Notes from my first conversation with my birthfather and why I love him, like it or not.


This is a photo of of Dennis, my birthfather, taken around 1961. He has the same look on his face I did at his age. It’s the sort of look that says,

“Don’t bother me. I’m contemplating God, science,

and the universe right now…”

And the thing is, I love him. I’m not suppose to love him apparently, but I do.  I’m  not suppose to love him because after all, he didn’t work three jobs at a time and join the Army to feed and clothe me. He didn’t hoist me on his shoulders at the fair when I was tired, or sit with me through two eye surgeries. He didn’t drive 90 minutes to retrieve my lost doll at the car lot, or come to my dance recitals, or give me his last five dollars, or move me into my apartment my first year of college.

I’m not suppose to love him because except for a premonition, he didn’t even know I existed, through no fault of his own. Which means my birthmother brought me into the world pretty much solo and I thank her for that.

Even his older brother Jim, the first family member I spoke to before I met Dennis, braced me for disappointment. “He’s just an old Vietnam Vet who lives in the woods and prays a lot,” he told me. “Don’t get your hopes up, kid. He’s a guy that went away to war and didn’t come back the same.”

Too bad Uncle Jim didn’t know me as well as he thought he did. Likewise, too bad he didn’t have eyes to see the beauty of his brother’s mind and heart, brimming with the rare kind of forgiveness and love that expects nothing in return.

I waited two weeks after receiving a message from Dennis on my answering machine before I called him back. My nerves jangled and the brick wall of fear of the unknown loomed. I pulled out one of Hugh’s yellow legal pads and collected five pens in case I ran out of ink and dialed.

“Hello,” he answered, his voice bright and curious.

“Hello, this is Melanee,” I said, pressing this moment between my throat and my heart.

“Well hello there, Melanee!” he replied.”I am delighted you chose to call!”

His use of the word “delighted” encouraged me, as did the crescendo of joy that bounced off the end of his words.

“Is this a good time?” I asked.

“It is a perfect time,” he replied.

He did most of the talking at first, and I asked an occasional question. He told me about his childhood being one of eight children, just like me. He told me his role in the family was that of peacemaker, counselor, caretaker, and spiritual advisor, just like me. He spoke of his philosophies of life, of love, compassion, forgiveness, God and light. He spoke of the blessing and burden of his intuitive gifts. Of being able to discern people and their emotions and motives, and always seeking the good. Of his endless curiosity, and desire for inner beauty and excellence. Of his tendency to depression, his unyielding faith in Jesus Christ and his overwhelming compassion for the human race.

He sincerely apologized to me for any pain he had caused me by his mistake in judgement, explained all of the circumstances, and asked for my forgiveness.

I did not expect this. Any of it. I had hoped for simple kindness of course, and I hoped he wasn’t a loser creep. But this luminous kindred soul on the other end of the line mirroring my deepest beliefs and most sacred struggles and triumphs-never.

We spoke for over two hours straight, me rocking back and forth in my rocking chair on the front patio, scribbling notes in circles on my yellow legal pad, he answering every question I cared to ask with such honesty it startled me.

I could barely breathe when we hung up so intense were my emotions. And despite the positivity of our conversation, my foundation was so seismically shaken, it took weeks before I could call again.

It’s funny too because when I’d tell people I spoke to him, they’d say, “So what does he do?”

I’d laugh and say, “I have no idea. We didn’t get to that part yet.” We were too busy talking about God, science, the nature of light, love, sacrifice, and the universe. Too busy talking about what we want to become to pay much attention to what anyone does for a living.

It’s been almost four years since we met, and our conversations, rarely lasting under three hours, are always rich and ennobling. He’s visited me here at home, and I’ve visited him too.

And like it or not, I love him. The bright spot of joy in this journey that astonishes me still. The praying Vietnam Vet who lives in the woods and could light a dozen cities with his soul. How could I not?

24 Comments

  1. Amber on 04/10 at

    I’m happy you love him. This is such a happy story. It brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing it. I’m really happy for you.

  2. Wendy on 04/10 at

    Ah, Mel, as always, your wisdom astonishes me and your compassion makes me better.

    • Melanee Evans on 04/11 at

      I see you filled to overflowing with both wisdom and compassion already, Wendy. I am and have always likewise been inspired by you.

  3. Ashley E on 04/10 at

    Melanee, I love it… this is a great story, thank you for sharing.

