Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Journey to Now - Part 1

I decided a few days ago, I wanted to recount my life experience up til now. A little way to fill everyone in on my past. My new family and I know each other as who we are today, and will know each other for who we will become in the future. But no one knows how I've gotten to today. This first post will be my earliest memories. Before we moved from Ohio.

My first memories of life are of when Mom and I lived at Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Mick's house. I recall spending most of my time there, mostly with Grandma. Grandpa was a truck driver, and was gone for a few days at a time. I can remember spending a lot of time with Grandma because Mom was at work.

I can remember running errands with Grandma, cooking and watching t.v. One of the memories that sticks out the most is sitting in the family room, on Grandma's lap watching Heathcliff and Press Your Luck and eating grapes. I recall family dinners around the table with Mom, Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Rob.

One of my favorite things to do was when we heard Grandpa pull in the driveway from work, I would hide behind the couch or chair, and jump out when he walked in the door. I would also hide little cars or toys in his shoes while he was getting ready for work, and then when he put his shoes on to leave, he'd always act so surprised and laugh when he put his foot in his shoe.

I also remember spending time with my Great Grandma Dorie. She was my Grandpa's mom. I remember helping her cook. She would always let me "mash the potatoes" when we cooked. She would put them in the mixer and start it up. It was my job to keep an eye on them. When ever I use a mixer to this day, I ALWAYS immediately think of her. I remember sifting flour when we made peanut butter cookies on her big farm kitchen table. It was always my job to use the for to put the marks in the cookies. My favorite food to eat of hers was her homemade macaroni. I remember loving to go to her refridgerator and finding a leftover bowl and eating the cold macaroni straight from it.

Dinners (lunch) at Grandma Dorie's were the best. I can remember sitting around the table, Grandma at the head of the table on the left of me, and Grandpa at the head of the table to my right. When we were all there, usually on a Sunday, dinners would include them, me, Mom, Grandpa and his brother Bill, Uncle Rob. I absolutely love remembering all those family members around the table.

When I was at Grandma Dorie's, my afternoons were spent with Grandpa Bob on his bed. He had a hospital bed set up in his bedroom, which was directly across from Grandma's bedroom. I would curl up with him in his bed after dinner and we'd listen to Paul Harvey. Some days we'd go sit outside in the swing under the tree. I'd play with one of the many cats, or ride a trike up and down the sidewalk. Those have got to be some of my fondest, earliest memories.

When I got a bit older, I remember going to Preschool at a lady's house outside of Dupont. It was an okay place, I have some deep rooted resentment from a couple kids that went there too. I can remember having music time, where we could pick an instrument from the shelf to play while we sang songs. I ALWAYS wanted to use the tambourine. There was one girl who would NEVER let me have it. If she didn't get it and keep it for herself, she would get it and give it to one of her friends. I also remember going downstairs into a room and playing Farmer in the Dell before parents came to pick us up. I always wanted SO desperately to be picked. The WHOLE time I attended that preschool, I was NEVER picked. The same kids always picked the SAME kids to go in the middle. This all wasn't enough for me to not enjoy preschool, for the most part. I would go every day with my hopes up, but it was just never in the cards for me.

When I was two or three, Mom went on a trip to Hawaii to visit her cousin who was there in the Navy. I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa at home. I remember being in the family room one day. Grandpa and Uncle Rob were there watching tv. Grandma was in the kitchen cooking. Grandma called out to Rob to get her a Coke from the garage. The door to the garage is in the family room, and it's a big step down to the cement garage floor. At that time, Coke was still in glass bottles. Nobody but me heard her. I said "I'll get it..." but nobody was still paying attention. I remember opening the door, and kneeling down. One hand on the door frame, and one hand reaching out into the garage. I had my hand on the bottle, and was about to stand up when I lost my balance. I fell out onto the garage floor, bottle in hand. It shattered in my grasp, and then there was the blood. The next thing I remember is sitting on my Grandma's lap, Grandpa driving the van as fast as he could to Defiance. The next thing I remember after that is being back in the emergency room. I was hysterical. They had to ask my grandparents to leave. They put me partially in a straight jacket. They needed to sew my right hand up. Had the cut been any bigger, my thumb would have been barely hanging on my hand. I remember having a big thing of gauze wrapped around my hand for weeks while my hand healed. To this day I have a crescent shaped scar, and scars where they had stitched my hand up.

