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Haunting Memories

Updated on October 12, 2019

He has dark hair with a receding hairline. Medium build. A dimple in his chin and he looks great in his orange flight suit. It's funny - I don't remember his eyes. Not the color, the shape or the emotion.

I've spent every emotion I possess on his memory, yet I don't recall the emotion in his eyes. Did he have any? Or did he have so much that it makes the pain even greater to remember? What has caused me to hang on all these years?

My memories of our relationship are good ones. Yet, my memories of his and my mom's aren't. All I remember between them is arguing. She was as much a child as I was, having given birth to me at the tender age of 18. But something has made him grasp my mind everyday for the past 19 years. His memory has gotten in the way of my ability to love. I'm afraid the person with whom I may fall in love, will leave me. Again. It's not fair that his memory has haunted and hindered me all these years.

Has he experienced any of this? I hope so!

I remember my excitement and pride as he brought thunderous life to his fighter jet. I didn't know it was a fighter plane, at the time. I just knew he was important and I was proud that he was my daddy!

I remember riding in a speed boat with him and thinking we were hitting rocks on the bottom of the water, but it was merely the water being slapped by the boat's speed. I remember a huge box stuffed with a Kodak camera, a sari, chopsticks, a matador doll and bull - all shipped from Viet Nam - all for me! Wow! - he really (still) loved me! Or did he? Does he still? Does he remember he helped create me? Am I really a part of him or was I just the result of a feat conquered?

I intend to find the answers to all my questions, so I can get on with my life and live in peace.


Update: it took another 15 years of emotional pain and unanswered questions for me to finally look for Daddy, despite the repercussions I may suffer with my mother. When our son was 4, my husband encouraged me to look for my father and get answers to my lifelong pain and wondering. It wasn't easy. When my mom remarried, her new husband unselfishly, lovingly adopted me and my brother and a few years later, blessed us with the birth our precious sister. (I truly love him. He gave us a good life and loves us higher than a star!) What I don't understand is, my birth certificate was revised to reflect my new dad as the man who had fathered me. Why can't birth certificates be amended to reflect the custody/name change? Why negate the original birth??? Upon contacting the courthouse of the city in which I was adopted, I was told my original birth certificate had been sealed and only my mom could authorize it's release. This wasn't going to happen and I didn't want to hurt Dad by asking, so I set about my search with only the memories of a 6 year old little girl to guide me. To this day, I don't understand how a legal document can be falsified like that. I remember my original birth certicate to be larger than 8 1/2" x 11", with my newborn footprints on the bottom and a raised seal, certifying my birth. My current birth certificate is a 7" x 6" microfiched document stamped and certified by the state in which I was born as being "an exact photographic copy of the original certificate filed in the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Texas Department of Health, Austin, Texas." How is this possible? And legal?! Why not issue a Certificate of Adoption and leave the birth certificate as originally, truthfully documented??

The Search

Back to the point: Because of Daddy's rank and status with the USAF, his current location was not public information. My son's father suggested I begin with my local congressman, since my attempts were leading me nowhere, no matter how hard I pleaded with the officials with whom I spoke. In January of 1997, I sent a pleading letter to my local Congress Representative, giving him all the information I could offer: birth date and place of birth, same for my brother, mother's maiden name, Daddy's position with the Air Force when we got divorced and where we last lived as a family. To my delight, my Congressman responded to my letter, letting me know he'd contacted the Air Force and would get back to me when he had a reply. I had also contacted the UN with my plea. They were very compassionate and contacted the Air Force as well, and encouraged them to work with my Congressman to help in my search. The Department of the Air Force conducted a worldwide search on my behalf and found him! However, due to the Privacy Act of 1974, his location could not be revealed. The Department sent a letter to my Congressman on 2/12/97, waiving the locator fee and instructed him to have me write a letter to Daddy and send to them. They would in turn, forward my letter. The rest would be up to him.

1963 USAF Flight Suit
1963 USAF Flight Suit | Source
Daddy's flight suit.  Talked him into giving it to me on our last visit.
Daddy's flight suit. Talked him into giving it to me on our last visit. | Source
Daddy achieved the 1st to log 1,000 hours in the F-106.
Daddy achieved the 1st to log 1,000 hours in the F-106. | Source


On March 2nd, 1997, the day before my 40th birthday, I received a phone call from Daddy! We were both in tears! He flew me out to see him and later that year, came to Florida for my son's 5th birthday, which ironically, was how old my brother was the last time he saw him!

Finally overriding my fears of probable conflict with my mother, I followed my heart and found Daddy. It turned out well, although it could have gone the other way. I was prepared for the worst; I needed resolution to my life of wonder, hostility and bitterness. After all, I was now a mother. How could I give to my son and teach him morals, compassion and love when I was so bitter myself? I'm pleased to say, I and my son have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Daddy since that day. I have two loving fathers and my son, who lost his father four years ago to cancer, and his paternal grandparents recently, still has two grandfathers in his life.

Now my heart can rest and offer love instead of feeling pain, resentment and bitterness.

Happy Endings

Follow Your Heart

I encourage any of you who have a lost love, parent, child, sibling, anyone whose loss is tearing at your heartstrings, don't wait. Listen to your heart. Find that person and have your questions answered. Don't let the real or imagined reaction of others delay your search. After all, they have no idea the pain you feel. In fact, they probably chastise you for clinging to memories they've forgotten or want to forget. Don't listen to them, listen to yourself. Regain the time lost. Chances are, your lost love feels the same pain and emptiness as you! Don't let unanswered questions or "what ifs" cause you lifetime strife and heartache. Be brave. Be assertive. Don't wait until it's too late!

Word of advice: be compassionate when your life decisions encompass the lives of others. When I divorced my son's father (ironically at age 6), I promised both of them I'd never keep them apart. I know how it felt. I would NEVER inflict that on someone I love. My divorce was mine, not my son's. He had a hard enough time dealing with his parents no longer living together. Don't let your bitterness suppress or negatively affect your children's emotions. It's way too painful! Trust me, I know.



Shauna L Bowling

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Shauna L Bowling


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