As Bryan left for work this morning, he informed me that Luke had been up sick around 11pm. There would be no school for Luke, and no run for me this morning. Luke slept in a little, but woke up sick again.
If it weren't for Luke being sick, we'd have been long gone when the phone rang at 9:04am.
The caller ID read E. Anderson.
When I left the voice mail for him yesterday, I'd hung up confused and frustrated. I hadn't expected to leave a message, so I felt like I was blabbering on and on, making no sense at all, and I might even have talked so much that it cut off before I could leave my phone number. I didn't really think he'd call me back, so I began to prepare myself with a little anger to take the sting out of one more rejection.
Then he called.
My dad's birth father.
When I answered, he said, "Hello, Tonya. This is your grandfather." He sounded so happy! I'm pretty sure he could hear me beaming through the phone.
We had a wonderful talk. One hour and twenty-six minutes. Not knowing what to say at first, I quickly spit out how I'd discovered my father's death and why I was calling, and he quickly spit out how my father died. Talk about awkward. I think that neither of us really knew where to begin.
My dad hadn't talked to my grandfather in a very long time (I believe it had been years), when out of the blue he called. He abruptly said, "Dad, I'm dying." I can't help but marvel at the natural pull between parent and child. No matter how deeply his dad had hurt him, he still needed his dad. On some level, my dad knew much of the same pain and emptiness I have felt. My grandfather has too. A month later, my dad passed. My grandfather found out about it in the local paper.
My grandfather and I talked openly. He shared with me briefly about his childhood. His mother's passing when he was just six. His father's inability to care for him. His brother's attempts to raise him, but ultimately him going to live with another family. He left school after the 9th grade and joined the military, and was then adopted by the family who raised him. How about that? He was adopted as a legal adult! He is a man who is no stranger to the parental hole left in a child's heart.
We talked about his marriage to my grandmother. Their divorce. What led to him giving his boys up for adoption. And I asked....what seems obvious, but I needed to hear from him...."Did you ever come to regret giving your boys up for adoption?" He does. There is so much that he regrets. He is a changed man. I found him to be honest, humble, and wise. He recognizes where he went wrong and has since done things differently, but he cannot change the past. Each of the three children he had with my grandmother are now passed.
In the years since his marriage to my grandmother, my grandfather has built what sounds like a lovely family. He and his wife have a blended family of six living children and fourteen grandchildren. One is his biological daughter, and one is a step son with a previous wife -- but when he divorced the mother, he did not divorce the child. And his wife has four children that he considers his own. This is no longer a man who walks away from his children.
As we talked, he started one sentence with, "If you are ever up here, I will show you..." I'm hoping and praying that that means that he will keep in touch and that there is hope for a visit to my father's hometown that will not result in bitter disappointment. I pray that he actually wants to know me.
On a side note: My grandfather has no idea how to locate my half-brother. That part is still a mystery, but perhaps one day a private investigator will fall into my lap and be able to connect him to our father. I would very much like to meet him one day.