The day starts out with a plane ride from Raleigh, NC to Orlando, FL. My sister, Vikki, (technically, she can be considered a half-sister, but for the first time I can remember, she has lay her own interests aside and decided to help me on my quest. There is no room for “half” there!) is pickins me up at the airport. She has offered to morally support my choice to try to meet my biological father face to face.
Let me take you back a few months before this: I had flown to Tampa, rented a car, and drove to the address had recieved from the private investigator. It was approximately an hour drive from the airport to the house, and I can’t even explain what was going through my mind on the trip. I had found the house, and driven past. There was no car in the driveway, and I saw no signs of life in the short time I had driving past. I drove around again and behind, snapping pictures so I could have a visual reminder of the house where he was supposed to live. I then drove to the end of the street and watched for signs of comings or goings in the house and neighborhood. I found myself wondering if any person I saw was or knew my father. I finally could not stay awake, and decided to drive to a hotel for the night. I returned to the neighboorhood the next morning around eight in the morning. As I passed through, I saw the car in the driveway of his house. A wave of fear, excitement, or something caused me to speed off and stop to collect myself at the end of the street again. I tried calling his cell number, again given by the private investigator, and there was no way to even leave a voicemail. I had hoped I could just let him know I was there and leave it up to him if he came out and met me or not. No answer, so I drove away.
When I shared the details of the trip with Vikki, she was impressed that I had gone, but disappointed that I had not been able to see him. She said she would have gone with me, and while it was a comfort, it did not help my own disappointment.
Fast forward then to April 9th, 2012. Vikki was in Orlando visiting her kids and grandkids, and had set a day aside to drive me to Spring Hill, Florida.
So, off we went. Vikki turned on her navigation system in the truck and we started to following the instruction to get to his house. Having not spent much time together in the recent year lent itself to plenty of subjects for discussion, and the time seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, we were turning onto the street near my father’s house. WhenI did realize it, my heart started to palpitate. We stopped at a Publix grocery to take a bathroom break before going on. The anticipation made it hard to think straight. Outside of the bathroom was a display of potted plants and flowers. One flower in particular seemed to stand out to me. It was a type of orchid, with a few blooms of a stunning color of pink. I had never seen a flower like that.
We had gotten all the way out to the truck when I decided I needed to get that plant. Now, I am know for a black thumb with plants in he recent years, so I was arguing with myself the whole way. “What are you buying this for? You will just kill it. Or are you thinking of giving it to your father? Shouldn’t he be the one buying you flowers? Are you just trying to suck up to his wife? Or maybe soften the blow of revealing who you are to her?”
As we drove to the house, I still was not sure that I could actually walk up to the door. Having the plant in my hand was a tiny distraction, enough to get me to get out and do it. Vikki knocked, and a dog started to bark inside the house. A few minutes passed by without any other sign of life. We were just ready to concede that noone was home when the door opened. A woman was there, Janelle, who introduced herself as my father’s wife. This was only after my sister tactfully blurted out, “Is George home? This is his daughter!”
Amazingly, we were welcomed in and asked to sit down. The house was beautiful inside, and it was hard to not just look around wanting to see where my father lived.