Oh Brother, Where Art Thou

A year and a half ago I told you all that I have a half-brother and that I had not seen or spoken to him since our dad died, now 18 years ago. I started looking for him on-line but was coming up empty. I felt a lot of mixed feelings and sometimes I was spurred on to search and other times felt like giving up. I mean 18 years is a long time to not know a person. Was it worth it?

About a month ago I met up with  One N Jen at Zumba class. Her mother-in-law*  was visiting and joined us. We all got to talking and it came up that she lives in an area of California I am familiar with because my MIA former best friend lived there for a while and it’s near where my half-brother lived when I knew him. I mentioned that my brother used to teach math in the same area as she still teaches. She asked me his name and when I told her she said it sounded familiar.

Small world, right?

She offered to do a little research and reach out to him on my behalf. I gave her my contact information, excited and nervous. Not too long after that, she sent me an article with a photo of man who was in fact involved in the school district and who had the same name as my brother but he did not look like the man I remembered. I stared at the face and thought, even if 18 years changed a person, they wouldn’t change him into someone unrecognizable. It wasn’t him.

A little later she sleuthed another man by that name who used to teach and became a principal for many years. She sent an article from 2009 that talked about his retirement.There was a photo in the article and, without a doubt, it was my brother. I could see the resemblance though he was gray-haired and thinner. The article said he’d been battling lymphoma for nine and a half years and while he was retiring, he still had more chemo treatments to do before setting out on travel adventures with his wife (the same wife he had when I was little).  I worried that I had waited too long.

She called the school and got his phone number and they also forwarded an email to him on her behalf. He was still alive! She left a message telling him that I was looking for him. A week or two went by and nothing happened. She messaged me wondering if I’d heard and I felt defeated, telling her that no, there had been no message from him. Maybe he wasn’t interested in knowing me? Maybe he wanted to leave all things related to our Dad in the past? I had no idea.

And then I checked my Facebook messages on Saturday. I hardly ever check my Facebook messages you should know but for some reason felt compelled to that day. There was a message from him there saying hello, that a teacher in his school district had messaged him saying she had run into me, inquiring what I’d been up to these past almost-two decades.


I wrote him back, of course, but now I’m thinking I said too much or the wrong thing. I filled him in about the family and myself- the Cliff’s Notes version. I asked about his 3 kids and his wife and his health and his retirement. I also said I’d like to talk to him about our Dad since I feel like maybe we had different experiences with him. I’m not sure if I should have said that yet but that is so like me. I always come on too strong and too honestly. But it’s out there. We’re Facebook friends of all things. And there’s been an email exchange.

So now I wait and see what comes next.

*I cannot thank Jen’s mother-in-law enough for going above and beyond to help me find my brother. Thank you Laurel!

29 thoughts on “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou

  1. It is always best to be yourself, and remember that if it is meant to be it will, and even the most difficult situations will always turn out to your net benefit. Also, I love you.

  2. One of the worst things in life is regret and not trying something. I hope that everything turns out well for you in this. Just always remember that you did so something and now you won’t have to wonder anymore. And lady, ALWAYS be yourself. Never apologize for who you are. 🙂

  3. Wow! What an amazing connection!!! My heart is fluttering right now for you. For your sister. For him. Just take one day at a time and enjoy the moment!

  4. I don’t think I can top Tracey’s comment. This happened to a friend of mine, who found her long lost half brother on Facebook and was incredibly torn about how to approach him…because of course she had no clue what level of relationship he wanted to have.
    I’d say anyone in that situation would most likely be at least curious. I hope it works out for you regardless. 🙂

  5. Wow! I hope that things work out for the best between you and him. I hope that he will be willing to talk to you about your Dad. Good luck with this new “adventure”.

  6. What a small world, right? I’m really happy this happened to you, and I hope everything works out for the best and you find some answers about your dad.

  7. I’m so glad you found him, Sizzle! And Jen & her family are so awesome for helping, although I expect nothing else from such good peeps.

    I hope he’s just soaking it all in and reaches out to you again soon!

  8. Wow, it’s amazing how some things play out… I hope you can reconnect and get the relationship with him that you want.

  9. Our lives parallel in some strange, unforeseen ways, lady. I don’t think there was a wrong thing you could have said. It sounds as if he is far too into life and experience to be put off by an email. Best wishes for you!

  10. I always think life leads you where you need to go and gives you the people you need when you need them. Awesome that she helped you, and awesome that you are in touch again. I’m thinking good thoughts for you to have the kind of relationship you want with him, whatever that may end up being.

  11. That’s amazing! I have a long-lost half brother too, although I’ve never met him and didn’t even learn about him until I was in college. I don’t know enough details to even hunt for him, but I will dig more into it someday when my mom is willing to tell me more.

  12. It never ceases to amaze me when the world closes in on us, mostly in good ways. If we’re at all resourceful, there is so often a way to find what we need. So happy that you’ve made the connection … I can only hope you get out of it what you want.

  13. What exciting news! I think it’s natural to question how you’ll be perceived, especially as you wait for his response, but I also think part of the gift of hearing from you is really hearing from YOU – warm, authentic, sassypantsed YOU. I hope the experience is a rewarding for you both.

  14. Small, small world, indeed. Laurel is an amazing person, and I’m so lucky to call her my mother-in-law. I would’ve expected nothing less than all she did to help you.

    I think having a complete stranger reach out to you as L did to your brother would be totally overwhelming and likely he is processing what happened, how he wants to proceed, etc. Whatever the outcome, though, I don’t think you’ll ever regret it.


  15. This is such an incredible story, and I’m so glad it ended (or really, started!) with an email exchange. Sometimes I think about nuking my Facebook account, but it’s stories like this, and situations similar to this one, that always change my mind.

    Here’s to new beginnings!

    (And I second Kaply about being yourself/not worrying about coming on too strong. You are you and you are strong, and he will be blessed to have you in his life. Hopefully he’ll know that soon (if he doesn’t already) just as surely as we all do.)

  16. That is so so cool! And I am sure you did not say too much. I bet he is just as curious as you. I hope he feels better soon.

  17. Wow. My brother is adopted and we found his biological family….I think he is happy with finding them even though it isn’t necessarily an ideal relationship. Good luck!

  18. wow. that’s amazing. i’m glad you found him and went for it.

    during the course of my therapy this past year i finally got the courage to sit down with my (six years older) brother and ask him all the things i needed to know about my (our) childhood, parents … through him (among other things) i got to know a completely different dad than i thought i knew. whis is such an important step for me and while it broke my heart to some extend (because i don’t have the chance to talk to my dad any more) it gave me a strange feeling of peace to know i had a loving, great papa instead of the selfish prick i grew up thinking he was.

    so, i think it’s great that you got in touch with him and i hope he’s ready to talk and fill in some blanks for you! xoxo

  19. Wow, that’s such a great story of you reconnected with him. And now FB friends, it seems pertinent to the times, doesn’t it? Good luck!

  20. Wow this gave me goosebumps. I can’t imagine what it must be like to reconnect with someone after all those years. So glad you were able to find him!

  21. I’m so glad you found him and that you guys reconnected. No matter what happens next, you had the contact. I have a good feeling about the next steps but am so proud of you for taking this leap. ❤

  22. Wow what a sequence of events. That must have been pretty mind-blowing for you. I hope everything works out for you two 🙂

  23. WOW. I hope everything works out, and that you’re able to re-establish those family bridges! 🙂 I honestly believe that sometimes the universe makes us take those necessary leaps of faith. Best of hope!! 🙂

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