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Daughter reunited with father for first time in 38 years


“I’m so excited,” Tanya Ellis says while walking along Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on an unexpected journey. “And nervous.”

“He’s going to love these, I’m sure,” Tanya says, pulling a photo album out of her bag, and flipping through pages featuring pictures of her birth father holding her as a baby.

Tanya recalls happy memories from before he left when she was five years old and she never heard from him again.

“We were told it was due to mental health issues,” Tanya says.

That was almost four decades ago, long before we knew what we now know about mental health. Tanya’s feelings couldn’t be more complicated.

“It’s always in the back of your mind," Tanya says. “That there’s something not right with yourself that they leave you.”

While you keep moving forward in life — perhaps like Tanya, lucky enough to have a wonderful family that includes an adopted dad — everything seems to stop when, out of the blue, a stranger calls to say your birth father is looking for you.

“I was shocked,” Tanya says. “She kept asking, ‘Are you ok? Are you ok?’ And I’m like, I can’t believe this is happening.”

Yet three days later, Tanya had flown from Ontario to B.C., to visit a hospice facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to meet her birth father for the first time in 38 years.

“I gave him a big, giant hug,” Tanya says. “It was just beautiful. It was really nice.”

If you ask her birth father Glenn Ellis how the reunion was for him, the man of few words will show you how he felt with a big smile. Because it’s not every day that you get to say how proud you are of the woman your little girl grew up to be.

“It’s so nice,” Tanya smiles.

And it's not every day that you get to see that she is proud of you for being on the news a couple times before for striving to spread positivity despite your struggles.

“[It was] to make people happy,” Glenn smiles, recalling how he would regularly dress in red clothes and wear a Santa hat around his neighbourhood to complement his long white beard.

There were countess happy moments during Tanya and Glenn’s reunion after they were both brave enough to say all the things they needed to say to start turning hurt into healing.

“Love” Glenn smiles, when asked what he’s learned life is all about. “Love.”

Although being in hospice means his life is limited, when you ask how big his love is for Tanya and the other family members he’s been reunited with, Glenn will smile and say the love is “vast.”

“I can now feel a peace in my life I’ve never felt before,” Tanya smiles.

And that photo album she brought to show her birth father, that once featured too many blank pages, will now be filled with so many happy memories. Top Stories

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