I think it was not long after that incident that Mom and I moved out. Mom got a place in town, in Oakwood. It was a small cottage, but it was finally a place of our own. I can remember being in the kitchen while she made dinner, or while we were eating or cleaning up from dinner. Mom had a friend who lived a couple doors down, and from our dining room window, we could see into their kitchen. I always found it fascinating to watch through their window. Mom would always call me a "Peeping Tom", which I always thought was absolutely hilarious.

Not long after that, we moved into a trailer that was put in the yard next to Grandma Dorie's house. I can remember when everyone worked on the trailer to get it ready for us to move in. I can remember trying to help Grandpa hammer - trying being the key word. I absolutely remember smacking him in the finger with the hammer.

As I have said in a previous post, it was around this time that I started to realize that my small family was minus a member. Realizing I didn't have a father in my life was nothing more than a few quick thoughts here and there at this point. It wasn't something that I put much thought into yet.

My days were spent outside a lot. I loved to be outside. I can remember running around the yard, there was so much space. I would go out behind the barn and the chicken coops, in search of Mother Nature. I distinctly remember at that age, I thought she was real. I believe she was a little fairy lady, and that one day I'd find her. I can remember sneaking around trees, sheds, the back corner of the barn - hoping one day I'd be quite enough to see her growing a flower, or putting some dew on the grass.

If I wasn't searching for Mother Nature, I was probably playing with the cats. There were always lots of cats outside. Farm cats. And they were my friends. I had them all named, and I just adored them.

It was also then that my world was about to be changed. I can remember being at Grandma Sandy's house, sitting on the couch with Mom. I remember Grandma was in the kitchen. Mom told me that we were going to be moving away. With that one statement, my world shattered. I knew nothing outside our small rural town. I had all these people here who cared about me, and moving far away was not anything I wanted to hear about.

Mom was going to marry a guy she had met on her trip to Hawaii, and had kept in contact with. He lived in Washington state at the time, and was in the Navy. I remember screaming. Crying. Absolutely REFUSING to go. All I knew was it meant that I was not going to get to see my grandparents anymore, and it destroyed my little world.

I have two memories after that, before we left. I have no idea time frame wise how quickly she told me we were moving, before we actually did. I remember meeting him when he came to the trailer for the first time. I also remember we left shortly before my fifth birthday. I remember having a huge early birthday party that year. Not only was it a birthday party, but a goodbye party. I remember lots of people being there, and having a good time. But I also remember being painfully sad that I was not going to see these people for a long time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Just a bit from my heart....

I can't believe I've found my dad. I've said this a million times, and it's a statement most people probably aren't surprised to hear. But I think unless you are standing in my shoes, you don't really GET the gravity of that statement.

When you go your whole life without having your biological father, he sort of becomes this dream. You know you SHOULD have a father, and that realistically there IS a person out there that helped create you. But you know nothing about him, you don't have a name or a face. You begin to wonder if maybe this is just some imaginary situation you've created in your head.

I after I got married and had kids, I always said I didn't need my father. I had my own family now, and I thought they filled the void in my heart that had existed for so long. My husband and I started some marriage counseling, and I had a few personal sessions on my own. It was through the work that I did with the counselor, that I came to realize I do need this. I do need to at least try. That taking this step, and doing this for ME, it will help heal other areas of my life, and help me be healthier for my marriage.

I am so grateful that I had this change of heart. I can remember being a little girl and being so sad when I'd go over to a friend's house and see them be close with their dads. All I ever wanted was to be a Daddy's Girl. I always wanted to feel that special bond.

I am so hopeful that my dad and I will get close. 27 years may have been missed out on, but I'm hoping that there are 27 more to fill with so many laughs, tears and memories. I have so much of my life left to share, and I can't wait to do that with my new branch on my family tree.

Sometimes when I get a text from him, it completely throws me for a loop. Something as small as seeing a contact listed as 'Dad' in my cell phone absolutely makes my day. I have a dad. I have a dad who is now a part of my life.

To be able to say that is absolutely AMAZING.

My Buddy and Me...

The drive back to Ohio was an awesome adventure. It was just the two of us in the car, with nothing better to do than talk. And talking is what we did. We shared more stories, experiences, anything that came to mind. We were just rediculously excited to be with each other.

That weekend we were attached at the hip. I drug him around town and showed him off to co-workers, friends, family. Of course there were those who didn't know the story, and that I was looking for family, so I would get super excited to tell the story again. It made me overjoyed to be able to share this story with everyone. A story I always dreamed I'd be able to tell.

