Something has been playing on my mind recently, and to be honest it’s not something I really talk about on here very much.  I think it was Christmas that made me think about it more than usual.  As a blogger I was reading lots of lovely posts about how Christmas is a lovely time for people to reminisce over their own childhood experiences.  That’s exactly how it should be right?

I want my children to have some amazing memories of the magic of Christmas, but the truth is Christmas didn’t have much magic for me growing up.  Please don’t think this is a sob story, as my life is about creating my own memories and a new history for my family and moving away from the past.  I’m proud of what I’ve achieved with my life, and believe by taking responsibility for our choices and making changes we can over come the issues of our past.

As a blogger, sometimes I’m asked to think about my own childhood memories either around travel experiences or significant family times like Christmas.  When you are asked to think about these things, and it’s harder than most people to find the positives, it can leave you feeling a little sad at a time when things should be happy and positive.  Over Christmas I lost the ability to be in the moment, and was drawn into my past more than I would have liked to have been.

When I start to think about my own family, I often wonder what has happened to my Dad.  When you don’t know much about your family, it leaves you with a weird feeling.  There’s a kind of whole in your life, and lots of unanswered questions.  I think it’s human nature to want to know where we have come from and where we belong.  I’m really lucky to have a lovely family and friends that fill that gap, but I still have questions about my past.

I will often try and search the internet and find some clue about what might have happened to my Dad, but  he’s not the type to leave a digital footprint.  I’m conscious he’s getting old, and to be quite honest I didn’t know whether he was dead or alive.  You guys might benefit from a bit of history at this point, as I think some context might be helpful.  I will keep the story as short as possible, so bear with me.

My Mum left my Dad when I was a baby, and we moved away to a different area.  When I started school my surname was changed and by this point my Mum had got married.  I did know I had a Dad somewhere, but had never met him.  When I was 12 years old, we tracked him down and I met him for the first time.  It was an overwhelming experience to say the least, and would probably take a whole other blog post to go through.

My Dad has never led what I would call a conventional lifestyle, and could be described as nomadic.  He’s definitely a free spirit, amongst a few other things.  He didn’t become a permanent feature in my life at 12, he just popped in and out of it a few times.  To be fair, I had enough on my plate with my Mum so in some ways this was for the best.  The last time I saw him I was 17 years old, and with me leaving for university etc we didn’t make contact again.

Now, I’m 41 and despite not knowing my Dad’s birthday or age, I could hazard a guess at him being in his 70’s.  He wasn’t one for looking after himself, so literally anything could have happened to him.

My curiosity peeked the other evening, and I thought I would have one last try and seeing if I could find out what had happened to him.  Fortunately he is from a big family, and they still live in the area he grew up in.  I knew a few names that I could look up.  Facebook worked a dream, and pointed me in the direction of a lady who I thought might be my cousin.  There was also a good chance she would know who I was too.  I dropped her a message, not knowing whether anything would come of it or not.

The next day she sent me a reply, and even though she wasn’t able to give me any information she pointed me in the direction of an Aunt that might be able to help me.  I’m not one to let the grass grow under my feet, so I messaged her straight away to see what she was able to tell me about my Dad.  She was also kind enough to get back to me.  When you start opening these doors, you can never be sure if people will want to speak to you or not.  Sometimes, trying to contact family can be met with a frosty response, for lots of different reasons.

Sadly, I think this is what would happen if I tried to contact any of my Aunts, Uncles or cousins from my Mum’s family.  I’m not ready to have a relationship with my mother, as she is just to destructive, but she has a big family as well.  I have a lot of cousins I’ve not seen for many years.  I often look them up on Facebook, but I don’t feel brave enough to get in touch.  Because my Mum is, shall we say, difficult, I was very much tarred with the same brush.  For many years I lived up to those labels, and I could have been described as difficult too.  It’s safe to say I’ve made a few mistakes in my time.

The sad thing about this story is that you aren’t given the opportunity to make up for those mistakes, or show people what a success you made of your life.  The memories they have of you are of a troubled child, who was struggling with having a Mum with mental health issues, an absent Dad with a colourful past and a violent stepfather, and no one is prepared to cut you any slack.

Fortunately for me I decided to shake off all those labels that had been stuck to me and create a new story for myself.  Personally I think my story is far more interesting than any of theirs.  They live in the same place, following in pretty much the same footsteps as their parents.  Labels can work in all kinds of ways can’t they?

Any way, I digress.  Back to the story of my Dad.  The Aunt got back to me, and she offered to speak to me over the phone that night and fill me in.  I braced myself for speaking to her, and made the call that would help me find the answers I had been looking for for many years.

We talked for an hour, filling each other in on what we knew about the situation.  It was nice to have someone to talk to about it as so much had been going round in my head.  Don’t get me wrong. My Dad isn’t going to be getting any father of the year awards any time soon, but to be honest it’s not really about him, it’s about me.

I want a positive story to share with my children about my own history.  My daughters are inquisitive souls, and one day they will ask about the Granny and Grandad they haven’t seen and as the story stands at the moment, it’s not an especially happy one and it feels very unfinished.  I’m not a fan of unfinished stories.

