‘I can’t believe I found my dad. … My mom would be so happy.’”
November 27, 2019 4:19 PM   Subscribe

In photo of a 9-year-old girl, a Houston man found his daughter — and a new life. Kenyon Saylor White was driving down a Tennessee freeway on Feb. 25 when a friend sent him the picture that would immediately recast his life.

“The face looks so familiar… I’m sitting here looking at a picture — it’s almost proof in itself,” Saylor White recalled. “It’s pretty powerful what a face can do.”

His friend told him the girl, Peyton, is Lindsay Ferrill’s daughter. Saylor White remembered Lindsay’s big laugh and her kind heart. He remembered when a mutual friend, Kasey Smith, introduced them more than a decade ago, and when she reached out again in 2012 to tell him Lindsay had been killed by an ex-boyfriend.

~~~~~

The family decided to tell Peyton about her father after the school year ended. They rented a house in Galveston on the weekend of May 24, and Nightingale sat down on the couch with her granddaughter and told her about an “amazing thing” that had happened.

Peyton was really excited, Nightingale said.

“When I can meet him?” she wanted to know. Nightingale told the girl that was up to her. He could be in Galveston the next morning if she wanted, or they could wait until they got back to Katy.

Saylor White said there were a few lingering moments in the last nine months that felt like eternities: when he was waiting for Nightingale to respond to that first message, and when he knew they were in Galveston telling Peyton about him.

Nightingale had told him to stay by the phone. He paced and tried, futilely, to take his mind off what might be happening.

In Galveston, it didn’t take long for Peyton to give her grandmother an answer.

“In the morning,” she said.

The next day, Peyton waited for her father on the couch. Saylor White brought a bouquet of flowers.

“I got these for you,” he told her before offering a hug. “Nice to meet you.”
posted by dancestoblue (24 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
I went into this story honestly looking for a reason to judge people. I hate when I do that. Instead, I found people being actual adults and all focused on doing what’s best for the little girl.

Thank you for posting this! It was really a beautiful read.
posted by kimberussell at 6:08 PM on November 27, 2019 [17 favorites]


Thanks for posting. Best of the Web, indeed.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 7:51 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is lovely.
posted by tuesdayschild at 8:29 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thank you for this. I've been in a bad place this week. Thanksgiving without family tomorrow. Probably spending my birthday alone Friday cause no one wants to come out on a holiday weekend. But this made me feel good about the world. We need more of this.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:51 PM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm so glad they didn't wait until she was 18. And I'm so glad that her father seems to be a real good one.
posted by amanda at 10:01 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't want to thread-sit, and I won't. I will say that this one was awfully hard to put up "Just the facts. Show us -- don't tell us. You're a reporter, not a color commentator."

It was hard because I love this story: Fate with a Capital F dropping into these peoples lives.

And I love how The Houston Chronicle presented it: They were given something beautiful and handled it with style, and flair. Class.

The photographs are gorgeous. Everybody is good-looking. They have video, and it's good video, of the daughter meeting her father. How understated he is: "Nice to meet you." Even that right there is Best Of The Web.

Houston has an incredibly rich singer-songwriter scene. Saylor White's father wrote a killer song -- Crossroads -- which Calvin Russell had a huge hit with in Europe. It'd be hard for me to select a favorite Calvin Russell cut but Crossroads would be in the top ten, for sure. Cancer took him out, maybe ten years ago. I don't live in Houston anymore, didn't know his son was following along, and wouldn't it be cool if Peyton stepped in also, get on those same stages.

I was sent this article in a word document. It did note that it was from The Chronicle and it gave the reporters name, I figured it'd be easy-peasy to find. Wrong. Maybe because it's his latest article, no telling, but searches using dudkduckgo and searches using google and even searching against The Chronicle's site *from* their site pulled up nothing. Nothing about *this* story, that is. But all of them pulled up about 7,084,987,208 other articles by Dylan McGuinness, every one of them grittier and bloodier and gruesomer than the one before; he's a big-city reporter, Houston is a hard town indeed,. Apparently, McGuinness reports on every hard thing that happens there. This story had to be a pleasure for him to write, a feel-good piece.

