Short recap: While trying to help a stranger from Ireland locate what happened to his great uncle after he immigrated to the United States, I discover we are related.
My first thought was, how do I send Brendan (the Irish man) this information and not sound like a complete nutcase? The email said, “Brendan, great news! Enlarged your uncle’s passenger list and now can read his actual destination in New Jersey. Also, he planned to live his half sister,” and I pressed send. He responded immediately, excited and astonished that his dad had not looked closer at the passenger list. The second email, “I know that woman’s name, she was my great grandfather’s sister.” “You understand this means your great uncle was the half brother of my great grandfather.”
What occurred next was a whirlwind of activity between us. I could feel Brendan’s sense of peace that he had fulfilled his father’s wish. He learned where the uncle settled, confirmed he had been a police officer and lived a good life in America, I felt great for him. Inside I wondered, how could this police officer have lived in my hometown and no one EVER mentioned that we were related? Then, I remember something my mother had said to me years ago, “all the Irish in this town are somehow related.” What are the chances?
About two months later, I receive an email from Brendan to inform me that he had a business trip to Seattle the next week. He wanted to take a side trip to New Jersey and wondered if I would be available. I didn’t even think before I replied, “Yes, let me know when you will be here.” I suggested that we meet in front of the Catholic Church where our ancestors had worshiped.
Beyond excitement was how I felt. However, friends and family voiced loudly, “Are you crazy?” “So you are going to meet a complete stranger that you talk to on the computer?” “What happens if this guy made the whole thing up?” There was a little voice in my head that kept telling me it would be fine.
While I waited in my car for Brendan, my cell rang and a voice stated, “This is the town’s police department. We heard that you are to meet someone, hit redial and a car will appear within five seconds.” I responded, “Thanks, will do.” Now I began to get nervous, what if my intuition was incorrect. Preoccupied, I didn’t notice a car had pulled in front of me until I saw the door begin to open.
In the same moment, we got out of our vehicles looked at one another and I knew deep in my soul, he is my family. The handshake became a hug and a flood of chatter ensued between us. I had done quite a bit of research and planned the entire day for us. We would begin in the churches rectory to let them know we would be wandering around the cemetery.
As we walked into the cemetery, my sister called my cell, “Is he there?” “Are you okay?” I replied, “Yes, he is and yes, I am.” I hung up, embarrassed by what he heard and tried to explain. He smiled, dialed a number on his cell and handed me it. On the other end was a woman’s voice who said in an Irish brogue, “Hello, this is Brendan’s wife and I was concerned that he was meeting a stranger.” “This has been difficult for us so far away, but he knew in his heart that it would be fine.” I looked into his eyes and said to his wife, “I understand completely and we are both fine.”
We looked at each other and said, “What are the chances?”
What Are the Chances, Part III will give our experience within the town.