To my Fa­ther,

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - THE LETTER I WISH I’D SENT -

HOW do I say all this stuff that has had to stay un­said for most of my life? I never knew you; you never knew me... That’s how it al­ways was, and, sadly, will prob­a­bly al­ways be.

You see, my mother got preg­nant when she was 19, bring­ing shame and dis­grace on the fam­ily. She was work­ing in the RAF, at Hal­ton in the UK, and that’s where she met you. She tells me you were train­ing to be a butcher and that your nick­name was “Butch”. But that’s all that she re­mem­bers about you. I think, even now, she still finds it em­bar­rass­ing and hard to dis­cuss. I gather it may have been a one-night stand, or a fling. And I came along some nine months later. She tells me that you knew, but weren’t in­ter­ested and that you left the UK. Dad, I for­give you.

My nat­u­ral mother was told never to come home, and to put me up for adop­tion, by her fa­ther. But his wife, my grand­mother, a great lady from Cork, put her foot down, and so I was legally adopted, and raised, by my nat­u­ral grand­par­ents in Dublin. I didn’t find out about this un­til I was 14... and, ever since, I have been dy­ing to find you, to know you, to know the other half of my story. Oh, most peo­ple can’t un­der­stand this. They say that you don’t miss what you have never known. But that is so not true. Most peo­ple know where they come from... and, I guess, take it for granted. But when you don’t know, it’s like this big gap in your life... half of my story is miss­ing.

Through­out my life I have won­dered about the traits that def­i­nitely don’t come from my “known” fam­ily. My great energy, lust for life, love of travel, re­silience and re­source­ful­ness. I of­ten won­der, Dad, were you very fit and sporty? Did you travel? Did you have that same cu­rios­ity? Did you get mar­ried and have more chil­dren? Do I look like you? Do I have broth­ers and sis­ters who I will also never know? Re­cently, I thought that I might get my DNA on record, on the off-chance that you or even a sib­ling might show up. I did find many third and fourth cousins, and fu­tilely sent out some emails ask­ing if they might be able to help me lo­cate my nee­dle in a world-sized haystack.

Or maybe you never had any other chil­dren? If not, I am still here, wait­ing. You have two beau­ti­ful grand-daugh­ters, now in their 30s. They’d love to know you too. The el­dest has two boys, a nine-year-old and a lovely lit­tle 20-mon­thold. I think you’d be proud of us. We all live near Gal­way.

As a last re­sort, I am think­ing of hir­ing a genealogy spe­cial­ist or a pri­vate de­tec­tive. It would be ex­pen­sive, but if I found you it would be the best money I could spend. What do you think, Dad? Should I? Would you? Toni Email ad­dress with Ed­i­tor

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