Sometimes I left the light on all night for him. He knew where I lived, and it was not far from his home. I imagined he might turn up, needing help or something. He’d see the light and know I was there. It was a pipe dream. It was ridiculous. I had only laid eyes on him once, and that was briefly, a few hours after he was born. By the time my ridiculous fantasy fully emerged he was 30 years old. I had never received a reply to my letters. I had never spoken to him. According to the adoption agency, he was willing to meet me, but in no hurry to do so.
The adoption agency and his birth mother told me a few things about him: his height, the school and university he went to, the course he studied, his personality, his football team. It seemed his life had been good so far.
I was happily married and had three other children. Was it curiosity or remorse that compelled me to seek contact with him? I kept trying. Eventually his wife wrote to me. She was keen to have us meet, and had received a nod of sorts from him. She told me as much as she knew about his life. Both his adoptive parents were dead. She sent me photos of him, and of her and their two children. She sent me Christmas cards.
One Christmas she sent me a wonderful video slide-show, made for his 40th birthday, with images of him growing up with his late parents and his sister; images of him travelling; and images of him partying. But his wife said he was hesitant about making direct contact.
Another year or two passed. Then one day it happened.
It was an email, headed “It’s about time”. He wrote: “I’ve been telling myself that I only have one dad and that he is dead. I’ve been telling myself that getting in touch with you is to dishonour him. I have been telling myself that I’m not bitter, but that can’t be true.
“At the same time I am saying to myself that you gave up the right to get to know me 45 years ago.”
I was overjoyed, but apprehensive. We spoke on the phone and then met face to face at a pub for dinner and a drink. We got on well. Thankfully, little was said about the elephant in the room.
Before long we met up for a pre-Christmas breakfast. He brought along his wife and their beautiful kids. “What’s it like having grandchildren?” his wife asked.
And then one day, in my home, his family and mine came together. We were drinking, eating, chatting and laughing. The lights were on. He had turned up.
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