A few years ago I became interested in trying to find a classmate of mine. I saw an ad online for classmates.com. It said it was free to join, so I created a profile. I found the name of my classmate, so I typed up an email and sent it.
After I sent it, I received a notification telling me that I couldn’t contact anyone, see complete profiles, etc. without upgrading to a paid membership. My friend couldn’t open the email unless one of us were a paying member. I didn’t go back again until nearly a year ago when I received a notification that someone had contacted me.
When I visited the site I was shocked to see my mother’s married name in my inbox. I wasn’t able to open the message. I decided to ignore it, I wasn’t sure what to think about it.
Recently, I received an email from ‘classmates.com’, informing me that as a special offer I could read and reply to one message for free. I went to the site and was reminded of the message that was waiting for me, so I decided that would be the message I would read.
It turned out it was a woman 10 years my senior who wanted to know if I remembered her from when she visited my family in 1971. She indicated that she was my father and uncle’s half sister. She had somehow found a blog I’d written in remembrance of my father and saw the picture of my grandfather with my father and uncle when they were little boys. She recognized her father.
I had never heard of them having a sister, whether she was a half sister or a step sister, I had never been aware. I wrote to my cousin and asked her what she thought. She was born the year this woman referenced, but she contacted her oldest brother and sister to see if they had ever heard of this person.
After several discussions, we were able to put together some scraps of information we had and we decided to contact the woman.
My cousin and I have been talking regularly and we spent about 3 hours on the phone the other day discussing our childhoods, the family, the lack of communication and information within our family of origin. We agree that we are excited to think we have some connection to my father’s family, but we remain skeptical because this woman indicated that she knew of us and where we were in 1971, but in all these years she had never tried to find us or contact us.
I’ve emailed her (outside of classmates.com, as we found her on Facebook) and asked a variety of questions about her family, my grandfather – her father, and whether or not she had tried to contact my dad at any time after her visit in 1971, and though she’s responded to my emails, she’s not offered me one bit of information about herself, has not tried to answer one of my questions. She vaguely answered some general questions posed to her by my cousin, so I’m trying hard to be cautious.
My first inclination is to embrace this woman, to rejoice in the mere idea that I have another family member, another connection to my father, regardless of how remote her connection might be.
I have my cousin that I mentioned, but she has 4 siblings, all of which have been distant since my father passed. We were never close, by any means, when we were growing up, again, that had to do with my mother not liking my Aunt and Uncle, thinking my father wanted to be with his nieces and nephew more than he wanted to be with his own children, just because he went to their house to visit with his brother.
I’m working very hard on practicing some restraint. I want to proceed cautiously, as this woman’s reluctance to share anything at all about herself, after having made initial contact, is a bit troubling to me.
I think that the growth I’ve experienced recently is allowing me to step back from this situation and to control my desire to ‘jump right in’ without checking first to see how deep the water is. I’ve decided to withhold any ‘celebrating’ until I’m able to ascertain how much this woman may or may not know about my family and how open she’ll be about her own life.