It turns out that my Dad is alive, and he is currently in a nursing home.  He has suffered some strokes, and is wheelchair bound.  Despite that he’s in pretty good health, but he is 75 years old so lets not pretend that time is on our side here.  As the situation stands, he’s an old mad in a nursing home.  Very few people go to see him, and if I know anything about my Dad, he will hate being stuck in one place.

Hopefully, when he finds out I’ve been in touch he will agree that I can go and visit him.  I’ve got a lot to tell him.  There’s wedding photo’s to go through, 3 grandchildren to introduce him to and the whole blog thing to explain.  I might have a new reader, he’s got 3 years to catch up on!

Who know’s what’s going to happen next, I think at this point it’s just about going one step at a time.  I forgave my Dad for not being around a long time ago, as I said it really was for the best.  I just want some closure I guess, and maybe if we can salvage some kind of relationship in the last years of his life that will be a positive step for both of us.

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  1. What a maze you have to find your way through
    You are so strong and incredibly brave to do what others would ignore
    Being labelled and tarred with the same brush are diffucult – the older i get the more i look at individuals for their personal qualities rather than the family group Label
    Good luck with your quest x

  2. I was intrigued by your story as I myself am in a similar situation, except from I have never met my father. In fact, I don’t even know whether he is aware of my existence! I have a rough age for him and a name, but despite numerous attempts online, I have never come up with anything helpful. I just wanted to tell you that I completely understand what you mean when you say you feel like something is missing. It’s not like I mope around, as I’m 35 now and have a beautiful son of my own, who I will make sure always has his father in his life, whether we remain married or not (but hopefully the former lol). But still, not knowing exactly where you came from and having so many unanswered questions, it’s not good for the soul. I’m so happy for you that you had the luck that I didn’t, and I very much hope you get to see your Dad soon x

  3. I think it’s a fabulous idea to write your own ending. I suspect he turned up a couple of times in your lifetime because he very much wanted to but perhaps it was his own guilt at his failings that made him disappear again. I hope you find something positive of the situation to pass on to your children but even if you don’t, you can teach them to write their own endings too.

  4. I think you’re very brave for starting the search and I’m so pleased that you managed to find him. I’ve been through the same thing with my husbands biological dad and it’s never an easy process. I look forward to hearing about the next steps x

  5. Wow you have certainly been nusy! I a so glad you managed to find him and hope you get to see him soon. 75 really isn’t old I work in a care home poeple live way into there 90’s. The oldest person I have personaly cared for was 102 so hey you still have plently of time for your questions and to make some happier memories
    Anosa recently posted…Destinations Revisited ~ Vintgar GorgeMy Profile

  6. That was a really hard childhood, you should be really proud for being able to create such a lovely story for yourself. I can’t feel the same as you do, but I can imagine how difficult can be so I wish you best of luck in this journey xx

  7. Gosh – What a story! Thank you for telling it.
    I remember my sister trying to wind our Dad up on his 75th birthday about his age and he just said “Well I’m going to live till I’m 100 so I’ve still got 25 years left!”

  8. It’s a difficult path to tread. I struggled without my Father. I thought about him most days in my childhood and almost every day as I became an adult. After 25 years after I last saw him I made contact and spent my thirties trying to build a relationship with him. My forties saw me breaking off all contact. I didn’t find what I wanted. I didn’t get the Cilla Black ‘Surprise Surprise’ reunion. No hugs, no tears, no explanations. I didn’t even like the man he was, and without the loyalty and unconditional love that a child has growing up with a parent, we had nothing to work on. But like you, I had to know. I had to find that missing part of the jigsaw of my life. I wish you a better outcome, but knowing, one way or another is important.

  9. I think it’s so great that you managed to find him. It must be hard but it’s great that you still have a chance to see him and introduce him to your children. As you said adding the end to an unfinished story. Best of luck xx

  10. Oh lovely I’m so glad you’ve managed to locate him. It’s amazing that you’re weaving a completely different life for yourself, but just like you, I know times like Christmas bring up those memories and thoughts of your parents and what they’re doing and how they’re feeing about you. I hope you get to visit him and introduce him to the adult chapter of your life. x
    Chloe Ciliberto recently posted…MADE IN CORNWALL: MEET PHOTOGRAPHER OLIVIA BOSSERTMy Profile

  11. This is heartbreaking but I think you should definitely reconnect with your dad. I think he would love to see you. I’ve worked in nursing homes and they can be lonely places. It’s always hard to be the instigator in relationships when you’ve been hurt but sometimes it does a world of good.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I too identify with a messed up family of origin. It took me years to get to the real truth of my family of origin.

    What I have learnt is we can have no peace within, until we know who we are, have cleared up our questions (questions we don’t always know we have, until we get to the next stage of learning and then we find some more)

    My family of origin story is like something out of a novel. Go for it, find what you need too. I have always found writing cathartic too. I have my memoirs for me.

    John Bradshaw has written a book called Family Secrets what you dont know can hurt you! It maybe a book that you should look at. It was part of my journey of recovery I was led too. It really helped me with the healing process.

    Good luck to you and may the God you do or don’t understand go with you, whatever you believe

  13. Such a sad story, you have done so well to lead a normal life after the things you have been through. It’s great you have made contact with your aunt and had a good chat

  14. What a sad upbringing you must have had and I commend you for your bravery. I hope you can salvage some sort of relationship with him and I look forward to reading the posts which are sure to follow.


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