I am 28 years old and I’ve just met my Father for the first time.
Prior to meeting him, I had no memories of him or what he looked like.
The last time he saw me I was maybe 3 years old.
Growing up I simply denied that I had a father at all – In my reality he didn’t exist. It was just my Mother and siblings in the house.
There were no pictures of him around, no memories of him to reflect on, and no conversations ever brought up to bring him to mind. A single parent household was all I ever knew and it was the same for most my childhood friends.
I don’t think I was ever mad at him for not being there, nor did I hold any grudges. I really was just indifferent to the idea of ever knowing him.
I never heard much about the type of person he was, all I really knew was that he wasn’t there, and didn’t contribute to our lives and upbringing.
When I was 14 years old, I found out he had been deported from Canada back to Jamaica – too many crimes, too many times. I didn’t care…
When I was around 20 years old I had found out he had been stabbed and I was told he was dead. I didn’t care…
A day later we found out he hadn’t died, his stomach lining was just cut so parts that should be inside his body were outside (I’ll let you use your imagination), but everything was still intact and he got stitched up and was good to go. Great news for him. But again, I didn’t care.
That was the first time I realized he really didn’t matter to me, and why should he? This faceless image I had in my mind of who he was had no meaning to me. Just a stranger I never knew.
That being said, I still planned a trip with my girlfriend to Jamaica and put 2 days aside for the purpose of meeting my biological Father for the first time.
Here Are The Reasons Why I Decided To Meet Him:
1) Curiosity – I wanted to see the face of the man who’s DNA sculpted how I look. I wanted to see what similarities we had in our physical traits, and what his personality was like. Are we the same height? Same smile? Is he smart, funny, quiet, loud?
2) Understanding – It’s easy to just accept he is a bad person and take others word for that. But I believe there are multiple perspectives to every story and he deserves a chance to explain himself. I wanted to hear his side of the story and understand. Why did he leave us? Why didn’t he help my mom financially? Was he scared? Was having children a responsibility he wasn’t ready for at the time?
3) Forgiveness/Clarity – I truly believe I was never mad and didn’t hold a grudge against him through out my life. But I felt I couldn’t truly say to myself that I forgave him without meeting him and showing it through my actions. I believe forgiveness is key to personal freedom in life and that means a lot to me.
4) Opening Up Possibility – I knew I would never have a Father/Son relationship with him and didn’t care to develop a friendship, but I believe in opening up space for “possibility”. So after satisfying the previous points in this list, I wanted to allow for the possibility of some type of relationship if that is what would naturally come from meeting him.
5) Closure/No Regrets – This is the most important reason I went to visit him. Even though I already experienced what my reaction was when I thought he had died when I was 14 (Basically nothing, I didn’t care) that doesn’t meet I wouldn’t have cared in 10, 20, 30 years or in my old age, or if after I have children of my own.
One of the worst emotions in life is that of regret and I know that although not immediately, one day I would regret not putting my ego aside (and money) to go to Jamaica and meet my biological father.
So I did it.
On Jan 16th/17th of 2018. In the middle of our trip backpacking around Jamaica me and my girlfriend went to his side of Jamaica and got an AirBnB. I had brought up gifts for him in the form of shoes and clothing and other little necessities, met up and took him out for dinner and had our first real conversation...
...It wasn't what I had expected.
The visual I had in my mind of how it would have played out involved him being anxious to provide explanations about what happened in the past, and sincere apologies for the choices he had made and wanting to try to make it up.
I expected to feel from him a sense of gratitude towards me for bringing him items from Canada he truly needed, taking him out to dinner, and above all going out of my way to book a ticket to Jamaica and see him despite his past actions.
I felt none of it.
He avoided acknowledging any wrong doing in the past. It appeared as though the giant pink elephant sitting at the dinner table went completely unnoticed by him.
Is that possible? Can this man really be oblivious to what seemed obvious to me? I don't know. Maybe he created a false story in his mind about why he made so many bad decisions in the past, and he felt justified in abandoning his responsibilities and forcing his children and our mother away from him.
Whatever the reason, the conversation was shallow. We discussed family members, what I did for a living, how my trip was going and the typical surface level conversational topics, and then dinner was over. We left, got in a taxi and went our separate ways.
