Sunday, November 16, 2008

Found but Lost

This is going to be kind of a long and sad post. As most of you know, I have never known my dad. The above two pictures are the only ones I have of him. I was 12 days old in the pictures. Through the years I have thought a lot about him. My mom never talked about him much. All I have ever known is that he and my mom met on the beach and were never married. He had some problems with drug abuse and that is the reason my mom gave for them separating. Over the years I have looked in California phone books online to try and find him. Turns out there are a lot of men named Robert Griggs. I didn't really know what else to do. I was also afraid of what I might find. In my heart I knew he'd be gone (as in passed away). I don't know why I felt this way, but for as long as I can remember I've known he was no longer with us. I recently found out that my feelings were correct and I am heart broken. It's strange how you can miss someone and something you've never even known and feel so much sorrow over it. I haven't talked about this much and not a lot of people know, but I think it will help me to share.

Not too long ago I googled my name just for fun. I thought for sure our blog would come up, which it did. Something else also came up that caught my eye. It was my maiden name on a website called Zaba Search. I had never heard of this website before, but apparently people can post messages in hopes that someone they are looking for will read it. Someone was looking for a Dalana Griggs whose mom's name was Donna. The message said that Donna was with a man named Robert in the 70's and they had a daughter together. The person who wrote the message referred to Robert (or Bobby as he was called) as their brother. They included in the message that their brother had since passed away, and that's how I learned.

With a name as different as mine and with all the other names correct, I knew I was the Dalana they were looking for. I felt so many emotions all at once. Mostly sadness that I'd never get the chance to know my father in this life, but also excitement for the chance to make contact with some of my family I've never known on that side. I also felt loved because someone from his side of the family remembered that I existed and still thought of me and cared enough to find me. It would have been neat if that person would have been my dad, but I'm grateful anyway.

I posted a message back for this person (my dad's sibling) and it turns out it was a younger half brother of his. We emailed back and forth and just this last week we talked on the phone. My emotions have been all over the place. It's kind of hard to sort through it all and to know exactly what to make of it. My dad died about 10 years ago of heart and drug related problems. He was never fully able to remain clean. From what I understand, he would do good for a while and then return to drugs and alcohol. Kind of sad that in the end that is what took his life. He struggled with his addictions his whole life basically. He did marry twice and ended up having two more children. I have two brothers, one named Bobby Jr. and another named Pier. One of the boys' mothers was Hispanic and the other ones mother was from Central America. They both live in California and are somewhere around 18 and 21 years old. This uncle I've been talking with (Steve) has tried to keep in contact with them, but has lost track. It's strange to think I have 2 brothers out there somewhere. I wonder if we look alike and if we are the same at all? My dad's mother and father have both passed too, along with a half sister. There's another half brother of his still living and a few cousins from what I understand. Kind of sad, but his sister passed of drug related problems also and his mother (my paternal grandmother) passed away of lung problems from a life time of smoking. I am so grateful the gospel came into my life as a teenager and steered me away from these behaviors. With my family history, I'm genetically predisposed to having addictions to those kinds of things. Even if I only had tried them once, I could have been hooked. Scary.

I could go on and on about my feelings and the things I've found out from talking to Steve about my dad and their side of the family. Even though he's not living anymore, my love for him has increased the more I've learned about him. It's made me mourn more for the dad I never had the chance to know and the relationship we never had. Just for fun, here are a few random things I've found out about him.
~ His hair was naturally as curly as the above pictures show (that's not a perm)! I only got an annoying wave and frizziness.
~He was quite athletic in track and field and in football he was a good kicker and kicked the best bare footed. Again, I got none of the athleticism.
~He served in the military.
~He worked in a machine shop and learned to be a good machinist.
~He was a staight A student.
~His mother had him when she was only 14 or 15 years old. From what I understand, her brother served in the war and came home for a visit and brought a friend along. She got pregnant by the friend during that visit. Some wanted her to give the baby up for adoption. She didn't, and never heard from the guy again. My dad never had a relationship with his own father to pattern that kind of a relationship after.
~We look alike and even my kids look like him. I emailed Steve some of our family pictures and he said he couldn't get over how much we looked alike. He called his family in to take a look and they all agreed that I looked like him all right. He said even my kids have his features. Kind of weird that someone we don't even know is such a part of us.

Sounds like a good guy with some serious struggles. I'm grateful that one day I'll have the chance to get to know him and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm grateful for two amazing fathers for my children. I'm grateful for George Parker and the good father figure he was for me during my teenage years. I'm grateful for two honorable father in laws who I couldn't love more. I'm grateful for this new found uncle and for his efforts and interest in trying to find me. When I asked him what he thought made him want to keep in touch, he just said he's always wondered why some families don't stay close. I look forward to keeping in touch with him. Most of all, I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father who has always been there for me and for the opportunity I have had to form a relationship with him. I know that he has never lost track of me nor will he.


Emily said...

That was beautiful, Delana. I didn't know the story of your father. I'm so sorry you never had the opportunity to know him before he passed away. How neat that you are getting to know some of his family now and finding out more about him. He really missed out not knowing you. You are such an amazing person and an inspiration, really. I think you are stronger than you realize. Thanks for sharing this story, it really touched me.

ManicMandee said...

Wow that hair is really something! Too bad you didn't inherit that.
I'm sorry he's passed away. But I am glad you have been able to learn more about him. I wonder your uncle could get you more photos of him. And where does he live and what does he do? You could probably have the temple work done for your dad now too right?

Dalana and Mark said...

Hey Amanda! To answer your questions, my uncle lives in California and is an owner of a machine shop. Thanks for reminding me, I can do the temple work for my dad now I think. That's a positive thing. I have already asked him for some photos, so hopefully he'll get some to me.

Hot Pants said...

I have always wondered about your dad. I remember you always saying how Bob wanted you to find him. I am so sorry he passed away before you got that chance, but what a great feeling to know his family had you in their thoughts. I am excited to hear more, and see more pictures!

Areesa said...

Wow, Dalana! Thank you for sharing that post. I needed to hear that. It was very touching, I was in tears at the end. It makes me appreciate certain aspects of my life in a way I hadn't thought of before. Thanks for being so open! I'm so glad that you have a way to learn about your dad through his brother. That is priceless information. Its neat that you look so much like him, and that you have passed that legacy onto your kids.

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