When I was twenty-seven, I decided to come to Utah to find my biological father. It wasn’t difficult to locate him, and he seemed genuinely glad to be reunited with me. It was a strange, bittersweet experience. As I met his other children, I got to be around people who looked like me and had similar talents and intellects for once.
As my father and I interacted, I slowly began to understand why my parents were not able to stay together. The problems went far beyond incompatibility. They were incapable of being there for each other. They each had severe health issues, and my father’s extended into mental illness. He had been a danger to my mother, and that’s why she left him and got a divorce. Meeting him so many years later, he was no longer a danger, but he still showed signs of mental illness as I got to know him. He wasn’t able to form a father relationship with me like I wanted.
A few years after we were reunited, he invited me to his wedding, his fifth. He had chosen a very kind woman, and I thought they’d be happy together. He gave me directions to the chapel where he was to be married, but he didn’t, unfortunately give me an exact address, and the directions were really garbled. As a result, I drove all over, but couldn’t find the location. I was literally looking for my father, the same quest I had been on my entire life.
I cried as I drove around, feeling emotionally lost as well as physically. Then I turned on the radio. Beethoven’s 9th symphony, “Ode to Joy,” was playing, in the German version, “An die Freude.” The German lyrics, written by Friedrich Schiller, written with the intense emotions the German language imparts, state the following: Be embraced, you millions, a kiss for the entire world. Brothers, above the tent of stars, a loving Father must exist… You can view the lyrics here. I’ve rendered the German lyrics to English. I realized at that time there is a father, one who cares infinitely, and is the perfect prototype for every father on the earth. God is my father, and I can take His perfect example into my own life. I also learned how much a father can care for his children. Was my biological father a perfect one? No, but he meant well his entire life. In spite of mistakes, this well-meaning transmits, as does the love every father has for his children.