2020 has been quite the year for everyone on the planet.
But this year has a little silver lining for my family.
In early December 2019, I was at work when I received an email via ancestry dot com from someone named Caroline from Melbourne. It showed that we matched as 1st/2nd cousins. She began to tell me how her dad John, was adopted. His birth mother was from Adelaide, and all he knew of his birth father was that his last name was Sullivan, known by the nickname Sully. Caroline signed off with "I am curious to know if any of your relatives could be connected to my father’s story".
At first I thought, well, he could easily be related somehow. My dads side of the family are from Adelaide and my Pa had three brothers so there were four Sullivan men moseying around Adelaide back then. But which Sully was Johns father?
After lots of emails back and forth, sending photos of our dads, sharing family traits, (us Sullivan's are tall, we like to sing and are sporty) we were slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I was in an uber home from drinks with a friend when I received Caroline's email with a picture of her dad. I opened it up and looked at this man and took a shocked breath in and let out a little quiet cry. I thought I was looking at my Pa. The face, the body type, there was something so familiar about this man.
Caroline and I figured that her dad John, had to be either my dads cousin...or brother!
I then broke the news to my Aunty Linda that she may have another brother. That was a life changing phone call I’ll never forget! It didn't take long for all my family, including my aunty and cousins to be on board. If John turned out to be dad and Linda's brother we would be very open to meeting and welcoming him into the family. At 96 years old, Pa is the only surviving Sullivan of the four brothers, this felt like it was meant to be that John could have a chance to meet his father.
The next step was asking our dads to do the DNA test to find out for sure. They both happily agreed.
Waiting for those results felt like FOREVER.
Then on Monday 20th Jan 2020, the results came in. It confirmed that our dads are half brothers! That night we planned a FaceTime for our dads to meet. That was quite something to witness. We discussed John and his family visiting Sydney to meet the fam. The plan was for April.
Then March and Covid hit. So, any plans for them to visit got squashed. Then Covid calmed down and everything was back to some sort of normality. They planned to drive up in June.
Then Melbourne's second wave hit, and they were in lockdown. In the meantime, my Pa was only getting more fragile and his memory fading.
Come December, when Victorians were out of lockdown we made the quick decision for me, dad, mum and my Aunty Linda and her husband to visit Melbourne for the weekend and finally meet John.
So just this Friday gone, we hit the road for Melbs. While travelling down we heard news of the latest Covid outbreak in Sydney, and that the borders from Sydney to Melbourne will be blocked asap! We got there JUST in time. But NOTHING was going to stop us this time! Not even a three car pile up on their street that blocked entrance to their apartment! We finally made it.
Seeing dad and John meet for the first time was quite an experience.
But seeing Uncle John with dad and my Aunty Linda (who in my opinion could be his twin sister!!) was quite surreal. John is so much like my Pa is uncanny. He sings in a deep tone that is JUST like my pa and his brothers. He is more like him in mannerisms than my dad is. It's trippy seeing Pa in John.
We had a big family catch up on Saturday where I got to meet all his kids, my cousins! It was also great to finally meet Caroline. If it weren't for her email, none of this would have happened. Now i'm not just saying this because they are my family...but John and all his kids are such friendly, and kind people. And his wife Jenny is a strong, funny, beautiful woman. I know Pa would be extremely proud of the family John has built.
Also an interesting side note is that John grew up in the suburb of Sandringham in Victoria, the same suburb that one of my dad's uncles lived and brought up his family. So, John has been living around the corner from his first cousins all his life and never knew it.
My lovely cousins back in NSW organised to FaceTime in with Pa so John could at least meet him that way. To witness a 73 year old man meet his father for the first time was quite emotional. Not a dry eye in the house. Pa sang Silent Night to us all. John could hear himself in that voice. Through tears, Uncle John said goodbye to Pa, "God bless you. Look after you. I hope you're happy. Made me very happy. I don't look happy but I'm very happy. Very happy."
I know it's been a shitty year for most. I have many friends going through heartache at this time. My heart hurts for my loved ones in the USA, and for the ones who have lost their family members this year. The ones with family stuck on the other side of the world. We need one joy right now. So this is why I wanted to share this good news story with you all. This year, one man named John, had one of the best years of his life.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
Stay safe. Stay well.