GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – The last time 74 year old John Pascua saw his two sons, they were both young boys, under the age of ten. That was more than 40 years ago.
The boys moved to New Zealand with their mother as kids, and eventually settled in Australia. While a few calls and letters connected father and sons, the trio was unable to see each other face to face. The cost of a plane ticket was just out of reach, until now.
Thursday afternoon, 40 years and more than 9,000 miles of ocean and land melted away, as Pascua waited in the terminal of the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport for the arrival of his two sons.
"I think this is worse than excited," said Pascua. "Every night before I got to sleep, I just thinking when am I going to get to see them and how would I feel and how would I act? But right now, I don't really know."
The father was joined by his current wife and family, a son and stepson, along with grandchildren. All anxiously waited for the plane to arrive and unload.
"I'm so glad they finally get here and finally get to see them and that [I can tell them] I love them, we all love them," said Pascua.
Finally, after an hour of waiting for the plane, the family watched as the two sons and father were reunited for the first time in four decades. For a moment, all anyone could do was hug.
Soon the two sons, Phillip and John both in their forties now, were laughing and joking in a thick Aussie accent.
"It's unreal. We never really thought we'd make the transition and to meet so many people and meet family we never really knew we had," said Phillip Pascua.
"I've been waiting since, well, forever. But it's a bit surreal," said John Pascua. "I don't get emotional normally, but I can feel it coming on. I just wanted to connect with him again."
For their father, seeing his sons after so long was the best Christmas gift he could hope for. And as they gathered for a family photo 40 years in the making, he hoped this trip would be one of a lifetime.