When I was less than a year old, my father decided to leave my mom and I with any form communication between him and us. Twelve years later, my mom and I learned from my father's sister that he had killed himself; this was the very first time that my mom and I had spoken to my father's family since he left and, sadly, that reconnection had to be on the terms of a death.
In the mid-summer of 2009, my mom and I were all packed and on the way to the airport for our first meeting with my father's family. We were extremely nervous; neither of us knew of anything that we would have in common with the estranged relatives. It was a long 3-hour flight — with every moment, every mile, anxiousness filled us a little bit more.
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Once the plane landed and my mom and I got out of the terminal that led into the interior of the airport, there they stood: my father’s parents, my estranged grandparents. They looked different from how I had been imagining on the flight; they looked as though they were not ordinary grandparents, the kind that would fall asleep on the couch; they seemed to be more out-going and adventurous than others.
Upon leaving the airport, my grandparents took my mom and I on a tour of Tampa. We went to a large aquarium and we finally went back to their home for dinner with the family, including my three cousins and my aunt. Growing up in a large family, my father’s side was not at all large in my opinion. This family was nice because they spoke openly about how they were feeling and what they have experienced.
My grandmother, then, led me into the living room and pulled out a photo album from a bookcase; it was of my father and it contained photographs of him as a child. The way that the album had been put together had exclaimed his personable, funny, and out-going personality, as well as having had demonstrated the love my grandparents had for my father and it was evident how much they missed him. As I continued to flip through the albums, my grandmother went back to the bookcase and pulled another album; it was mine. However, the only difference from this photo album and the other is the amount of photographs they held; mine had a very minimal amount of photographs, which skimmed through the first few years of my life, the duration of time that my grandparents and my mom stayed in contact. Despite the scanty amount of photographs of myself, my grandmother was still very proud of her creativity of displaying the photographs and she seemed to be proud of the fact that we were going to continue our relationship.
Of course, when being with new people, my mom and I were very uncomfortable and it, honestly, felt very awkward to be with family that had been estranged for so long. Throughout the entire trip, that feeling of awkwardness never went away. However, putting all negative feelings away, the trip to meet my father’s family had been a success: I met people that had been mutually affected by the tragedy of my father’s suicide and I was able to learn about somebody through people, other than my mom, who had known him for years. From this trip, I took the confidence of talking about my problems to others, and I was able to take that confidence back to Connecticut.
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