“If you had one dream, what would it be?”
For Walker, the answer was always the same: to meet my dad.
That dream finally came true last weekend.
Theresa hadn’t seen her dad, Robert Walker, 63, since she was 9 months old and living in Nashville.
“I’d never seen a picture of him,” Theresa recalled. “I didn’t even know what he looked like.”
After all those years, father and daughter, now 30, were finally reunited last Friday in Macon County.
They’ve been spending time together at Robert’s rented home on Old Bottom Road.
Along with Theresa, Robert also saw his granddaughter for the first time. Ashley Walker turns 14 on April 12.
Richard Trevino, Theresa’s fiancé, and Yliana Trevino, 15, Theresa’s future step-daughter, also made the trip down from Chicago Heights, Ill.
This reunion story begins nearly 30 years ago, when Theresa Walker was 9 months old.
Robert and Theresa said Theresa’s mother was getting some bad advice from members of her side of the family.
“I don’t know what brought it on and this, that and the other,” Robert Walker recalled. “But anyway, she left.
“When she left she moved in with another guy that lived next door to her mom and step-dad. Then I went over there to bring some money for the kids and this guy’s sister came out and said, ‘oh, they’re gone.’”
Robert said he immediately figured they’d headed somewhere up north.
Robert said he contacted a friend of his who worked for a police department in Minnesota, hoping the friend might be able to help him located his daughter.
That never happened.
Days turned to months and months turned to years.
Robert said he waited until his daughter turned 18, hoping that might help in the search. Still, he said, the friend at the police department could come up with nothing.
“He was a higher rank in the police force up there then,” Robert said, “and he still couldn’t find anything.”
Robert said he thanked his friend for looking. Robert said he told his friend that, hopefully, his daughter would search for and eventually find him.
“I hope so anyway,” Robert recalled telling his friend.
For her part, Theresa Walker said she’s been looking for her dad for 18 years.
She got her big break while watching a TV show.
“My mom had told me a lot of horrible stories about my dad, things that had happened in the past,” Theresa said. “She had told me he’d been in prison before. I was watching this show called ‘Lockup.’ My mom had told me there was only one prison in Tennessee and that was in Memphis. I called there and they’d never heard of him.
“Well, when I was watching this ‘Lockup’ show, they had a prison in Nashville called Riverbend Maximum Security, so I called Riverbend and they said my dad had never been there. But once you’re in jail or prison it doesn’t matter if it was just for six months or a year, you’re always going to be in the system.”
Theresa said she personally spoke to the warden. Theresa asked if Robert was in the system there.
The prison, according to Theresa, was able to give her Robert’s last known address. Using that information, she was able to obtain a phone number for the address.
“I ended up talking to my sister’s aunt,” Theresa said. “And she actually knew a little bit about my dad. She got me connected with my sister. All of the sudden one day my sister and my brother called and they gave me my dad’s number.”
Theresa said she tried calling him all weekend long but he wasn’t home.
Finally, a couple Mondays ago, Robert Walker answered his phone and heard the voice of the daughter he’d tried to find for so long.
At first, Robert thought it was his niece playing a prank on him. The niece’s name is Tracy, which had caused some confusion during the initial call.
“Then she says, ‘no, this is Theresa,’” Robert said. “And then it dawned on me and I said, ‘I’ve got a daughter named Theresa.’ And she said, ‘well, that’s me.’”
They talked for some time and finally Theresa told her dad that she wanted to come down and see him.
“It was really important for me to meet him, because I have disease called facial tics, and I’m actually eventually going to go blind,” Theresa said.
She finally saw what he looks like last Friday, April 2, at the Greyhound bus station in Nashville. That’s where Robert picked them up at before returning with them to Macon County.
Robert has lived in Macon County for about a year and has other family here as well.
Theresa, Ashley, Richard and Yliana will go back to Chicago Heights on Sunday, April 11.
“They’re from a big city,” Robert said. “My granddaughter has went out here and fed a goat, rubbed a donkey and watched a cow.”
Robert and Theresa said they’ve been especially thankful for the help of the Ramsey family, from whom Robert rents his house.
“They’ve been real good,” Robert said. “I couldn’t ask for better people to rent from.”
Theresa said they’ve gone so far as to offer her family a trailer to rent, so they can move to Macon County and be with Robert.
And she just might take them up on that offer.
“We’re seriously thinking about moving down here,” Theresa said. “The girls still have school. After that, I think we’re going to be heading this way.”