Finding My Father; Stanley Friend

My grandson, Benjamin at 6

Hearing His Voice

I heard my real father’s voice for the first time during a dinner at the IAHA Annual Arabian Horse Art Auction held in February 1985, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Mary Lou Wahlberg, announcer, and commentator, interrupted her description of a painting being auctioned by saying, "Stacey Mayer, there is a phone call from home for you in the lobby..." The beautiful lobby in the Saddleback Hotel, of Scottsdale. I was far away from Seattle; what had happened?

My heart stopped. I was carrying Frannie, who would be born that July. I protectively wrapped my arms across my belly and as my friends spoke kind, supporting things to me. Shaken, I walked out to the phones. My husband was on hold; "All is well; it's OK; your father would like to talk to you, that's all."

"What?" My Dad, the only one I knew, had drowned in 1973. Searchers had been unable to find his body or my sister's body either. Phil was trying to carefully say, "real father" but I kept hearing, "Dad". My Dad was lost; what was Phil saying?

"Your real father called the house; I talked to him; Stanley Friend, your real Dad, he's going to be calling you at this number. Just hold on a few minutes, he wants to talk to you."

Dad; father; my genesis; an imagined dream from my childhood. I'd never even seen a picture of him. I knew he was the source of my reddish hair; for reasons kept secret while I was growing up, that's all I knew.

Since I wasn't given details, I made the rest up. He loved me, and he'd come and rescue me someday. We'd travel together to Garden Island, floating in the mist in the middle of Ozette Lake. We would be happy there.

The lobby phone rang again. My baby leaped. "Hello?"

"Hello; this is Stanley Friend; they tell me you think I'm your father."

What could I say? I knew he was my father, but how could I convince him, and pull him to my heart; right now? I didn't have any details! I only had; what?

"Well, my mother always told me you were my father. I know it is the truth."

Pause; what was he thinking?

"What else did your mother tell you about me?"

"She told me you had curly red hair. My first daughter, Shannon, has curly red hair. My Aunt Jackie held Shannon in her arms after she was born, and said, “all those years we didn't believe your mother..."

I continued, "My mother never said anything bad about you; she just said you were young."

I heard breathing. "Well," he said very slowly, "that would be your Mother's way."

I waited, my heart overflowing with things I wanted to say.

"You know, I've carried this picture of you in my wallet. I always wanted a daughter..." He was sniffing back tears.

Acknowledgment! My heart was exploding. Little baby Frannie, still so small inside me, kicked my ribs with all her might.

As my real father reached out to me through of lifetime of misunderstandings and impossibilities, we became father and daughter.

When I returned to the art auction, I told Edwin Bogucki, Judith Forbis, Debbie Lermond, and several others who had been quite concerned, a truly fantastic tale - my father had just found me.

Later that year, Stanley held little Frannie in his arms. He was silently crying. Her sisters, Cassandra and Shannon, sitting beside him, clutched his arms, and looked together at the small baby. I have a picture of the moment.

Francesca Julie; was born with a button nose and curly red hair.

Who is my Dad? The dad of my childhood memories is Robert Rank, but the grandfather of my children is Stanley Friend.

Family genealogy update;'s DNA continues to connect us with the growing Friend family. Sadly, my father passed away just a few years after we met. We enjoy connecting with new family members and introducing them to Stanley's red-headed great-grandson, Benjamin.

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