Summer of Surprises

Connections, people, they are everywhere.

In general, I’m not huge fan of surprises. I mean, I like to know where we are going so I can choose the right footwear and know to eat something before leaving the house when the plan isn’t dinner like I was told but to go to a show involving many cocktails. But I also happily freaked right out when my cousin showed up out of the blue to early Christmas a couple of years ago or that time my husband flew 10 hours to be with me for my birthday. I love the idea behind surprises, but they are a little hit or miss for me.

But this summer. Oh my gosh, guys.

Secondly – I’ll have to come back to the first – one of my dearest friends texted to say she’d like to show up the next week for a visit. It was amazing to have her here even if it happened to coincide with record-breaking heat in England (where no one has a/c in their houses). We visited touristy places, did facials, hung out, saw theatre, watched movies, caught up, and cried a little. It had been too long. And it’s always nice when someone knows you well enough to burst out in synchronized random song, like on cue. It did my heart good. Plus, I got to tell her all about the big surprise of 2019…

It all started when I was on my way home from a concert, a bit bored on the train and trolling through email. Ancestry had a new match for my Dad and the girl seemed close – a first cousin or something – so I checked her out. It was no one I knew so I clicked on her matches with my Dad and found her mother. Compared that woman with my Dad and nearly dropped the phone because they were a 100% match Parent/Child.

Wait, what?

I screenshotted it and sent it immediately to my sister who was as appropriately shocked as me. We got on the phone as soon as I made it to my car. Got to love the time difference that she was still up. I said I’d call Dad the next day. Then my husband and I – going on nothing but names – tried to find this woman and her daughter on social media. It was nearly midnight by now, too late to get into the convo with Dad, and the hubs said he needed sleep. Off went the light, but I stayed up sifting through Ancestry on my phone and wondering, wondering, wondering…

I ended up telling the whole story to a friend (OK, basically a stranger) at work the next day because, well, I had to talk about it. I called my Dad as soon as I got home:

“Hey kiddo, you just caught me, I’m about to leave for a doctor’s appointment.”
“Oh, I wanted to talk to you…”
“Well, I have 5 minutes.”
“Not sure this is a 5-minute conversation, Dad.”
“What’s going on?”

I asked if he’d been on Ancestry lately. He hadn’t. I told him that there seems to be a new match – a woman – who appears to be his daughter.
“That’s not possible.”
“Well, unless Ancestry has had one huge mess up, we’re genetically connected to her. Could there be someone you didn’t know about?”

We decided that I would reach out and try to get more info. I craft and re-craft my initial message. I mean – WHO THE HECK ARE YOU? WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? probably wouldn’t go over well. So, I settled on saying that I see we’re connected on my Dad’s side and that I’d love to know more about her. She wrote back and told me that she was adopted as a baby, told me where she was born, and that her kids had given her the Ancestry as a Mother’s Day gift. She’s a year older than my eldest sister would have been (so no cross over with my Mom, thank goodness).

There’s an 8-hour time difference with my Dad and I got this message in my morning and had to wait the whole day to talk to him, but I called him as soon as I got home. He was flabbergasted and so confused. We try to work out dates and try to figure out who the mom could have been. He had been finishing up with his stint in the Navy, must have been about 20-21 years old, and moved to three states within the space of four months. We’re certain she was conceived in CA, but her mom might not have known where to find Dad to tell him.

See, the thing is, I know without a shadow of a doubt that Dad didn’t know about this pregnancy. He was raised in a time that you absolutely did the right thing and married the mother if you were the father. And not to tell tales, but this had happened twice, once with my Mom.

Slowly my potential-but-seriously-for-real-new-half-sister and I begin to exchange notes. I was beyond curious and wanted to know absolutely everything about her and her life, how she grew up, what her hobbies are, her dreams, her kids, what shows she watches and books she reads, if she has the same humor as us, and on and on. But I was also trying not to freak her out. And I know that this has to be a lot to take in. I did ask if she had expected to find her birth dad when she signed up. She hadn’t. I asked if she’d like to speak to Dad because I said I thought he’d like to talk to her. Still trying baby steps – don’t scare off the new sibling. So, they started talking. And my sister started chatting with her as well. We tell my brother and other family members, and finally Mom, after Dad said that we could. She immediately counted dates too, and once she realized that it was before her time, was all right with it. It was just so wild.

Last week Dad drove 8 hours to see/meet his now eldest daughter. He met a couple of the grandkids as well. We set up a group chat with as many of us as available and tried not to talk over each other as we marveled at these wonderful, beautiful, amazing people that we suddenly know about and are getting to know. New blood family. It’s amazing.

My husband, an only child and still getting used to being an uncle (in the double digits), asked if this meant there would be new nieces/nephews. I told him yes, it did. He’s resting now.

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