The journey to find my father was full of many intrigues, but was also ripe with regret, doubt, hope, forgiveness, and ultimately redemption.
At the age of 14, I began an earnest search for the elusive man who I knew only through a faded photo taken in the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs somewhere around 1980; a year or so before my birth. While my parents were concerned about what I might find when I located him, they ultimately supported my decision, and my search commenced. I wrestled with the decision as I was sure this was hard for my parents, especially my dad Frank, who had raised me as his own since I was a small boy. I simply held onto the hope that they knew how much I loved them.
For the next ten years, I searched the burgeoning directories available on the new fangled "world wide web", flipped through countless phone directories from several cities around the country where I believed he might have been, and placed countless phone calls to errant or disconnected numbers asking if they were - or knew a Mike Jordan.
I will pause at this juncture and say that my random placement of calls resulted in more than one hilarious and awkward conversation with a few Mike Jordan’s (or various women who answered), when I told of my search and confirmed they were, in fact, NOT my father. Hopefully, there were no unintended consequences when we hung up. Haha!
|My father and step-mother - Mike and Houl|
The next hour we spent on the phone confirmed he was in fact, the missing man I had been seeking for over a decade. About 30 minutes after we got off the phone, I received a call and spoke with my grandfather for the very first time. I learned that my grandmother, Ruth, had passed away just months before and that my grandfather had no knowledge of my existence before that night.
Roughly one month after the first call, and one DNA test later confirming everything, I was standing face-to-face in the humid Florida sun with my biological father. There was a slight resemblance to the man standing before me, but with his 6’3” tall height, I was now completely convinced I got the short end of the genetic stick. I’ll blame that one on my mom. ;)
|Papa Bill and the boys|
|My Cousin Chis Jordan - he has some height too!|
|Aunt Karen, cousin Katie, and Uncle Paul|
In the early hours of the morning yesterday, after several days of communicating back and forth with the hospital and Houl, I received the heartbreaking call from his nurse that despite their best efforts, the doctors were unable to revive him after his heart had stopped beating. He was gone.
|A family shot a few visits back|
I will miss talking on the phone, sitting around his living room recounting stories from our respective childhoods, and spending time talking about history or his latest medical ailment. During a conversation several years ago, during a very rare moment of personal reflection, he said something that will forever stay with me. He admitted he had made many mistakes over the course of his life that he wasn't proud of, but that I wasn't one of them. The childhood memories that stirred within me…wondering why someone would walk away from me before he knew me...no other words he could have said could have been more significant. The adage says “It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Few truer words have ever been spoken.
Through forgiveness, redemption was found and a relationship restored. There are silver linings to be found in life's many circumstances...we simply have to open our eyes and look.
You were loved and will be missed. Until we see you again...