Greg Cross was only 17 years old when he became a father. His girlfriend was even younger than him, but the two of them tried to make it work. But they were in high school, and her family soon moved away—taking away the baby and any connection he had to her and his son.
Having lost touch, Cross moved on and started a family of his own after some years. But the memory of his first child left a gaping hole in his life.
“I’d always wonder, what is he doing, what does he look like?” Cross said. “It was a major void in my life.”
Cross had no inkling of what his son might look like all grown up, or even where he might be living.
But one summer day on the job, Cross was just hit with a gut feeling.
Cross, who works as a painter, was on a routine run to the store to pick up more paint, and he usually never talked to other shoppers. But for some reason that day, he looked across the store to see two people and knew he had to approach them.
“I got this feeling in my stomach, it was gut-wrenching—in a good way and it was one of the biggest emotional feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” Cross said.
It was another painter, Greg Diaz, and his employee, Christian Ingersoll. Cross went over and said hi, and the two of them initially thought it was strange of him to do so.
Diaz and Cross started talking, and then a weird thought crossed Ingersoll’s mind.
“I stared at him, and boom—I thought, ‘I wonder if that guy is my dad,'” Ingersoll said. As they left the paint store, he told Diaz his theory, and he thought it was just the strangest thing.
“I never had one shred of any kind of evidence of what this guy might look like, act like, talk like, dress like—anything,” Ingersoll said. “Nobody said his name. It was a passage in a book that had been closed a long time ago.”
And so he had never looked for his dad, afraid of what he might find.
But not two days after that chance encounter, Ingersoll was on the job painting a woman’s house. She struck up a conversation with him because he was from the area, wondering if they knew the same people. It turns out they didn’t.
But then, for whatever reason, Ingersoll blurted out: “You might know my dad—I’ve never met him but his name is Greg Cross.”
The woman burst out laughing—because she was shocked. Then she said, “Oh my gosh, that’s my brother-in-law!”
He thought the woman was kidding at first, but she assured him she wasn’t, and then told him, “Your dad’s a painter, just like you. He owns his own painting business.”
“That’s when I freaked out,” Ingersoll recalled.
He was terrified of finally meeting his father. “I would hate to meet him and for him to not like me and want nothing to do with me.”
The next thing the woman said was to offer him Cross’s phone number, but he said no and quickly climbed back up his ladder, trying to focus on the job. He was too emotionally shaken to continue the conversation, but the woman went back into the house, and called up her sister to tell her this strange coincidence.
“Guess who’s painting my house?” she asked.
After work, Ingersoll told his boss, Diaz, about the conversation. It seemed far too coincidental, and so Diaz, curious, drove back to that paint store where they met the man two days ago to ask the store owner for his name. It turned out it was Greg Cross, and Ingersoll’s instinct had been dead-on.
Meanwhile, Cross’s wife gave him a phone number for Ingersoll. He stared at it for an hour, not knowing how he should approach his son.
Worried he might not even want to talk to him, Cross made the call. Ingersoll did indeed pick up—and the two of them agreed to meet.
“I was driving there, trying not to cry,” Cross recalled. Meanwhile, Ingersoll’s head snapped up at every car that passed by the front of his house, worried it would or wouldn’t be his father.
The moment they met again was tense—for a few seconds, neither of them knew what to say. Then Ingersoll pulled his father in to a huge hug.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I haven’t had a dad my whole life,” he told Cross.
They immediately agreed to make up for the lost years, spending much time together going forward.
“I don’t believe in coincidence,” Ingersoll said. “Everything happens for a reason. So I’m looking at it like this is the start of something awesome.”
Ingersoll says every time he thinks about it his mind is blown. “That he’s my dad—I love saying it. ‘Yeah, that’s my dad,'” he said. “That’s my dad.”
For Cross, the reunion was better than winning the lottery.
“What do you think the odds are? A bazillion to one?” he said. “This is what life’s about.”
“I’m so happy I’ve got him in my life again and I’m not going to let go ever,” Cross said. “Ever.”
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