This post originally appeared on my “What Is a Dad” blog. This is the third part of a story that you can begin reading here.
I didn’t want to wait, so I called my dad that day.
I picked up the new number that I had and called him. He answered. He was working on his truck. From what I can tell, he was genuinely happy to talk to me. I can’t even remember most of the conversation (a photographic memory is no good when you’re a little amped up). I remember telling him about my conversation with his pastor’s wife and about my plans to go to Portland in June. I asked if he would mind meeting. He seemed excited to. He said that staying with the pastor and his wife in their guest home would be a great idea, since he didn’t have the room and we’d only be about 20 miles away from Portland.
It was pretty wild to know that we were going to have time to catch up. He had mentioned that we had eternity to get to know each other (a comforting thought because we are both believers in Jesus), but I told him, “Hey, but you’re getting a bit old; and I’d like to get to know you in this lifetime.” In the end, he genuinely thanked me for calling. I tried to deflect the thanks by saying, “Hey, thanks for answering.” He said that answering the phone wasn’t the difficult part. True.
I don’t know, I guess it was just easy for me because I had spent a lot of time thinking about how I forgave him for not being around. My mom put him out when I was a kid; and, I guess I’d say he was guilty of not trying hard enough to stick around. But, even so, nobody’s perfect– and I’m just excited to meet the guy. My faith in God being my Ultimate Father has really healed a lot of that. But, man, it will be awfully cool to meet him, especially in this season in my life.
So…there you have it. This is what’s lined up for me. The countdown begins. I know that he’s living there with his daughter (my half-sister, whom I’ve never met). And I’m pretty sure that my half-brother and many nieces and nephews (and maybe even some grand-nieces and nephews) are around. I could be meeting a whole new family that is my family. And my new family, Mary Kate and the baby, will be coming too. Wild, huh?
I don’t know if it was for shame or what, but most people don’t even know my original last name. I won’t ever go back to it because I want to honor my mom and grandpa with being a Mannino. But my name, when I was born, was Paul Thomas Huettl (pronounced “hyoo-tul,” emphasis on the first syllable). More on that later on…