This is a special memory from my own childhood.
It all started when I found out that the USARSA National Championships (skating) would take place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I decided to go. It was early in 1970 and I was twenty with a full time job working at the telephone company and living with my best friend. I could buy my own ticket and she couldn’t stop me. I wasn’t going to compete; I was going so that I could see my Dad and the rest of my family. My excuse for going was to support my teammates but mostly – I was going to see my Dad.
It had been 8 years. For all those years, my mother had nothing but bad things to say about my Dad. It was easier when I was younger, you are supposed to believe everything your mother tells you but as I got older, I just didn’t remember him being the evil person she portrayed him to be and I wanted to go back and see for myself. Telling her took all the courage I could muster. She was sure he wouldn’t want to see me. He didn’t know yet that I was coming. She demanded I call him right then, from her apartment. She believed her own lies and she was just certain he wouldn’t want to see me and she could say, “I told you so”.
I called on a Sunday afternoon and remember telling who ever answered the phone that I wanted to speak to Glen, “to tell him that it was Kathy, his daughter”. We both cried on the phone and he told me he had a new wife and two kids! He would hear nothing of me staying at the motel; they would pick me up at the airport.
I didn’t think the day would ever come. I took the red-eye out of Los Angeles and arrived at 6 AM Detroit time. I had told him when my plane would arrive but somehow forgot to tell him which airlines and of course, there were two planes arriving from LAX at about the same time. Daddy told me later that he had a friend from the State Police try and check manifests but since I had flown student stand by I wasn’t on it!
He picked the wrong terminal. I remember getting off the plane and he wasn’t there. I wandered through the terminals to the ticket counters and sat down at a pay phone to try to call him. There was no answer. I turned and looked up and there he stood with his back to me. I will never forget that moment. I would have known him anywhere from his ears! Daddy had big ears! He had come! For a few moments there, I let her put doubt in my mind but she was wrong.
We walked to the escalator and he introduced me to his new wife and my new sister and brother. There was immediate warmth and excitement. Mom Number 2, as I think I will call her welcomed me into her home and her heart. She is the kind of Mom I had always wanted and never had. I gained a little brother, something I’d never had either. John was 8 and a typical little boy. Sandy was 12 and from the moment the two of us met, we bonded. We had so much fun together and still do. This was going to be the kind of family I had never had. It is probably the best gift my Dad ever gave me – and still is. Buying that plane ticket to Michigan was certainly one of the smartest things I ever did. It was a wonderful vacation filled with family, food and lots of stories. Aunts, uncles and cousins came to visit and we went to see them.
Remember when we were younger and had to sit through slide shows of someone’s vacation? Well, you get to sit through a slide show, I think it is the easiest way to share it all. It was wonderful!
You can click the pictures to go to larger view.