The weekend came to a quick end. Before we knew it, it was time to take him back home. We had discussed our future. Since we were now a permanent fixture in each other's lives. He had to go back to his obligations with the military. The more and more time went on, he realized this was not what he wanted. He had a strong pull in his heart to be here, in Ohio. We talked all weekend about it. By the time I dropped him off back home in Tennessee, he was sure that the military was not for him. That he was going to get his ducks in a row, and that he would soon be back in Ohio for good.

I had always told him I didn't want to be the reason behind his decision. That whatever he did needed to be for him, and because it's what he wanted. I won't lie, I did tell him I'd love for him to move up here with me, and that if he went through with joining the military that I was saddened by the fact that this may be the first and last time we would have time to spend together for years. That thought was too much for me, and he soon realized it was too much for him too. Not only had we hit it off, but my kids loved him right off the bat. We also have family in the area, so that would be another plus.

We chatted with Dad for a while, about his feelings and his decision. Dad joked about me not bringing him back sooner - that he was shocked I hadn't gotten tired of him sooner. Yet again, I could not believe I was standing there with my Dad and brother. I couldn't believe, again, how quickly this happened, and how easily it had progressed. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want to let them go. I was terrified that if they were not within arms reach, they'd change their mind and be gone from my life as quickly as they entered...

With lots of hugs, and many reassurances from him that he would be back, I got back into the car. It was a quick trip down and back, it had to be done in the same day. It was one of the most painful moments of my life. I cried as I drove away. It took everything in me to drive the car down the road and get on the highway. I wanted to turn around and run back to them. My brother says the same thing about that moment. He cried as I drove away, and wished with everything in him that I'd turn around and demand that he come back with me right then and there.

There were a few phone calls, and many texts during the drive home. As much as we were saddened with the day's departure, we were alive with excitement for his return.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And Then We Met....

The next few days were nothing but a blur. We would talk for hours on end. If we weren't on the phone with each other, it's all we thought about. We wanted to get to know everything we could about each other as quickly as possible.

The more we learned about each other, the crazier things got. We are so similiar it's hard to believe. We both were insanely obsessed with Top Gun as children - we watched it multiple times a day. It also peaked our interest to want to be Naval Aviators when we grew up. No one will watch the movie with us now to this day because we recite the lines about five minutes before they happen - word for word... and get all amped up and excited.

We also both did Athletic Training in high school, and started college with Athletic Training as our majors.

We do the same quirky things, that we were for sure no one else in the world did. It makes me feel so at home around him. It's like hanging out with myself all the time. My friends say the same thing.... when they hang out with the two of us at the same time, it's like Double Brandi all the time.

At the time he was planning on leaving for the Navy in July, and we felt like our time was super limited. We decided that we needed to meet as soon as possible. He was already planning on coming up here to Ohio with the family in June for a family reunion, but we decided that we couldn't wait that long.

We got everything together and lined up, and the following weekend I was going to drive down to Tennesse and pick him up to bring him to Ohio to spend the weekend. The week crept by, we were both SO excited to finally get to meet each other.

The drive to Tennessee seemed never ending. It was a seven hour drive. The farther I got into the drive, it seemed like I wasn't getting any closer. All I wanted was to get there and be in his arms. He talked to me the whole way down. He wouldn't let me tell him where I was, because it only made him realize how far away I still was. He only wanted to know when I had gotten into Tennessee.

When I finally got off the highway, and onto his road, I wanted to turn around a go back. Not only was I about to meet my brother, I was about to meet my dad. My stomach was in my throat. I couldn't handle the nerves or anticipation. I finally pulled up to the house, and there he was... waiting outside. I got out of the car and hugged him. And hugged him. It was one of the single most comforting moments of my life. I will never forget it for the world.

I finally felt like I belonged. I belonged in a world I was not sure would ever exist for me. He walked me up to the house, to where I met my father. We chatted for a bit, exchanged contact information. It all seemed so surreal. I felt SO at ease around these two men that I had just met minutes before. An ease I had longed for for SO long. An ease I feared I would never know.

We had to get going to make a dinner date, and as we were leaving it happened. I hugged my father for the first time in my life. Next to getting married and having my children, that was THE best feeling of my life.

The First Day of the Rest of My Life....

I got home from work a little after 10pm Thursday night. It was the longest shift of my life. I couldn't get out of that store fast enough.

