Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Friend Now Has Siblings

Dear Uncle,

As I wait for results from enquiry's I have not been a lazy layabout.  To the contrary I have been a busy family historian.  But not for our family.

My friend Mike had approached me several months ago and asked if I could find his birth father.  It wasn't an adoption situation but rather a divorce and the husband had disappeared, the wife remarried and the first husband never mentioned to my friend ever again. It wasn't discussed. (Just one of the banes of family historians)

Now my friend, after all these many, many years wanted to know where he came from on his fathers side.  Me and my big mouth had told Mike that it might take quite a while to find him since Mike really didn't have any info other than the mans' first and last name, where they had lived and his mothers name. And one more thing...this man had walked out on his mother when she was pregnant with him.

That evening I got on to the computer, went right to Ancestry.com and plugged in the name and hit search.  After a couple of double takes I was looking at a record of divorce. A few more searches and I had a public family tree that had been put up by actual, direct line descendants.  I sent an email  to Mike asking him for a few more details so that I might verify the info that I was looking at.  The pieces seemed to fit. 

A couple of days later Mike presented me with a 3 ring binder that had a cursory genealogy of his family.  Eureka! People to check out!  Using the info I went on a mad search on Ancestry and at Family Search to see what I could come up with.  I had results, I had the right info.  I had some bad news. 

How do you break it to someone that the person that they have wanted to make contact with has passed?  I hemmed and hawed as to just how I was going to tell Mike.  I finally decided I'd take the band aid route. Rip it off quickly.  I met with my friend and explained that yes I had information but sadly the gentleman in question had passed. BUT that the information that I did have might lead to other folks in the family.

It did. I connected with some of the individuals, cautiously feeling them out.  Would they be willing to correspond with Mike? Was there anything I should "break" to him first? This was a very sensitive situation.  Fortunately all the folks were more than willing to be in touch. Mikes wife got on the Internet ( the woman has detective genes in her that she didn't know she had) and using general searches found an obituary for Mikes dad.

And that's when things went crazy. He was married 4 times. The obit listed the names of his siblings. SIBLINGS !!!!!!!!!! Yes, indeed, not one or two but THREE half brothers!
The names of his Aunts were in the Obit. We had hit the mother lode.  Mike was no longer an "only child".

We've made a lot of progress since that day. Mike has had face to face visits with one of his Aunts who surprisingly, lived fairly close by.  And a very gracious widow, with a delicious sense of humor,  contacted the half brothers who responded with enthusiasm wanting to be in touch with the brother they didn't know they had. Handing Mike the emails with the contact information made me feel so incredibly happy.

Mike's story is still unfolding.  Information is still coming in.  But Uncle I have to tell you that this has been the most rewarding search I have ever done.  Being told "You don't understand how much this means to me.  You have given me FAMILY.  I am not alone." 

Goosebumps all over.  Yes, Uncle I do know that feeling.  Finding the lost and gathering them up to put into the blanks on the Family Tree. Knowing you have kin. Knowing that you are not alone. Bloodlines and Lovelines, the blending of families and what comes of it.

"The Best Thing To Hold On to In Life Is Each Other".  I have that plaque on my wall.  I see it a hundred times a day. It's just opposite of the plaque that says "Family".

My friend Mike likes both of those plaques.  Now they mean so much more.

Until next, Uncle,
Your Devoted Niece

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