  4. Kc on 04/11 at

    This is your best. For every reason.

  5. Jeanmarie on 04/11 at

    : )

  6. Marianne Leininger on 04/11 at

    Mel, this post was illuminating, to say the least. What a firm grasp you have on the purpose of life. Thanks for sharing your light and joy. I LOVE this blog…and I promise not to be a stalker!

  7. Jay on 04/11 at

    Page 61, Children’s Song Book
    “Jesus said love everyone; Treat them kindly too.
    When your heart is filled with love, Others will love you”

    Almost all the things we need to know are found in the Children’s song book!

    Great story, Mel.

  8. Gina Aldridge on 04/11 at

    Thank you for sharing your heart and soul. This story touched me and I marvel at your talent in words and compassion. I love your positive energy and how every time I read your blog I desire to improve myself!!

  9. Joyce Nedved on 04/11 at

    Melanee, you are such a great example to everyone. I appreciated the opportunity that I have to know you. You are incredible.
    Loving whole heartedly.

  10. Wendy Jones on 04/11 at

    How wonderful! Wise is the person who seeks reasons to heal instead of searching for reasons to blame.

    • Melanee Evans on 04/11 at

      I’m happy you see this message in this post, Wendy. It reminds me that who we are and what we believe comes across in our writing, even when we aren’t consciously trying to promote a specific idea.

  11. Anna on 04/11 at

    Your love for him is embedded in every word of this post 🙂 I’m so glad you found him 🙂

  12. Mary Ann Mabey on 04/11 at

    What a wonderful tribute to your bio father. He is blessed to have you as a daughter. How wonderful you can now build a relationship with him. Sounds like you have much in common. I am happy for you, Melanee. Love you.

  13. Dallin Hughes on 04/13 at

    Wow… the Spirit that accompanies this blog is simply astounding! Melanee, you don’t know me. I’m just a friend of your daughter, and she gave me the link to your site. The emotion and delivery of every word in this post has lifted my soul. I can tell that you honestly try to live The Gospel in your everyday life, and that it blesses every life that you have an influence on. Every being that, whether they speak to you or not, are privileged to see your light, for you surely are enlightened. Stay true. 🙂

    • Melanee Evans on 04/13 at

      Thank-you, Dallin Hughes! I do know you through Xani’s classes and some of her interactions with you, and I am thrilled at her wisdom in choosing high-caliber friends like you that inspire her to nobility. I do not take your challenge to “stay true” lightly and thank-you for it, as well as for your genuine and heartfelt note. 🙂

  14. Annie Bowlby on 04/15 at

    Who would not want a father like this? My heart overflows with thanks to God for this precious gift He has given you, Melanee. And what a joy to him to meet you and have such a daughter in his life. Congratulations to you both. A

  15. Alicia White Mansfield on 04/21 at

    Wow, Melanee you have a way with words. What an amazing articulate person you are. I am so happy that you have come to know your birthfather and that you have a wonderful relationship. That is rare as you probably know. You are definitely a gifted writer who can eloquently put into words your feelings and thoughts. I would love to be able to express myself like that. I often think of our childhood days and the carefree fun times we shared together. May Heavenly Father continue to bless and enrich your life. You will always be one of my dearest friend. Much love, Alicia

    • Melanee Evans on 04/23 at

      Thank-you, Alicia! Someday, I want my girls to meet you as you are a celebrity of sorts in our storytelling circle about my childhood. They know all about the ditch bank, the pretty rocks from preschool, the sprinklers and the talent show we did together in the 4th grade. I love you!

      • Alicia White Mansfield on 05/01 at

        Oh the memories!! I hope you never shared the memory with your girls of when Bret dared me to pour sand in your mouth when we were in the sand box. I still feel awful and embarrassed about that one. I loved the long walks in the alpha alpha fields and the many picnics we had. I must tell you that I did not have lots of good memories of my childhood but most of all the good ones were with you and Debbie. You guys saved me! I owe you a lot. Much love my kindred spirit!

        • Melanee Evans on 05/07 at

          Oh, I blame that sandbox incident entirely on Bret! Yes, my mom was doing hair in her salon, and we were playing in the sandbox next to the clothes lines. That would be just the beginning of a long life of pranks from my brother. I have wonderful memories of our friendship. Someday we’ll have to chat about them. Love back to you, my dear friend!

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