I flew home and grabbed my computer as soon as I got in the door. I logged into Facebook and there it was. The message I had been waiting for. My hands shook. I wanted to read it, but I didn't. I was afraid of what it would say. I took a deep breath and started to read.

The more I read, the bigger the smile got on my face - the more the tears poured down my cheeks. I had indeed found my brother. I found my brother I didn't even know existed 24 hours prior. I found my brother.... who lived with OUR dad. It was one thing to know that I had found Geordie. It was another to know that he was in direct contact with our dad.

He told me he was semi aware that he had a sibling out there, but he wasn't for sure. He assured me he wanted to get to know me, and would do anything in his power to help me get in contact with our dad and start a relationship - if that's what he and I wanted.

I was over the moon. In less than 24 hours my world changed drastically. I went from having a whole piece of me missing, to stumbling upon it on the internet. And to have him be so willing and just as excited as I was, made it all the more better.

I remember taking my laptop into my room and crawling into my bed. All of the sudden my heart skipped a beat - he instant messaged me on Facebook. We talked for what seemed like hours. It felt so comfortable, and it seemed like there wasn't 24 years missing from our lives.

What Do I Do Now???

As I sat there and stared at his profile, I knew there was nothing I could do then, not at that hour of night. I decided to go to bed and think about what I wanted to do. I KNEW just looking at him that he was my brother. His face unmistakably resembled the face in the yearbook I had found a few months prior. I was compelled to write him. But I had no idea what to say. My head swam with thoughts the rest of the night. I don't think I got more than an hour or two of sleep before my kids woke up.

That morning when I got up, I decided to write to him. I didn't want to give to much information at first... I was afraid to scare him off, or make him mad. The first message I sent him was, word for word....

"i was wondering what your parents names are......

thanks! "

I hesitated hitting send. Doubted going that route. Scared of what would happen next. I figured it would be a day or two until I heard anything back - if ever. Boy was I shocked when in just a few short hours, I had a reply.

"that is a weird question for not knowing me i will need to know why"

At this point I was afraid he wouldn't cooperate. I was afraid of what to say next. I knew it was time to come out with the truth. I was so afraid no one knew anything about me, afraid I was about to rock his world. I was afraid he'd get mad at me and stop contacting me. I knew honesty was the best route. So I began typing my response.

I told him who I was, and that I was looking for my real father. I told him the information I had on my real father, and that I wasn't out to hurt anyone or cause problems. I just wanted to know who my real dad is. My heart was pounding as I hit the send button. I waited, and waited for a response. Nothing. It got to be almost 4:00pm and I had to leave for work. My stomach was so tied up in knots that I had to go to work with no answer. It's all I could think about at work. I kept checking Facebook on my cell phone. Nothing.

I thought for sure I had scared him off. I just wanted to get home and get online.

Someone Pinch Me....

This blog was supposed to document the journey and process of finding my real father. After a huge stroke of luck, this blog is taking a different turn. There will be no process, there will be no journey. I found him. By pure luck. It wasn't hard. It wasn't a lengthy process.

Here's the beginning of the story.

April 15th, 2010... it was about 1:00 am. I was up and couldn't sleep. I was watching tv and surfing the web. A commercial came on for a background check site. I really didn't pay much attention until I realized it was a site I hadn't used before. I thought "What the heck, I haven't searched for information in a week or two." I typed the address into Firefox, and plugged in the information.

I was a bit disappointed to see the same information that I got through any other search I tried. Just as I was ready to navigate away from the site when something caught my eye. There it was. Under the 'Alias' section. A different name than I had ever seen listed before. It was close enough to George that I figured it was probably a nickname or something. Since I hadn't searched that name before, I went to Facehook and plugged it in.

The page refreshed, and my life changed in an instant. There was a Geordie Larsen. A Geordie Larsen in TN. A Geordie Larsen in Morristown, TN. A Geordie Larsen 3 years younger than me, and who looked so strikingly similar to the father I have been searching for, I knew immediately. I knew immediately I found my BROTHER.

I sat and stared at my laptop screen for what seemed like forever. I felt paralyzed. Paralyzed with fear, joy, excitment. I looked at the clock, and it was almost 2:00am. There was no one I could call. Everyone was asleep. No one was online. I had to share this with someone. My heart was pounding out of my chest.

