We like to share stories of reunion from other people as well as my own.
This is Rudolph's Story:
Until I was approximately eight years of age, the man was dead and un-named. Then my mother told me “Oh honey, your dad is probably alive somewhere. His name is Bill McCauley or McCullough. He doesn't know you exist and I don't know where he is.”
Partially satisfied with this, I carried on and pretty much made peace with it. It was the 70s after all and I am happy to be alive. In years to come she told me where she met him, what he looked like, as well as his work and family situation at the time around my conception. I took this information and with a couple misguided phone calls (in my early 20's) scared the shit out of a couple of fellows and the wife of another. To a one, they all denied any part in this drama and so I let it go. A little interim Bonus Material for you.....Until I was 16, I was (unknowingly) going by an alias. Until the day I needed my social security card in order to get my first job, I (and all of the schools I attended) believed my name to be Rudy Bernard Voorhies. Anyhow, I requested the necessary documentation from my mother and after debating her briefly as to why it was necessary, she conceded and sent it to my grandparents-where I was living at the time. A few days later it arrived and in the kitchen of my grandparents house, I opened it and looked at the frayed Social Security Card and found out that my name was actually Rudolfo Bernardo Flores.
By this time in my life, I wasn't exactly shocked. I found out later that I was named for her last ex-husband, one Rodolfo G. Flores, who was also named as father on my Certificate of Live Birth. They were wed about 2 months prior to my entrance into the world of the airbreathers and divorced approximately 4 months later. I never met the man but my (half) brothers said he was the best step-dad they ever had.
A little less than 30 years later (at 45) and having fathered 4 children of my own, my lady Amber and I were watching the shows “Long Lost Relative” and “Who Do You Think You Are” quite a bit. Well, after several episodes of each show, I looked to Amber and said, “Geeze, even with the lack of information I have, I have more than a lot of these people do. Maybe there's a real chance.”
So, in good form, this sweet lady got me an Ancestry test the following Christmas. I took the test, sent it off and started working on my maternal family tree. During this process I discovered that my mother was also ignorant of her heritage. Being either misinformed or mis-remembering that her father's line came from Germany. Regardless of DNA, her folk came directly from Drenthe, Netherlands.
In a phone call petitioning her to also test (so I could triangulate) I shared this info with her and she said, “Oh honey, our Germans were Black Dutch.”
I replied, “According to the paper trail, (that shows no one from Germany) and The VanVoorhies Association, we are actually part of the largest Dutch family in America but okay mom.” By the end of our conversation, she agreed to help me and do the Ancestry test. Directly after hanging up the phone I ordered said test and had it delivered to her directly.
Meanwhile, I really got into the genealogy and building my tree. I discovered wonderful family names hitherto unknown to me, like Shadrick and Syrilda and also some information that I could've done without.
Just saying, I don't get too excited to read a Will and Testament circa 1700's especially from a Southern U.S. ancestor. But my biggest take-away from this, especially upon discovering that my 2x Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Armstrong died very shortly after having her (my direct ancestor) second to last child, that died very young, is that regardless of whether I'd really want to sit at the same dinner table as some of them, these people were tough and I owe them a debt of gratitude.
This was the first time in my life that I had realized such and actually started developing some semblance of reverence for my ancestors. Shortly before my mother's test results came in (at the behest of a distant maternal cousin discovered in my Ancestry matches who had attended a talk by Don Anderson), I purchased a copy of “Paper and Spit”. After finishing the book I reached out to Don for advice, which he readily supplied.....along with some homework.
Along with this I had also purchased a Y-DNA test to trace my paternal line. I was expecting “green lights” and “arrows” from this but not so. My closest Y-relative in there was approximately 8 generations distant to me. Still worth it though.
I went on to upload my DNA results into any site that would allow me to do so free of charge. I reached out to many and was fortunate enough to get advice and help. I even discovered a maternal first cousin in Ancestry that I had never met before. Extended family picnics weren't exactly “all the rage” when I was growing up and my mother had “bad blood” with many of them including her only brother, who was father to said 1st cousin.
Finally! My mothers results come in and the closest match to me that didn't match her was (according to the DNA) a 2nd cousin or better at 480 cM. (cM = centimorgans) Well, armed with the story of Bill McSomething and about 300 years worth of maternal surnames under my belt, I reached out to this person and was delighted by a quick reply. She (Trudy) said none of the surnames were familiar (which made sense but best to not assume even with science on your side) but neither was the name of my father. We exchanged phone numbers and were soon on the phone.
