A Ray of Hope

It was January of 2001 and I was thinking with great intensity on what my New Year‘s resolutions would be! As I sit here writing this it is now officially January 2021. Exactly twenty years ago I was doing the same thing I do every year and that is setting goals and looking ahead as that has always been very important to me. Sometimes I drive myself crazy making goals and dreaming up idea‘s on how to accomplish things. At that point in my life, January 2001, I really wanted to reach for the stars, I wanted to do everything! My heart was light and I had released so much sadness and pain. In this new year I made up my mind I would try to locate my real biological Father.  I’d never had a Father and I wanted to know this person who helped make me. I didn’t know if he would reject me but I was willing to take the chance in order to have a real Dad. Maybe he had changed his mind on not wanting to know me and just maybe he might be happy to embrace me I thought. I knew he lived in Illinois, my Mother always shared small things here and there about him. He left my Mother seven months pregnant at 17 years old, she was scared and in shock that he left us so abruptly. Mom loved him and she was proud to be married to him. He was 19 and serving in the Marine corp. Sadly, he determined that the whole thing was a mistake, Mom and me. He never looked back, didn’t want anything to do with Mom or I. Never took responsibility, never offered a dime to help us. I knew all of these things but still in my heart I knew I needed to find him and to know once and for all if he might admit his mistakes. I had prayed he did indeed want to know me and love me as his Daughter. Once again, having lived my life in the most positive way, I was applying that mind set to this challenging situation. I looked through the internet phone book for the state of Illinois searching for his name.  I worked hard on narrowing all the names down to the specific area where Mom said she thought he was still living. It is so funny to me now that I think of it, I was going through the list of phone numbers calling one by one and sounding like the little baby bird in P.D. Eastman‘s book “Are you my Mother“ but in this case “Are you my Father?“  On each call I would introduce myself and say I was looking for my Father and gave his name. On the fifth call I made a woman answered and I gave my rehearsed speech. To my shock and surprise she said “Shelley”?? I said yes it’s me. The woman immediately began hollering for my Dad "it’s Shelley!!!'  and within a minute my Father was saying hello to me. I choked up a bit and had to really control my emotions, It was a bit awkward but we managed to talk a bit. I told him I had been trying to find him. I learned that the woman who answered was his wife and I discovered that I had a half sister. After talking back and forth for a few minutes he asked if we could meet and I of course said yes. Once I hung up the phone I cried for a long time. I felt a sense of relief although I knew better then to get too excited, I tried not to have any expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed. By July I had made flight arrangements for my youngest son and I and away we flew to Illinois to meet my Dad for the first time. I held so much hope in my heart that I would be loved by my Father, I longed for this meeting and imagined myself falling into his arms and crying uncontrollably with joy. I wanted to believe this union would produce an incredible testimony of a Father and Daughters love. I had thought maybe my Father leaving us was weighing heavy on his heart, maybe he wanted to fix this broken bridge between us. My heart and my mind were full of so many mixed emotions and thoughts. When the plane landed at Chicago O’Hare I was nervous and already starting to cry. I tried so hard to contain myself but I just couldn’t. My sweet son was so precious and concerned towards me. He was just ten years old but he was born an old soul and had always been incredibly and deeply sensitive to my feelings and that of others around him. He held my hand tightly, reassuring me. I thanked God for the love and understanding of my youngest son, for what was happening, and I had such high hopes he and my other beautiful children would gain a Grandpa that day. (To be continued)

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