His Angel

Jim Lai Khe.jpg

 

“He didn’t want you to be given up.”

Lori, my sister-in-law, Thursday night.

She was speaking of Jim, my birth father, and words he had spoken to her years ago about me–the child he called “his Angel.”

I didn’t know any of this.

I grew up knowing I was adopted. I grew up feeling like some essential part of me was somehow wrong, somehow missing. Off-kilter, out of step with the rest of the world. If the very people who created me were willing to give me away to strangers, then who would, really, want me?

But now I know Jim wanted me. And that has made all the difference.

I’ve cried a lot the last day and a half. Tears of finally feeling accepted. Tears of belonging. Not sad tears, at all. Tears of a sort of relieved joy—a feeling of fitting in at last to the place where I came from.

I have a picture of Jim from 1969, three years before I was born. The picture was taken at Lai Khe, South Vietnam. Jim is young and blond and confident-looking, leaning against a jeep with a cigarette in his hand. He has my cheeks. He has my chin. He has my hair. One of his grandsons, too, has my cheeks and hair. Mind-blowing, after a lifetime of being physically different than everyone in my family.

I never met Jim. He died before I was able to. We had a complex relationship in the years between my finding him and his death. He never told me what he told Lori. He never told me a lot of things.

He never told me I was his Angel.

But through the years, I’ve often thought of him as mine.

I miss you, Jim. Thank you for your words. I’ve heard you now, and it matters.

 

2 thoughts on “His Angel

  1. Alison VanderMolen

    I found out 10 years ago that my father had been married prior to his marriage to my mother, AND that he had an older daughter, my half sister. I cannot begin to explain the mixture of feelings this revelation brought forth in my mind. Sadly, I found out after my father had passed away so I was unable to ever discuss with him. Not the exact same as your situation and a few years prior to my birth in 1961. However, the similarities are that in that day and age, things were vastly different than todays honesty. I think the hardest thing to fathom was HOW could my father have kept this hidden from his daughter – the one that thought she knew her father so well. YOU are a SPECIAL person and you ARE wanted, regardless of the circumstances of your birth. GLAD you FEEL wanted NOW!

    Like

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