When I was around 13 or so, one of my dad’s brothers, began researching our ancestry. At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention to how he was finding everything, but I had the vague impression that he was calling people up and trading information. Periodically, he would bring his laptop to Oma’s and show us what he found, but none of it sank in until one day, he called my dad with quite the surprise.
I don’t know exactly what was said, but all of a sudden, I could hear my dad laughing and saying,
“No way! You’re kidding?!”
After they hung up, he reported the news: my uncle had just learned that my dad’s best friend since high school was actually their second cousin!
As it turned out, my dad’s great grandmother, Martha, and his friend’s great grandfather, Thomas, were sister and brother.
My dad called his buddy immediately to tell him, saying “Hi coz!” when he picked up. Explanations and laughter followed. We still laugh and talk about it to this day.
It was a while before I got into doing my own research, but this story stayed in the back of my mind and always inspired me to keep looking when researching seemed to hit a dead end. It taught me to reach out to people to get more information because family could literally be right around the corner.
Next time, I have my own story about how reaching out yields great results.