June 7, 2014 by Renee Griffin
The first year with my birth family felt like I was feeling around a dark room that seemed somewhat familiar. The challenge of adoption reunions is you know so much about your birth family based on self-knowledge, but you know nothing about them based on life experiences.
I spent hundreds of hours on the phone with my birthfather working my way through these relationship hurdles. Yes, hundreds. Each time we talked, it was a minimum time limit of one hour. Usually it was more. He liked to talk. I loved hearing his voice. Nothing thrilled me more than hearing him answer the phone with “Hey there, Babygirl!”
We were working our way through the awkwardness all new relationships bring and establishing a friendship.
As I have shared before, he was legally blind. His eyesight had been diminished by a rare disorder, and seeing me was literally one of his last views. So, when he called around midnight one weekend shouting into the phone, “I can see, I can see!!!”, I was stunned. The hubs took the call and quickly brought the phone to me. Something had happened and amazingly, my birthfather regained some vision. He was practically shouting into the phone. His voice was several octaves above his normal pitch and his raspy, slow rhythmic drawl was replaced with a rapid staccato. He was running through his house describing every detail that his once faded sight was now beholding. “I can see every little cut and edge in the glass of the light fixture!”, he yelled into the phone. He was breathing heavy and shouting descriptions of every object in his path. I gripped the phone listening as my eyebrows crinkled and my eyes darted from side to side. I honestly didn’t know what to make of the call. A mixture of happiness combined with concern filled my heart. Was this real? Was he okay or maybe totally losing it? I wasn’t sure.
We stayed on the line for a while. I sat in my dark, quiet house listening as he ran through his house turning on all the lights and laughing and looking. He was beside himself. I was of course thrilled, but confused. I asked him to go see a doctor, and he promised that he would. We ended the call, and I had a hard time going back to sleep.
When I talked to him the next day and his vision was still the same, I began to breathe a bit. He had calmed down some, but the utter joy over his returned sight was radiating from him.
I praised and thanked God with him for this miracle.
The next week his life was different.
He did several things that years of blindness had prevented him from doing.
One important thing he did was take a cab to visit his mama at the nursing home. Without sight, he had been without transportation for many years. Tears well up in my eyes thinking about him going on this visit.
Oh, how he loved his mama.
With some of his vision returned, no longer held back by darkness, his first trip was to see her. They never shared the details of this visit with me. I can only imagine. Some moments are better left to one’s own imagination. I do know that during his visit his gave her his gold necklace with a gold cross pendant. She put it around her neck that day and that is where it stayed.
My friend and fellow private investigator, Laura, came through town the next weekend and stopped in for a visit with my birth father. She was the first one to make contact with him during our search and rescue mission. They talked on the phone quite regularly. He named us the “Mutt & Jeff Detective Agency.” When he told her about his new vision, she promised to come by and see him.
During her visit, they took a long drive. He wanted to go out into the world he’d missed.
As they drove along back country roads with the windows down, he took off his favorite cowboy boots and threw them in the back seat of her car. He told Laura to give them to her son. I don’t know what prompted him to give away his favorite boots, but my guess is he had plans for a new pair.
New vision leads to new journeys, and new journeys need new boots.
He propped his bare feet up on the dashboard of her car as they rode around. There’s a phrase I think of when I imagine their road trip together.
They were on a “joy ride”.
He was overflowing with joy as he rode and looked out the window drinking in sights that most of us take for granted. God blessed him with big time joy that day.
As he adjusted to his new level of sight, he spent most of his days outside on his back deck basking in the sunlight. He wrote me letters from there. One said this…
I am sitting my old “behind” on the deck with my toes in the sunshine, smiling and thinking of YOU!
So, when you get this—-SMILE Babygirl!
Your Old Man
All was bright and brilliant in his life as a lonely, blind man who had been trapped in darkness turned his face into the light of day.
His world had changed.
And then, within a few days of the one year anniversary of finding my birth father, I lost him again.
Without warning, he died.