The past few weeks have been a voyage of discovery for me. A person totally unknown to me left a message on a relative's "Heritage" site saying, "I knew your father." She indicated she didn't want to create a problem but if wanted to know more I should reply. Thinking it was undoubtedly some sort of con I was nonetheless curious. What a shock to learn that she was a cousin. She proved her relationship forwarding me copies of two handwritten letters from my mother. I recognized my mother's handwriting and the contents gave witness to their validity.
Over the past few weeks I've learned things I did not know and corrected things I thought I knew. For example, while my birth certificate shows my father as Joseph Willard Hines his name was actually Jasper Willard Hines. A southerner -- most like a Virginian or Marylander, not sure about that -- the name was a family moniker passed on. Either my mother, in an attempt to "hide" things or she just didn't like it, changed it. One of the half-brothers is indeed Joseph Willard Hines, but he was born in 1954 when I was 11. My cousin, my father's sister's daughter, is seven years older than I. She's known about me from the "get-go" but waited until all those directly involved were gone.
Now we all know about each other and contacts are being made. For all of us the situation is surreal. My older brothers and sister suspected I existed but to my knowledge had no direct information about me as our cousin did. While it wasn't a total shock to some of us, it has taken some getting used to for all of us.
My mother told me I might have some half-brothers or sisters "out there" but I guess I never gave it much thought. My mother wove a web of fabrications and I never quite knew what to believe. I never gave trying to locate anyone on the "Hines side" much consideration. I had no way to do it anyway and I didn't know where to start. Our cousin, however, knew my name from my mother's letters and eventually searched for it on Google. When I tried it just now my picture popped up on "MyHeritage". That's how my cousin Jane found me. Seeing the picture convinced her I am related.
I told the folks at Camelback Christian Church last Sunday that it was quite a trip to learn you had a family totally unknown to you. I likened it to a Christian walking into the Camelback church to discover a congregation of brothers and sisters you never knew existed. In a church family you can find instantaneous acceptance because you are all adopted into God's family. That's exactly how I've felt with my biological brothers and sisters newly discovered. We share our father's DNA and that makes us family. Getting to know them, finding out how we're alike and how different we are is going to be fun and exciting. I'm on a voyage of discovery and I can't wait!