Several weeks ago I did something I never thought I’d do. Something that I’d never done in my 33 years. I drove 3 1/2 hours to Maxton, NC to meet my biological father’s family and I took RJ with me.
Though, I’d met my siblings, well the majority of them, I’d never met my grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. To be honest, it never really bothered me that I hadn’t met them. Then, several days before I decided to make that drive, my step-mother called and told me my father’s mother died. I had no emotional response since I’d never met my grandmother in person, through letters, or phone. I had never seen a picture of her or even knew her name! *It was Ruth* However, I did feel that maybe it was time to make the trip an actually meet that side of my family. RJ would get the chance to meet his grandfather, he’s never met my father face-to-face, and his great-grandfather. Plus, we’d both meet a host of other family members.
I grew up considering my step-father as my father. He is the one who was there throughout my life. When I think about major events in my life, it’s my step-father that I see at all of the them. I had some semblance of a relationship with my biological father throughout my life. I’d see him when we traveled to NY in the summers and occasionally I’d talk to him on the phone. However, that was pretty much the extent of our relationship. After much coaxing by my husband, I did invite my father and step-mother to my wedding and they came. Throughout the years, I’ve had closer relationships with my half-siblings than our father. When I was a pre-teen, at least once a year, my oldest brother would come down to visit me and stay with us. My mom, aunt and I planned a trip to see my other brother graduate from basic training, but a freak snow storm prevented the trip. I met my sister, Serena, at the rehearsal dinner for my wedding and we’ve been thick as thieves ever since.
So, I decided to make this trip. RJ and got up and hit the road. It started out rocky. A little over half-way there the car warned of low tire pressure. This happens when it’s extremely cold or hot so I didn’t worry right away. Also, all gas stations charge for air and I was travelling without cash, not even a penny. *Bad decision on my part.* I drove with that warning light for over an hour. As, we got into Maxton I could hear the rear driver side tire making noise. Once we got to my grandfather’s house, I had my father get in and we went to put air in the tire. Thankfully, they’re run flats. However, something had punctured the tire and you could hear the air coming out:( The roadside assistance rep offered to send a tow truck, but I opted to drive to the nearest dealer, 30 mins away in Fayetteville. *The tow was going to do the same thing, and I had no idea how long it would take for it to get to us. Also, I was not staying overnight and it was getting late. I wanted to get the car to the dealer before they closed.* So, I put RJ back in the car, he’d made fast friends with an uncle we’d just met, and we hit the road, again. I was hot, hungry, an annoyed. My father couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just take the car to the dude he knew down the street. So, he was acting like I was a woman who didn’t know what she was talking about. It’s a company car and there are procedures that have to be followed. He also didn’t understand run flat tires, plus RJ was driving me nuts because he didn’t want to stop playing and take the trip. He just had to deal because I was not leaving him there with people I’d just barely met.
My father and RJ playing at the dealership while wait for the car.
Over an hour later with a plugged tire, and some food, we made it back to my grandfather’s house. I was able to exhale and enjoy the experience. I met my grandfather, he’s legally blind, but still in his right mind at 94, another sister, she and my two brothers have the same mom, a sister-in-law, clicked with her right away, 3 aunts, 4 uncles, 2 first cousins, 3 second cousins
and a partridge in a pear tree. I got to see my oldest brother,who I hadn’t seen since my wedding. RJ had a blast playing and meeting everyone.
It’s always important to know who you are. Though the first part of the trip was stressful, I’m so glad I decided to go. I’m so proud of myself for taking that step. I’m at a point in my relationship with my father where I set the terms. I don’t think we’ll ever be super close and I’m ok with that. As I said, I had a dad who watched me ride a bike with two wheels for the first time, and drove me and college my freshman year, and beamed when I told him I got my first full-time job. I just want RJ to know his only maternal grand-parent. Also, I don’t want to be in a store and walk past a woman or man who might related to me and not even know it. As for the sister I met, well I don’t think we’ll be as close as my sister Serena and I are. We were cordial, but we didn’t even exchange contact info. That may change in time, but for right now at least we met.