Three Questions for a Teacher and Father Nick Shepard was 19 when he first learned his birth father's name. Shepard recalls how their brief meeting revealed some deep truths about that man and himself.

Three Questions for a Teacher and Father

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Time now for Storycorps. People across the country are sharing personal stories through this national project.

Today, a young man talks about meeting his biological father.

Nick Shepard was 19 when he first learned his birth father's name. He soon Googled that name on the Internet and discovered that the man was a teacher in Glasgow, Scotland. Turns out, Nick was getting ready to visit Glasgow.

Here, he tells his friend Hugh Ryan about the trip.

Mr. NICK SHEPARD: I woke up the morning after I got to Glasgow, and I decided to just go to the university to look around, see what I thought. I had the address written down for my biological father, and I went there.

I looked down the hallway, and I saw a sign with his name. Finally, I just said this is probably the only chance in my life I will ever have to do this. I walked up to the door and I knocked. And he looked at me with a look that was not quite hostile, but impatient. I said, do you have a minute? He said, sure. And I said, do you remember living in Connecticut 20 years ago? And he got this kind of odd smile on his face and said, yes, I remember it. I said, well, do you remember a relationship with a woman named Eloise that you had? And he says, yes, yes, I do. And I said, well, I'm the result of that relationship. And he says, ah.

Walks over towards me, and I have this panic that he's going to touch me. But he doesn't. He walks past me and he closes the door and walks back and sits down at the table where I'm seated and says, so. You're here. And I said, yeah. I told him that I had three questions that I wanted to ask him. He said, sure.

And I said, first, I wanted to know if there's any history of diseases or things that I needed to be aware of genetically, just to get that base line out of the way.

Mr. HUGH RYAN: Out of the way.

Mr. SHEPARD: And he said, you know, no, not that I know of it. And then I asked him if he would be willing to just explain a little about the circumstances surrounding my birth, and how it came to be that when I was born and he left.

And for the first time - and only time over the course of our 15-minute conversation - the grin left his face, and eventually he said, well, I think that at that point, Eloise was ready to have a child. I said, and you weren't? And he laughed and said, no. Never was, never have been. He didn't really offer me anything more.

Mr. RYAN: Did you ask your third question?

Mr. SHEPARD: Yeah. I let that ruminate for a minute, and then I asked my third question, which was, may I take a picture of you? I had a little disposable camera. Took a picture of him, and that was that. It ended with me saying, you know, well, I don't want to take up too much of your time. And I said goodbye, and he turned to walk back towards his computer and he says, goodbye for now.

I don't know if I'll ever contact him, if I will ever want him to be a part of my life in any way. But for now, I don't. And so I walked back through this park in Glasgow, back towards the place where I was staying, and I felt that I had made a peace with a part of myself that I never expected, that I never even thought possible.

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MONTAGNE: Nick Shepard with his friend Hugh Ryan at Storycorps in New York. This interview will be archived along with all the others at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Hear more of them and subscribe to the Storycorps podcast at

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