Last -- there are so many great pieces to this story, and written so well, that I had trouble deciding what to use when posting it here. Now *there's* a nice problem, right?
posted by dancestoblue at 10:08 PM on November 27, 2019 [10 favorites]


Like kimberussell, I too enjoyed the sheer adultness of it all. Peyton is really lucky to have so many people looking out for her.
posted by Harald74 at 10:38 PM on November 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Good dads are the best thing a young girl can have as she is growing up. A mom might show you how to be a woman, but a good dad shows you what a good man looks, sounds and acts like. Peyton's mom had a bad man in her life. I am so glad that Peyton will enter the important teenage years with the solid pure love of a good man to rely on, and later recognize in other men. And I don't just mean in a heterosexual way - we all need good men in our lives.
posted by Thella at 10:41 PM on November 27, 2019 [18 favorites]


You mean that in a very heterosexual way. The idea that kids need parents of a particular gender is one that has been wielded against gay and single parents for decades. It is the first argument for enforcing the heterosexual, nuclear family unit. It needs to go. And on a personal level, I don't appreciate the implication that my family didn't provide me with what was important.

I know you're just trying to share positive thoughts about a feel-good story, but it's a really regressive take that unintentionally insults a lot of families.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:03 PM on November 27, 2019 [19 favorites]


You mean that in a very heterosexual way. The idea that kids need parents of a particular gender is one that has been wielded against gay and single parents for decades.

Actually, I mean that as a girl who had their father die suddenly when I was a year or two older than Peyton.
posted by Thella at 11:06 PM on November 27, 2019 [15 favorites]


The idea that kids need parents of a particular gender

Kids need mentors of all genders.
posted by Thella at 11:09 PM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]


You mean that in a very heterosexual way.
My comment regarding 'not meaning it in a heterosexual way' was in relation to Peyton needing to recognize a good man, regardless of whether she was heterosexual or not.
posted by Thella at 11:17 PM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry that happened. Obviously, you lost something important in your life. That doesn't change my opinion of your comment though.

For some little girls, their dads might be the best thing in their life. For other little girls, growing up in families that don't have dads, there are other best things. Families without dads are not worse for little girls than families with dads. There are other ways to learn the lessons a good dad can teach.

Kids need mentors of all genders.

You didn't say "male mentors." You said "good dads."

My comment regarding 'not meaning it in a heterosexual way' was in relation to Peyton needing to recognize a good man, regardless of whether she was heterosexual or not.

I got that. I was pointing out that it's still a heterosexist thing to say by using your own language.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:24 PM on November 27, 2019 [6 favorites]


As a kid who grew up without a dad - (bio dad divorced my mom when I was 1, still haven't met him and my step dad died when I was 8 after 5 years of being with my mom) - all I can say is if this happened to me - where, when I was a kid, my bio-dad stepped back in after my dad died, even in that limited version of this girl's lst, holy crap what it would have meant to me. Instead I got somewhere who'd rather spend time with the family he created with his legitimized mistress.

Taking the gender issues out of the equation, this girl was, I hope in the long run, incredibly lucky to discover an absent parent 100% ready to not only be a presence but also to be patient with the reasonable and frustrating safeguards that her present family put up around her. No matter your orientation, that's got to be a hell of a model of love/duty.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:11 AM on November 28, 2019 [11 favorites]


You didn't say "male mentors." You said "good dads."

I think I've realised that it was 'the best thing' that threw you. It's a figure of speech. Like pineapple on pizza is 'the best thing', oysters can be 'the best thing' on pizza too. Similarly, good dads being 'the best thing' for a daughter does not exclude any other configuration of good relationships. It's the quality of the adults that is the important thing, not their pronoun.