The next day we went to his small town for one last visit with the reassurance he would be able to provide a place for us to stay for the night.
Things didn't exactly go as expected.
Our first day there we took some pictures together, but then I found myself being paraded around this small Jamaican town (With all my backpacking gear on full display) like the prodigal son. We literally went house to house as he kind of force introduced people to us. Some people clearly couldn't have cared less haha. That happened about 15-20 times.
I get it though. As a deportee in Jamaica you don't have the greatest reputation and I imagine it's exciting to see your 3 year old son suddenly be reintroduced to you as a 28 year old man after years with no contact and you want people to know about it.
It was really interesting to see the features we had in common.
For one thing, we were identical in height and body structure, I was just bigger overall.
We also often stood the same way and I feel as though we had similar composure. We both seem to observe a lot, relatively quiet and get lost in our thoughts at times.
You know, spending a lot of time in our minds.
It was interesting to watch him try to explain things, because I could sense he has a good level of intelligence, but he had a hard time articulating his thoughts.
Vocabulary makes such a difference in communication...
But anyway, and so we continued.
As the evening neared my girlfriend and I found ourselves lead back at the house of this very kind, sweet older lady who we were introduced to earlier in the day. We weren't sure why at first but as we chatted with her more, my Father's presence disappeared. We were confused! Including this sweet old lady.
As we shared our story of the day with her a realization set in...
It was clear that we had no real place to stay!
It seems he brought us to her house with hopes she would take us in for the night.
Which in hindsight was no surprise, his "house" wasn't exactly livable.
The problem is she was never asked, and we were never told. We had assumed he had arranged a place for us to stay like he had said.
This just added on to the "less than ideal" impression and experience of meeting my father for the first time. I was hoping the views people had told me about him were not true but he was doing a bad job of showing otherwise.
He did eventually come back a few hours later in the night to "make sure we were alright" and invite me out to the bar. I declined.
Luckily for us she welcomed us to stay the night as she was understanding of our situation (and his character more than we knew).
It turns out she has a home in Ontario, Canada which is the province I live in, and she spends the winter months retired in Jamaica. We had a lot of things to talk about and it turned out to be a great experience and an unexpected great connection.
I also found out she went to elementary school with my grandmother (May she rest in peace) around 60 years prior in this very town I was staying in!
After being pampered for the night with great food and a rare and welcomed hot shower, we woke up in the morning to a great breakfast, thanked her and said our good byes.
Before leaving the town to continue our backpacking trip around Jamaica I went by my Father to let him know we were leaving. Before jumping in the taxi I could see he was waiting for the right moment to say something.
I thought he was nervous and having a hard time simply saying sorry for the years of not being there or at least for what happened the night before.
But no, he used it as one more opportunity to let me down. With his last words to me he asked:
"Could you, Uhm...Do you have some drinking money for me...?"
...I didn't know how to react.
Part of me wanted to get angry, part of me was confused, and part of me felt sorry for this man who was clearly so oblivious to the situation he was in. He's never really met me up until this occasion, he likely never will again, and after a life time of absence those are the words he choose?
It's funny because at times I find myself trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, and find an angle or perspective that would allow me to feel as if he was justified in his actions - I don't think I'm that creative.
Now in his defence, I don't think he is a bad person (He's a nice guy and all) I just think he has not come to terms with his own reality regarding WHY we have never met, and has made (and continues to make) decisions that do not truly serve him.
That was my first (and probably last) experience meeting my biological Father.
Then again, who knows what the future holds.
A bit disappointing, yet satisfying because it gave me the closure I've needed all these years
So here is my advice to anyone who has a decision to make as far as meeting a Mother, Father or estranged person in their life.
Do not do it for that person.
Do not do it for the family member who thinks you should.
Do not do it "Because they are blood and it's only right".
Do not do it because you feel guilty or feel that you owe that person anything.
Do it for you, and only you!
Do it only if you feel that it is what will allow your mind to come to a place of clarity, freedom and peace.
Do it because your forgiveness opens up space for new possibilities in your life and you want to free yourself of emotional bondage.
Do it because you feel safe and be okay with the result, don't set expectations. Let what happens simply be what happens.
I hope my experience and story will serve and be impactful for even just 1 person.
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