I called my Dad today. We hadn't spoken for almost 4 years. We didn't fall out. There was no argument - he just dropped off the planet one day. Disappeared. The only thing I had left of our friendship was an old pic from my graduation.
I hadn't planned on today being "find Dad" day. Suz was writing Xmas cards and was wondering if we should send a card to my Dad's last known address. I wasn't sure. Before I knew it Suz had run a search on BT online and had a list of all telephone numbers for every Michael Wheatley listed in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. There were 10.
Looking through the list I found myself wondering if my old man was behind one of those numbers. I could have done the same thing numerous times over the years but I never did. Part of me didn't want to. I didn't want to know if the reason that we lost touch was because that's what he wanted. After all, our once best friend relationship had been strained at best. My parents divorce was as ugly as they come. I hated him for what he did to my mum and he knew it. He knew it because I took every opportunity to tell him so. In fact, thinking more on this, I'm not really sure that I wanted to talk to him again until today.
Without thinking twice, I picked up the phone and dialed the first number. I worked my way through the list and spoke to some lovely people today. It makes me wonder if I'm half as nice as the other Wheatley's that I spoke to this afternoon. One lady, upon hearing the story of how my father and I just lost touch continued to call every Wheatley she knew. I heard her asking her husband, Michael, to "get out the phone book". At one point this lady put me hold, very apologetically, while she "made a cupper". "Christmas is such an emotional time" she explained over a hot cup of tea (sipping loudly).
In the end I failed. Nobody I called knew who I was talking about. I sat here, in this chair, feeling the lowest of the low. Then out of nowhere I remembered an old telephone number of a relative I hadn't spoken to in over 5 years. My grandmother - 3-1-8-2... I can't tell you how odd this is. I don't know my own telephone number. I struggle to recall birthday's of just about everyone.
I called the number. As if poised by the phone, waiting for it ring, somebody picked up on the first ring. I hadn't spoken with my uncle Roland in over 15 years yet I knew his voice instantly. He was thrilled to talk with me. He said that I had made his Christmas and that my Dad had been trying to get in touch for almost 4 years! He gave me a number and urged me call straight away. I called.
A man answered. I didn't recognize the voice. I asked if I could speak with Michael Wheatley. He answered with a very nonchalant, "Dean, this is Dad". Then there was a pause. My heart sank. In an instant all my worst fears of rejection choked the voice out of my throat. Then he continued, "I've missed you, mate" he said. And I missed him. We chatted for over an hour. It went well. No arguments - just water under the bridge.
Best friends reunited? I hope so, but I'm not really sure how I feel about all of this. "A lot" is about all I can muster right now.