However, girls and young women particularly benefit from a relationship with a 'dad' like figure due to the power imbalance existing within the patriarchy. Young people need to learn what a good man looks like, what to expect in the future from someone who describes themselves as a good man, so they know how to spot a bad one.
posted by Thella at 12:38 AM on November 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


This is the nicest story ever.
posted by bookbook at 1:49 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


However, girls and young women particularly benefit from a relationship with a 'dad' like figure due to the power imbalance existing within the patriarchy.

The heterosexism is no less heterosexism for being couched in social justice language.
posted by Dysk at 2:10 AM on November 28, 2019 [6 favorites]


Did anyone else notice the atrocious copyediting on the caption?
posted by Morpeth at 5:09 AM on November 28, 2019


I was slightly confused until later in the article if she was supposed to be his biological daughter or not. Is "remembering someone's smile" Texas slang for hooking up?

Also, the quote from the daughter about how the mom would be so happy she found her dad...he wasn't a secret from the mom presumably, she knew who he was...
posted by starfishprime at 7:32 AM on November 28, 2019 [3 favorites]


I never had a dad. I learned to hold men to the same standards I would hold anyone to, without a dad. And given how difficult it is for a heterosexual couple to completely erase the effects of patriarchy in their personal relationship, I have the perspective of growing up without that dynamic at home.

Does that mean that growing up without a dad is better? No, it means that each family has unique perspectives to teach the children growing up in them. As long as the family is loving and secure, that diversity of perspectives is a good thing. Having a dad isn't "the best thing." Having no dad isn't "the best thing."

It's the quality of the adults that is the important thing, not their pronoun.

You don't seem to actually believe this because you follow it with an explanation of why dads specifically are important. It's the same explanation that I originally objected to. For the same reason, I find your clarification of what you meant by "the best thing" to be unconvincing.

As Dysk says, couching it in social justice language doesn't make it less heterosexist. I think you're struggling to say why a relationship with your dad is/was important to you, without implying that you lost something that little girls need in general. I think you used thoughtlessly ended up repeating the same ideas that have been used to attack families like mine.

I don't think your intentions are bad. But it would be nice if we could move past ideas and language that stigmatize families that do not fit into the traditional heterosexual mold, by implying that families without dads (or without moms for that matter) are lacking something important.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:26 AM on November 28, 2019 [5 favorites]


How families come to lack members is important, this little girl lost her only involved parent, who never notified her dad of her existence. Lacking a parent at all, her grandparents stepped in, lovingly, unflinchingly, and in a healthy attached state. Then her other parent immediately stepped in, once he realized he is a parent. The child was supported by her network of people who care about her, and it was able to expand by the addition of a highly significant member. This story is about stepping up.

This story is not about language used to discuss this story, it is not about the members who are making commentary on a bittersweet tale, starting low on the horizon, which has potential to soften and soar. It is OK to tell our family stories, without recrimination at all, or share in the stories of others. I didn't see any family stigmatized in this story, at all.
posted by Oyéah at 9:51 AM on November 28, 2019 [7 favorites]


I didn't see any family stigmatized in this story, at all.

In the OP, no. In some of the commentary on this thread, absolutely. And it is important to push back against that.
posted by Dysk at 10:28 AM on November 28, 2019 [4 favorites]


Truly wonderful story. Thank you for sharing.

Also, the quote from the daughter about how the mom would be so happy she found her dad...he wasn't a secret from the mom presumably, she knew who he was...

Did I miss the part of how the mom and dad were together? I can see how including that aspect of the story may put a cloud over an otherwise sunny story. But, the lack of telling that makes me wonder about same cloud. Why had the mom never told the dad? Did she tell her parents? Did she tell stories about why she didn't want him in their life?

The unanswered questions about their relationship, imo, do a disservice to the story, whether they would have painted any of the people in a bit of a negative light or not.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 11:21 AM on November 28, 2019 [1 favorite]


Great post, OP. Thanks!
posted by Bella Donna at 2:38 AM on November 29, 2019


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