‘I have a sister?!’

That’s what my newly discovered 40-year-old brother said to me when I found the courage to contact him.

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Published in Canadian Living in April 2013

I am nervous when I get off the plane at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I’m here to greet a man I’ve never met before. I’ve seen his picture so, as I scan the crowd, I know who I’m looking for: a tall blond in his 40s with a goatee.

I’m not sure what my first words will be or whether I should hug him. And I am worried about just how awkward this whole encounter might be. After all, we are complete strangers; a measly strand of DNA is all that unites us.

Over the past few months, we’ve talked on the phone a couple of times and exchanged a few emails. Then we decided to meet. We are linked by biology because we share the same father, but there is much that separates us.

For starters, he is a card-carrying member of the Republican Party and I’m a bleeding-heart NDPer. He’s a Seventh-day Adventist who keeps a dry house; I’m a Unitarian who has wine every night with dinner. He likes to fish and hunt; I’m a vegetarian who feels guilty about indulging in the occasional egg.

There are plenty of reasons to think we might not hit it off. That’s why I’ve kept the visit to a short three days. Still, I am hopeful for some kind of connection, as well as answers about the mystery man who was our father, a man who sired us but did not raise us, a man who left a hole in both of our hearts.

I spot him in the airport. He is flanked by his wife and fair-haired son. “Tim?” I ask, my heart pounding. We stand there for a brief moment, taking each other in.

“You two look so much alike,” says his wife, Branndan, breaking the ice. It’s true. There are a lot of familiar features in his face that I recognize from old black-and-white photos of my father.

In a flash, I am comforted by the sense that this visit is going to be much easier than I thought. It helps that Tim’s grin is wide, and so are his arms, as he stretches them out to embrace the sister he never knew he had.

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