Spring is coming! At least it better be because I think we all need a bit of light, warmth and sunshine. Since last spring I have acquired several wrinkles, the odd new grey hair (nothing that Wella can't cure), yet more body mass (Weight Watchers and I are currently negotiating an agreement on how to eradicate this) and several more members of the extended Hayes clan.
The grey hairs and body weight, I won't bore you with. As for the rest; where to begin...
Several years ago when Stig a scrawny 18-year-old he was in a relationship which produced an unexpected pregnancy. Unfortunately this relationship ended before the baby arrived. A little girl was born but some weeks later her young mum was struggling to cope and so she took the decision to have the baby adopted. Stig fought to be awarded custody of his daughter, but it was decided by the powers that be that a young, single, working Dad with no family support could not provide a suitable environment in which to raise a child, and his baby girl was taken away.
That was almost twenty years ago. Stig tried several times over the years to register himself available for contact in the hope that when his daughter reached adulthood she may try to contact him. It turns out that although the Adoption Contact Register is a wonderful thing, it's no substitute for Facebook. We received a strange message from an unknown woman who asked where he was from and how old he was. We should have twigged instantly but the name was unfamiliar so we didn't pay attention to the age of the mysterious contact. It was only when one of the messages mentioned that they were looking for people who knew Stig's old girlfriend that we began to get excited. It was her.
There followed several rushed messages, then long chats via instant messaging. She had been living 3 miles away from us all these years. We could have walked past her in the street many, many times. Sure enough a fortnight or so later her younger sister came across her in a shop in town. It seemed she and Stig were destined to meet. Tentatively the arrangements were made. Stig and I were to meet her and her adopted mum (who has been incredibly supportive throughout) for lunch. Stig barely slept the night before. He was a mass of nerves and excitement. I was the calm one, following him around the house the next morning with words of reassurance as he flapped and worried and shook with nerves. He didn't know what to with himself, if it had been up to him we would have arrived for lunch two hours early. As it was we arrived half an hour early and I tried to keep him calm as we took our seats at our table.
As they walked through the door of the restaurant though, it was me who's face crumpled the instant I saw her. I felt like such a idiot and was almost relieved when I composed myself enough to look up, and saw that she had tears streaming down her face too. Seeing them share that first embrace was just magic. There wasn't a dry eye between the four of us, it was the most emotional experience.
There have been several afternoons spent together since and, I hope, there will be many more. She has met her half brothers and sisters, they are all like mini clones of each other, it's beyond uncanny. She has a lovely boyfriend and a young son, who looks just like a mixture of Charlie and Sam at that age. Stig often grins that he found out he is a 'grandad' via Facebook. The whole thing has been the most surreal experience but the best feeling.
So the Hayes clan continues to expand it seems. We have often thought of her and have hoped this day would come for so many years. It feels almost like things are complete, but he has been told in no uncertain terms that if any more mini-Stigs appear on our doorstep, I'll need a considerably better equipped kitchen with a bigger oven!