She was pleasant, and having racked her brain, Trudy reported that there were very few Williams of that generation and very little family of Irish descent in the last hundred years. Determined to help me in my quest, she spoke with her mother Doris about me.
Doris was also interested in helping and without even having spoken with me yet, elected to test as well. Once her results were in (having matched me even closer than her daughter) she asked Trudy for my phone number and for about the next year Doris and I spoke often and even went on what turned out to be a “wild goose chase” together.
She entreated me to reach out to the only Bill in her family that lived in the same area as my father supposedly did. I wrote him a brief letter to which he replied via telephone. Although he wished me well in my search and welcomed me to the family, he was certain that he was not my father. Discouraged a bit, I moved on.
Very shortly after this, I started getting significantly closer matches that were related to Doris and Trudy. Emily matched me at 1203cM. Wow! I get a hold of Doris asking about this Emily and she informed me that Emily was indeed the grandchild of her nephew Richard.
I immediately reached out to Emily through Ancestry and she was quick to reply. At this point, I was still stuck on the whole Bill McSomething idea and so her letting me know that she heard that her grandfather (of German descent) had a “reputation” with the ladies just kinda went past me but even so,she was super close to me DNA-wise and therefore quite the find. The next time that I spoke with Emily, she reported having spoken with her father Rick (Richard's son) about me.
His response (according to her) was not exactly encouraging. Well, I was determined from the onset of this whole endeavor that I wouldn't fault any of them for being reluctant to embrace me and my story regardless of any DNA connection. So, remembering that I was the one knocking at the proverbial door and that these people knew nothing of me nor my intentions, I decided to take it up a notch.
By this time I was already Facebook friends with a few of this family and so proceeded to utilize that platform for full disclosure and created a Private Group titled “Who's This Rudolf Guy Anyhow?”. I figured if I am to scare any of them off, better sooner than later. I invited all of the family connected to Emily, Trudy and Doris and encouraged them to add family who might be friendly to my cause.
I felt like a stereotypical Millennial for the next few months. I spent about 40 hrs writing a “brief” history of myself, including (in addition to my “record”) my social, political, religious and philosophical leanings, pictures of me at different ages, a video (for sake of seeing my mannerisms) of an interview done with my old band and pictures (w/short bio's) of all my children.
A few weeks into this phase I had made a connection with Susan (niece of Doris). She had recently tested in My Heritage (where I had uploaded my DNA results) and the match was an astounding 1943.1cM.
Turns out that she and Richard are full siblings and they had another brother named Brad. Well, after having already gotten what felt like a second-hand “finger” from her nephew, I was reluctant to push connecting with his father and so after speaking with a willing Brad (who incidentally led a similar lifestyle to myself) I asked if he would test. He conceded and his results came back very similar to his sisters'. So, here I am printing off blank family tree diagrams and penciling in all of these people (bearing in mind ages and DNA amounts) to their possible familial slots, I came to the conclusion that Sue and Brad were either my Half-Siblings or My Aunt And Uncle. My mom wasn't a “square” but she wasn't into “old” dudes, so them being half-siblings made very little sense. On the heels of this most recent connection and also being that I had in the interim gotten matches with his other children, Rick (Emily's father) finally called me on the phone. He and I spoke for about half an hour or so, during which time we discovered a possible auxiliary connection, which was that his father and my mother had a close family friend in common! A week prior to this phone call, I had actually thrown away the only photograph I had of this family friend. His name was Jerry Jones and despite being barely acquainted with him, he was known to my brothers and I as Uncle Jerry. With this connection made, Rick elected to turn this conversation over to his father and about 10 minutes after our call ended, I am now speaking with Richard. He asked me what all the hubbub was and so I gave him my story. I also spoke with my mother about Uncle Jerry and being that her recollections were the same, Richard and I determined that we were all referring to the same “Jerry” Leon Jones. After this he recounted the story of when he met “a gal” (whose name escaped him) in Moses Lake, whom he'd had some “fun” with on the 4th of July in 1972 (I was born in March the following year) and no, he didn't go by an alias back then or otherwise. He never saw the woman again and neither did he know of my existence. Yes, he would take the Ancestry test.
Over the next several weeks we got acquainted, initially on the phone a couple times but mostly via facebook and text. He looked at the pictures and read the history and after a week or so was starting to say (along with his wife) that he was feeling pretty certain of what the results would be.
