June 15, 2008


TV talk shows often feature “reunion” experiences, usually between adopted children and their bio-parents, but sometimes between children of divorce and their “lost” parent. My experience is in the latter category.

My “excursion” only lasted two days. The bus left Butler, Pennsylvania late Friday afternoon, and left New Jersey to return to Butler late Sunday. But this two-day “vacation” enriched—and overwhelmed—my life more than I expected.

My parents divorced when I was very young. Unfortunately, all I knew about my father was that he was a retired Navy man; he had remarried and redivorced; he was father to five children in his second marriage, and he lived in New Jersey. Not much.

In my mid-thirties I wrote the Navy department and requested information on him. They forwarded my letter to him. I answered my phone one day and it was him—and I, for once, was speechless. 

We talked several times, exchanged letters, and we were anxious to meet.

I chose a weekend in October to take a trip to New Jersey for a surprise visit. I learned from a friend there was a chartered bus traveling to New Jersey, taking a group of local people to a Catholic charismatic convention. She arranged for my purchase of one of the few remaining seats. This set the atmosphere for the trip—and what an atmosphere it would be!

Transportation solved, I now had to locate a room. As luck would have it, all the Atlantic City area hotel rooms were filled with conventioneers. Through the La Leche League, I located a room in a private home, which was far more convenient for me than suburban Atlantic City.

Travel and room arrangements made, I contacted one of my father’s sons—my half-brother—Dan, who Dan was willing to do anything that would make things easier for me. We decided it was best to surprise my father, whose bravado in meeting his second daughter might waver and cause him to disappear. I too wanted to disappear—but the desire to meet my father was stronger than the desire to disappear.

It seemed everything about this vacation was coming together like a well-cut jigsaw puzzle.

The bus was filled with singing and conversation. The other passengers were intrigued with my journey. We arrived in Atlantic City on schedule, and I took a cab to my hostess’s home. The cab cost me $25.00, $5.00 more than the eight-hour bus trip!

I arrived at my destination just as my hostess was leaving to attend the convention which all my busmates were headed for. As she hurriedly walked past me she called out that the room was ready, food was in the refrigerator and the house was mine. Her husband and children were there, so I introduced myself and made myself as comfortable as possible in this strange situation, trying to calm the jitters as I thought about my upcoming adventures.

Saturday morning brought a sports car to my door. Two good-looking young gentlemen lifted their tall bodies out of the vehicle and introduced themselves before I entered the front seat of the car. Dan and Jeff then whisked me off into the unknown, laughing all the way. I was certain if they could have they would have picked me up and tossed me over their shoulders and carried me to the car.

Our first stop was to meet their mother, indicating to me they had fully and immediately accepted me as their sister.

We shared time coffee-klatching and then headed out to find my self-employed father, always seeming to be one step behind his morning activities, a parade and the post office. Meanwhile, Dan and Jeff stopped at a drugstore, handing me the sports car keys and instructing me to drive around the block. I’d never driven a sports car before. Wow!

We began the search for my father. Each place we asked about him, we’d just missed his presence—at the drug store, the liquor store, inquiries of persons on the street. We finally caught up with him—he was installing carpet in somebody’s home.

I waited in the car while my brothers went in to talk to him. Within minutes, all three exited the house, my father dressed in work clothes, not prepared in any sense to meet the daughter he’d not seen for over thirty years. He was truly surprised but truly pleased. We were finally meeting, after numerous, lengthy phone conversations!

We drove around for a while, mostly quiet, enveloped in the emotions of the moment. We finally returned my father to where he had to finish installing the carpet, but not before we shared lunch at a local restaurant. The remainder of he afternoon was spent with my two brothers, meeting brother number three (Paul) and their sister, Kitty. There were eight nieces and nephews I could add to my family.

That evening we had a party at Jeff’s home. During this time, we were able to share our histories, and began to view ourselves as a family unit. The warmth and acceptance into this part of my family, as well as seeing my father, made this vacation to a small New Jersey town unique and memorable.

The nature of this vacation also answered many questions, some of which I never knew existed. I learned I was one-fourth Swedish, which added a new dimension to my life. Since then I’ve been writing to a distant relative in Sweden and have a special bond to a Swedish member of my community, who translates the letters that arrive in his native language.

As I prepared to leave for home, my host family refused to take any payment for housing me. While there, I learned they were from a small town in Pennsylvania, 15 miles from where I lived.

I settled back in my seat on the bus for the return ride home, sharing very little with the other passengers. The time was needed to absorb the experience, to discover its meaning, and to relish the acquisition of a new family.

The family bonding that began on that October weekend continued to grow threw the years. I saw my father only once again before death. Kitty has become as much a sister as possible considering we didn’t grow up together and we see each other rarely. However, we look so much alike—and she always wanted a big sister. On our infrequent visits we relate easily to each other.

My reunion experience with my father and his family turned out to be a very positive experience. However, I know of others, mostly adopted persons, whose experiences in attempting reunions have gone less well.

Thank you for visiting my writing site. I welcome comments. 


For additional reading:




DAVID Part 1 of a 10 Part Romance Story

DAVID Part 2 of a 10 Part Romance Story

DAVID Part 3 of a 10 Part Romance Story

RIVER (Specifically, the Youghiogheny River)





  1. I too have experienced a reunion with my father this year after 35 years separation caused by divorce. Here is the reunion part of the story:

    Comment by aj — August 7, 2008 @ 6:48 am | Reply

  2. Okay, I got stuck at the part where you said you were speechless. You?!?!

    Comment by Cynthia Lipsius — December 6, 2010 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

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