Arrival: An Immigrant Story

Arrival: An Immigrant Story

by John Fahey


Publisher John Fahey

Published in Biographies & Memoirs/Memoirs, Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction

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Book Description


A young man becomes a scientist, tormented by teenage memories, nightmares, facial scars, shaking, fearing he will have a short life to achieve his ambitions. His father violently rejected him. His grandfather loved him.This follows Survival, an account of my early life.

Sample Chapter

I knew my flight to New York was to be a one way journey. I was leaving England behind, putting an ocean between me and my father, taking my memories with me, reflecting on this sudden change in my life, wanting so much that I’d find what I was looking for. As the TWA flight lifted from the runway and I saw the ground fall away beneath me I took a deep breath and slowly let it out. I was not on a coffin ship with cholera aboard and sharks following the sails across the Atlantic for the dead bodies thrown overboard. That much was certain. Though as the plane broke through the clouds and sunlight came in the windows I thought of my cousins who had never been born, more than a century past, resolving to myself that I’d treasure this opportunity I’d been given. I’d do my best with this chance to do well.

I was relieved that Patricia was safe with Billy, though living dangerously close to our father, sadly still suffering the daily tensions and anxieties of memories of Derby Street. We both needed to continue in our path combining work with night school, constantly learning, trying to recover, with the knowledge that Mary and Tom and Terry were still back there. We had to show them the way to escape. We had to convince them to keep reading and keep hope for a better future as part of their lives.

It was a TWA flight direct from London. I felt a happy elation that I’d made it this far, constantly looking at and reading over and over again the letter offering me the position of Assistant Scientist at the Warner Lambert Research Institute in New Jersey. I kept shuffling it with my Irish passport and the temporary green card authorization, as if I let them out of my sight they would vanish. At my interview in early December I’d been nervous that they could tell I was working class, from a slum, and had escaped to St. Andrews University after my father battered me and raged that he would stop me. But somehow, they had not seen that in me. Dr. John Shavel had been much more interested in how I’d combined night school with work for Imperial Chemical Industries in order to pass the examinations to get me into the chemistry B.Sc. course of study. He’d been intrigued that my third class Honours degree was not good enough to get support to do a doctorate. He had amazed me when he offered me the job and an enormous salary, telling me I could continue night school for the doctorate while working for them and it would all be paid for.

I still had problems. My head and hands would tremor under stress. The scars on my face from my teenage road accident still troubled me. But I was coping well enough with them. I knew a couple of pints of beer in the evening would suppress the tremors. My new American friends who I’d met in Amsterdam the previous summer had assured me that in America I’d be viewed as having rugged good looks. I also had to deal with the fact that I was entering a virtually unknown world. I hadn’t even met my first gay person until Amsterdam. I didn’t know anything about that world, only that British newspapers and magazines had shown me a horrible world, of blackmail, and jail, and suicide. I had a lot of things to learn, changes in my opinions on learning new facts, a perilous path ahead. I also had to deal with the fact that Arthur wanted me to be his lover. He wasn’t the Hephaestion I’d been looking for, he was ten years older, but he had a car and could drive, had furniture and knew how to get a flat. I smiled to myself at that thought. I’d have to adjust to calling a flat an apartment.

The stewardess came around and I took a beer and stopped worrying. There would be time enough for that. I picked up my science fiction book and began to read. I’d thought a lot about what the American girls had told me on the flight through Iceland to New York when I thought I was only going for a holiday; that England and America were two countries separated by a common language. I was familiar with the power of words, knew the phrasing of a sentence could change intent, that select tenses and adjectives could carry emotion. During my short holiday in New York I’d eagerly soaked up American words for familiar things. At that point, I’d thought it would be a relatively easy task to learn and substitute alternate words for those things. What I didn’t know was that it would take me on a voyage of reflection in the decades ahead.

One thing I was quite sure about. I did not like to be identified by a common word. I did not like to be given a label. With the same instinct that was within me I knew without doubt that my father was indeed my father as he battered me throughout my teenage years, calling me a bastard, giving me every reason to wish another man to be my father, to want it to be the Norwegian man my father accused my mother of causing her pregnancy, during the time he had gone missing, being brought back when I was over seven months old. My father was my father. His father in Ballybohan, Roscommon, was my grandfather. Though now my grandfather was long dead his love of me burned within my heart, his words and memories of him sustaining me, giving meaning to my life.

Even though I loved Ireland I’d had a strange feeling living in England, during my teenage years, on Tees-side, when the English labeled me as ‘Irish’, as though that defined me, gave them reason to like me or scorn me. I only wanted to be known as a Fahey, my grandfather’s true eldest grandson, of a proud lineage. It was to be decades before I was to find out what he told me as a child, warmed by the turf fire, within his arms, after the rosary had been said for the poor hungry children of the world, was indeed my identity, needing no label, nor scorn by others. And though I did not know it then, tradition records that the Fahey were the last of the Gaelic clans of Connaught to submit to the Earls of Ulster, with centuries of conflict, and seven hundred of the clan killed at the second battle of Athenry, on the tenth of August in 1316. That was who I was. That is what burned in my heart, that is all I needed.


Excerpted from "Arrival: An Immigrant Story" by John Fahey. Copyright © 2017 by John Fahey. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

John Fahey

John Fahey

I was born in England in 1944, lived in Roscommon in Ireland between the age of five and nine, lived very difficult teenage years (written about in my memoir), gained entrance to St. Andrews University in Scotland where I graduated with an Honours degree in Chemistry when I was 23. I then migrated to America where I gained a doctorate in Chemistry. I had a career as a synthetic organic research chemist, later as a professor of chemistry at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, then later still as a director of Phase II and Phase III clinical research trials, retired into final career years as a consultant. I learned webmaster skills and have a domain Erinpharm which promotes information about aiming at a healthy longevity. A fuller review of my career can be found at my Erinpharm web site in the CV and about_me. pages. I am an optimistic person and enjoy life. In my retirement to the Blue Ridge mountains of east Tennessee I continued a lifelong love of gardening and writing. I look forward to the future with a sense of awe and hope for advances on the frontiers of science and medicine.

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