I ran into my bedroom, laptop in tow, and woke my husband up. I showed him the picture. "I think I just found my brother." He looked at me like I had two heads - I should have known better... you can't converse with him when you wake him up. I knew he probably wouldn't remember any of it when he woke up that morning, but I had to tell someone.

For the next couple hours I sat with his Facebook profile on my screen. Just looking at his pictures. I had this unbelievable sense of peace looking at his face. Wondering what in the world to do next.

Friday, January 29, 2010

When I First Realized I Didn't Have a Father...

My life early on was good. Even though my mom had me at 17 - in the middle of her senior year of high school, I was well provided for. Obviously my mom was there for me, but so were my maternal grandparents, and both sets of great grandparents, along with a few other family members.

My mom and I lived with her parents for the first couple years. My grandparents spoiled me immensely. They also loved me to the moon and back. It was really like I had two moms - Grandma and Mom. Grandpa was, and still is the strongest father figure in my life. He wasn't home a lot because of his career, but when he was I was the center of his world. At that time, I knew Grandpa was just my grandpa, but looking back on it now I realize just how much he did for me. My mom and grandparents made sure all my wants and needs were met. I couldn't have asked for a better first few years.

I think it was when I was about three, Mom and I moved out of my grandparents' house and into a trailer that was on my great grandparents' (my grandpa's mom and dad) farm. It was also around that time that I started going to preschool, and spending time at my cousin's house playing. My world was growing from just my life inside my grandparents' house.

As I was out in the world more, I became more aware of things around me. I began to realize there was more to my little world than my mom and grandparents. I can remember being at home in our trailer one day playing. I remember exactly where I was standing when it dawned on me that people are supposed to have a "dad". There was no one in my life that I called "dad". I can remember thinking it was strange. I wondered why I didn't have a dad. It was at that point that I first realized my life was different.

I don't think at that pint the longing for a father had begun. I can't imagine that I fully understood the role a father played in someone's life. I just knew it was something, or someone, that most people had, and I did not.

It blows my mind that at three and four years of age, I was having that kind of internal dialouge with myself. My son is four now, and I can't fathom him contemplating such life issues and trying to figure out their answers at that age.

I'm not saying the absence of my father ruined my first few years of life. It just laid the ground work for many issues that had come up later in my childhood, and still now in my adult life. As I come to grips with these issues, I realize they are things that need to be worked through. Some things I can fix with a little counseling and some self reflection.

Other issues are a little deeper. Some are a result of questions I have that I personally can't answer. Only one person can answer those questions and that's the reason for this journey.

Before having any information on my father, I was never sure if I needed him in my life. I knew I wanted a name, and most definitely a picture, but there was a huge possibility that was all I needed. That after having that information, I could close the chapter on that portion of my life. It's not like I'd be out anything if I decided not to search - I've went my whole life so far without him, so what's the rest of my life?

After getting a name and a picture, I new without a doubt the search wasn't over. I knew I needed more. I'm working on the issues I can fix myself, but there are still questions only he has the answers to. And then there's his arms. "His arms," you ask? Yes his arms, the arms of a daddy. Those are the only arms that can give me the type of hug and acceptance I've been searching for for 27 years. That hug and acceptance are two of the first things I do remember longing for.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Taking the first step...

My name is Brandi. I am 27 years old. I have a wonderful husband who would do anything for me. I also have two beautiful children. My son is four, and my daughter is 2. We own our own home. We both have decent jobs. All that aside, there is a huge hole in my heart. Why, you ask?

I do not know my birth father. I have been on this earth for 27 years and one month exactly today. It wasn't until six days ago that I even knew my birth father's name. It wasn't until five days ago that I saw a picture of my birth father. I always told myself that I didn't need him in my life. That a name, or a picture would be enough. After being completely honest with myself, I came to realize I need more than that. I need to have at least put forth the effort to find him. If I find him and he doesn't want anything to do with me, it will crush my world but at least I know I tried. If we can form some kind of relationship, even if not the best, my life long dream will have been fulfilled. I want a father.

This blog will document this process. It will be updates of information I've found, resources used, and my feelings on the process. Some posts will be wrote in letter for to my father, things that I would like to say to him, questions I have for him, etc. I hope for it to not only be a place for me to vent my emotions and feelings throughout the journey, but to hopefully be an inspiration to someone else in my shoes - either a child looking for a parent, or a parent looking for a child.

It sort of feels like I'm playing a big game of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, except it would be 'Where in the World is George L. Larsen III?'