Like father, like son

Posted on June 15th in Feature Story

It took 30 years for Nick Collins of Diamond to find out who his father really was, but now that he knows, it all makes sense

Nick Collins of Diamond, below, and his father, above, found each other after 30 years. They have quite a bit in common such as interests in hunting, fishing, sports and NASCAR. “We’re both short, full of it and we like the same things,” Collins said. (Submitted photos)

By Debbie Raney
Burns Times-Herald

Looking in the mirror, most people can see bits and pieces of their father in their reflection. Many see a resemblance to their father’s eyes, his smile or even the shape of his face.

In addition to the physical traits, there can also be similarities in likes and dislikes, hobbies and job interests.

Imagine for the first 30 years of your life, looking in the mirror and seeing nothing that resembles your father. Even as you get older, when most people find the resemblances growing stronger, you can’t see anything that would remotely connect you to the man who you called “Dad.”

This is the case for Nick Collins of Diamond.

Growing up, Collins lived in Baker City. When he was 10 years old, his “dad” died, leaving his mom to raise him and sisters. Collins said he didn’t really have anything in common with the majority of his family members, so he spent a lot of time with his friends and their families.

Collins went on to get married and become a dad himself, all the while thinking his father had died years before. And then one day (he said he doesn’t know why) his mom decided to tell him the truth — he had never met his dad, he was still alive and he probably lived somewhere on the East Coast.

Last May, Collins got online and “Googled” the name  his mom had given him. His search found two people with that name, one was 25 years old, the other was old enough that he could possibly be his father. At that point Collins said he thought, “Well, I might as well find out if it’s him.”

It was.

Collins’ father, whose first name is also Nick, lives in South Carolina, and was elated to hear from his son. As it turned out, he had been there the day Collins was born in Waterville, Maine, but due to his work schedule he had to leave the mom and baby for a few days. When he returned, both were gone without a word.

Once they found each other last spring, and talked on the phone every day for a month, Collins flew to South Carolina to meet his dad for the first time last June. Upon their first glances of each other, his dad said, “I know where you get your good looks.”

And Collins said it was obvious they were related. “We’re both short, full of it and we like the same things.” After 30 years he finally found out why he is such an avid hunter, fisherman and sports enthusiast, and why he likes NASCAR.

“Liking NASCAR, that has to be genetic,” he said.

After sharing their individual histories of the past 30 years, Collins and his dad realized that there may have been times when they were in the same room. His dad vacationed in a town where Collins regularly spent time at a friend’s restaurant. His dad knew of the restaurant and had often dined there.

Through the years, Collins’ dad said he searched for his son, and he did know he lived in Oregon. He also knew that Collins had never been told the truth, but he didn’t want to step in and ruin his relationship with the man who had raised him.

With that one phone call made last spring, Collins not only gained a dad, he said he gained a “whole bunch of Italian family.” In the past year, he has been in contact with two step-sisters, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins. All of whom are happy to have a new member of the family.

His dad is retired from his trucking company, and hopes to make a trip to Oregon this summer — he’ll have to work it into his tractor racing, BINGO playing and NASCAR watching schedule. These hobbies, with the exception of NASCAR, Collins said were thankfully not genetically passed down to him. The two men talk on the phone daily, and Collins visits on Facebook with several new family members on a regular basis. After 30 years, there’s a lot of catching up to do.

Now when he looks in the mirror, Collins sees more than just his own reflection. He can see family.

He can see bits and pieces of his father.


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