Jaime Concepcion

Jaime Concepcion
World Trade Center

Forever Seeking a Reunion

Mostly he was not there. Not when she turned 15. Or when she graduated from high school. To Kirsy Concepcion, growing up in the Dominican Republic, her father, Jaime, was little more than a voice on a long-distance call promising that she and her two sisters would join him in New York someday.

Finally, last July, Miss Concepcion, 21, flew to New York, visa in hand. The man whose voice she knew by heart met her at the airport. They got to his apartment in Washington Heights after 3:30 a.m., time for him to head to his job as receiving clerk at Windows on the World. "I really didn't know what he liked or what he didn't like," Miss Concepcion said. "But he kept saying it was a mistake to have left us."

Immigrant life in New York was not easy for Mr. Concepcion, 46. He worked in restaurant kitchens and saved his money. Over the years, he met another woman and started a second family. But he kept promising they would be together. "He'd say, `If it takes till the day I die you are going to come to New York,' " recalled Virginia Concepcion, Kirsy's older sister.

After all those years apart, Kirsy Concepcion had just two months with her father, but she will never forget a single moment of them. Her sister Mercedes had a few weeks longer. But Virginia Concepcion's visa was not approved until November. Phone calls and photographs are all she has.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 3, 2002.

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