Most mothers can tell you the moment their child was born. It’s not the same for fathers. But I can tell you precisely the moment I met my daughters. It was 2:46 on a Sunday afternoon in October.
I had rushed back from church and just sat down to watch the game of the week. My Denver Broncos were playing their most despised of opponents – the Oakland Raiders. My game was interrupted by a knock on my front door.
My wife had taken our two sons to help her with grocery shopping. So I had to get up from my game to respond to that irritating knock.
I opened the door to two attractive young women. They seemed surprised.
“You’re a priest?” one queried.
In my rush to watch the game I had not removed my clerical collar.
“Well, yes I am,” I responded. Fully expecting they were a couple of young evangelists looking to tell me about the gospel.
There was a sudden and distinctly deafening pause.
“Can I help you?” I finally said.
They looked at each other. Then almost in unison burst out, “We think you’re our father!”
In an instant twenty-three years of guilt and remorse overcame me. I could not help it. Tears poured out like a river. My heart began to pound and I could not hear a sound.
We looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity. None of us knowing what to say next, but I knew in my heart they were correct.
One of the young women was a petite redhead with broad shoulders and a round face.. The other was a tall slim sandy blond.
“We’re sorry to have upset you,” said one.
They looked at each other and one said, “We’ll come back another day after you’ve had time to digest this.” And they turned to go.
“No!”, I said. “Don’t go, what makes you think I’m your father?”
“We took a DNA test and it showed we both had the same father,” said one. Followed quickly by, “And since we have different mothers, it didn’t add up,” said the other. Completing her sister’s thought.
“Why don’t you come in so we can talk,” I said wiping tears from my cheeks.
I turned off the TV as we entered the living room. The game had suddenly become unimportant as the opportunity to meet my daughters had instantly become the most important issue of my life. And wondering about exactly how I was going to explain why I had never acknowledged them in the past was causing heart palpitations.
“Let’s start with names,” I said.
At the age of 22 my two daughters, Traci and Maria introduced themselves to me for the first time. To this day, I celebrate that afternoon in October as their birthday.
Hoping their mothers had discussed the issue of my fatherhood so I could speak freely, I asked the girls about how they found me.
Traci began saying they had asked their mothers about their fathers for years but were always told they had used the services of a sperm bank.
“Our mothers are committed lesbians,” said Maria. “They are wonderful mothers but not very forthcoming about our fathers. We decided to take a DNA test about a year ago because Traci’s mom is having some health issues. Traci is concerned those issues may eventually affect her. When we got the results, we began to question their story.”
Without thinking I asked, “So, how are Lisa and Malinda doing?”
“You know our mothers!” Blurted both young women in unison.
“I do. But before I can talk to you about this, I need to talk to them. You have to understand that before you were born. I signed a contract with them that I would have no involvement in your lives. It’s a contract I have regretted ever since and the reason I became so emotional at the door.
I see your mothers in both of you. Traci, your beautiful red hair tells me you are Malinda’s daughter. You must have gotten that round face and those cute freckles on the bridge of your nose from your father. Maria, your olive complexion is like your mother Lisa, but you must have gotten that sandy blond hair and height from me. I remember both of your mothers were quite petite.
It has taken me years to find peace for what we all agreed to and seeing both of you for the first time was something I never expected.
I am your father, but you already know that. I am anxious to pour out my heart to you and to get to know you. But there are other people whose lives will be impacted by this moment.
I am married and have two young sons. My wife knows a little bit about the story, but my sons do not. They are both very young. Daniel is 12 and Jeremiah is only 8. It will come as a big surprise to them that they have two sisters. I need time to prepare them for that information. If and when your mothers agree that the time has come to end our contract.
My wife and sons could return at any moment so please give me your phone numbers and your mothers’ phone number. I would like to set up a time when we can meet together to share the story and to hopefully begin to build our common life.”
We exchanged our contact information that day and Traci and Maria left. My wife did not return for another hour. And while I was trying to watch the game, my mind was racing with the prospect of being able to restore my connection to a part of my life that I thought I had put behind me.
By the time my wife and boys came through the front door calling for help to unload the groceries, I was numb. My mind was conflicted about just how and when I was going to break this news.
I knew one thing. It was going to be a long night.
To be continued…
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