face to face with a couple of other people. Turns out one was an Uncle and the other a cousin and this development left me further surprised for the umpteenth time since the day had begun because this was a development that I had not even considered, more family.
Why I had not considered I do not know but I was new to all of this so I just kind of took it in my stride just hoping I was not going to be some sort of freak show side line that would have masses of folks I did not know coming at me from all directions during the day. Well I wasn’t a freak show but I would meet an Aunt before the visit was over and it all felt a little odd to be meeting my natural Fathers family before even seeing what he looked like but at this point I was pretty much overwhelmed with the whole situation so I just rolled along with it all.
When I had the time later that day and in the ones that followed I realised that I could not blame them for all turning up on the same day after all it may have been the only chance to see this long lost family member. Remember this was a time before mobile phones that had built in cameras so pictures were cherished and there were not any of me, there was also no Internet to stalk me down on either getting a few pics without me realising so why not just come and see what this baby you once knew about had turned into? I would have probably done the same in their shoes.
The next few hours passed quickly with lots of information being dug out on both sides of the last twenty odd years and I walked away with a bit more of a picture of who this fella was but I had not asked to see an actual picture of him or where he lived or about his family. I had purposely said early upon arriving that I did not want to know that yet as it was his choice whether to tell me it or not and this was respected by all of the parties that were there.
Just before leaving I handed over the letter that had taken so long to write to his Mother who promised it would be on it’s way state side by the next day so it would not be long before he got it. A nod of the head from me on that and it was done. The single step from me handed over that could change even more things in my life…had I done the right thing here?
There were fierce hugs given all round as I left feeling a little bewildered to walk to my car.
I love driving. Not around cities or short distances but those long distance drives by yourself because it gives you time to really let your mind run freely. There I sat head back once again in a seat just relaxing giving the road ahead just enough concentration to be safe whilst the rest of my mind ran through the day processing it all then filing it away for future reference knowing that several more pathways had been opened today in my life’s course and I wondered if I would be returning to explore those paths in the future. Time would tell I supposed as my tyres continued to chew up the long miles on the tarmac…©