Well, I must say, the emotions in me (hoping that my quest was over) fighting with the need for science to come through and settle it. Trying to gird myself against getting attached to any of them (especially him) prematurely. I was already starting to like him as a person and really wanted it to be for the right reasons, after all he may end up being just one more piece of the puzzle. For all I knew they had close relatives that they didn't even know about. Or maybe I was a genetic anomaly who's results didn't follow the norm (you never know) and all the while doing my best to treat the situation with utmost respect for everyone involved.
Then there was my mother, still insistent upon it being Bill McSomething who was my father and also when shown photographs of Richard from the early 70's said that she didn't recognize him. This lack of a tidy “bow” was really eating at me. Everything fitting so close DNA-wise but on a regular “day to day” level, just not jiving. I realized it had been 45 years since they had seen one another and it was, after all (according to Richard) a one-night-stand and he didn't recognize her from photos either, granted they weren't from the 70's though. At the peak of my frustration/worry I thought that I might be in for a really big disappointment.
Shortly after this, I was really starting to feel invested (all the while telling myself to await the science) and so on a whim I decided to make a ringtone for Richard. Something that I would want to hear when he called with the results. If he wasn't my father then I could have a giggle, and besides it was something to do instead of checking my Ancestry, Family Tree, Heritage and 23&me matches again. I proceeded to find one of my favorite scenes from “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” on youtube, the one where Clooney says “I'll tell you who I am. I'm the paterfamilias.” I played it over and again recorded it and then chopped it up into a tidy ringtone and assigned it to “Rick Father?” in my phone.
After this, I decided to take a breath from it all and keep off of my computers a bit. One night about 2 months after I had first spoken to Richard on the phone, I got home from a long day at work. Self satisfied with that and also for not having checked my matches the entire day, I heard the phone ring. It was that ringtone. “I really hope making that ringtone was worth it”, I thought to myself as I answered and heard Richard Elmer Kruse (son of Elmer August Kruse and Della Jayne Goodwin) say, “Hello son.”
We chatted for a bit, during which I said to him “I have enough Rick's in my life and I'm loathe to call my new brother Ricky and out of respect for my new siblings that have been there since day one, I'd rather not call you what they do. You okay with Pops?”
“It'll take some getting used to but sure.” He replied.
“Well, I have no allegiance to my current surname.” Said I, “May I have your blessing to take the family name?”
“I'd be honored,” he said and soon thereafter we said our good-nights.
The next day I took my Name Change forms to the Courthouse and to the newspaper to begin a process that I had been anticipating for quite a spell and four weeks later Rudolfo Bernardo Flores walked into the good Judge Menahan's chambers and Rudolf Shadrick Kruse emerged and immediately asked the first new stranger he sees if he'd take a photo of him in front of the courthouse steps.
The stranger replied, “Can't you just do a selfie?”
I handed him my phone and said, “It's not really the same.”
Within a week or so of this, my father, stepmother and one of 4 new sisters came to mine and Amber's home in Helena, Montana and spent four days getting to know one another. Amber and my immediate after Company Conference in bed that first night confirmed. “I really like them,” she said.
“Me too! This is really weird,” I said, “It felt way more comfortable than you'd think it would.”
The next month all of our kids (except my son who had met them while they were in Montana) met us in Washington for a Family Union/Re-Union. We met more people on my father’s side in one day than I had met on my mother’s side in 45 years. Many of my close relatives including my elder sister Wendy, younger sister Tanya Lynn (who also came to Montana), elder brother Rick and various step-folk were met and enjoyed. Everyone treated me and mine as kin right off the bat and it reportedly felt genuine to us all. We spent about a week there and then returned home. Active contact has been kept ever since. And it's not one-sided either. Only one sibling have I yet to properly connect with. Even though it's now been nearly a year since my surprise arrival, I expect the situation is a bit stranger for some than others and that's okay. My mother -despite the 3475 cM DNA match that rivals her own match to me- is still on the fence (so much for a nice tidy “bow”) but is happy for me anyhow and liked very much that I took her Great Grandfather's first name as my new middle name.
Not only have I been able (with much help) to find the other half of my origins, I have also been inspired to “up my game” with regards to staying in touch with my extended family on both my maternal and paternal sides. It doesn't take much to just say hello once in a while, which is more than I have afforded any of my kin for most of my life.
I have also come to the conclusion (with regards to my direct descendants and humanity in general) that just as it only takes an inch of ground to stave off a flood, sometimes a notch up is all any of us can manage to take things from what we were given as children. Whether obvious or not, my ancestors (in my opinion) did that and I am grateful to them for bringing me here to take it up a notch (or better) myself. When I began this, I had hoped for three things most. A Story, a Name and a Handshake. I got that and then some. If I didn't know I was spoiled, I'd be rotten by now.