Imagine you’re a father of three grown kids, a grandfather of three, you’re thousands of miles from home at a remote Northern B.C. construction camp, and you get a Facebook message from the daughter you never knew you had.
Well, if you’re Darryl Chetwynd, you try not to get too excited. The Nov. 12 missive was brief.
“Hi Darryl. My name is Becky. My mom is Holly, and I thought I’d message you and say hi.”
Chetwynd’s mind was racing.
Just six weeks ago he was at his Port Hastings home when he received a similar brief, and potentially life-altering, Facebook message from a long-ago girlfriend, informing him that they had a daughter. She was trying to track him down but offered no means of contacting his daughter.
“I had butterflies, of course, and I was wondering ‘is this for real’” recalled Chetwynd. “But she’s the spitting image of one of my daughters and I just knew she was mine.”
Inside a half-hour of getting that message, he responded, eager to apologize and compensate for the lost years.
In those subsequent rapid-fire messages, plans were being made. Later that evening they talked for hours over the phone.
Less than a week later, on Friday, Nov. 17, they met at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
“We hugged right away,” he said. “I feel like I missed out on 31 years of Becky’s life and it shouldn’t have happened. I want to give her what I can as a father. Now I have four children and five grandchildren. I think that’s just great.”
Same goes for Becky Myers. The 31-year-old Barrington Passage resident was adopted at birth.
She was 18 years old when her birth mom finally told her the name of her biological father. With no other details she tried to track him down, phoning every Darryl Chetwynd in the phone book. She never gave up.
“The moment he walked through the security doors it was like everything stopped. I was hoping that I wouldn’t throw up. I wondered is he going to be as excited as I am? But it played out perfectly.
“The first thing I said was, ‘Hi dad.’ The rest I can’t remember.”
Myers wrestled with the prospect of contacting her dad by way of Facebook, worrying about how he might receive the startling news.
“Either he’s going to love the idea and he’s going to be completely for it, almost like that story book perfect ending. Or, it’s going to be, he reads the message, ignores it, and we never speak again. Luckily that didn’t happen.”
Over the years, there were many occasions when Myers longed for his presence.
“The birth of my kids, any time a boy broke my heart, graduating from community college.”
Saturday, Nov. 18, essentially played out as a kind of meet and greet. Myers travelled to Halifax with her boyfriend. There she also met Chetwynd’s daughter, Candace, and the four went for breakfast. They shared a few jokes, kept things light and, after a couple of hours, parted before making plans for a Christmas family get-together.
His family is all in. Chetwynd’s two sons, who are working with him out west, are already making plans to meet their sister in the coming weeks. Chetwynd’s wife and mother are ‘tickled pink’ about the prospect of an added family member.
“I’m 50 years old now and I’m hoping I have a few more years left because family is everything to me,” said Chetwynd. “I’m just grateful that she never stopped looking for me. We just click.
“I look at my own children and know how much joy they’ve brought me. I feel, and I think we all agree, that this another of life’s blessings.”