Until recently, I was the Scrooge of online reunions. For me, Facebook had yielded more nonsense than names from my past. But in March I hit the reunion mother lode, after signing up for Ancestry.com. I had a single (and, to my mind, far-fetched) goal: to track down the first cousins I hadn't seen since I was around six years old, my uncle George's kids.
See also: 5 Genealogy Secrets.
My dad and his younger brother, George, had died within nine months of each other, in the late 1960s, and after that our families drifted apart. As the decades passed, I often wondered what happened to Pat, Linda, Susan, and Jimmy Perry, my closest link to my paternal heritage. I assumed I'd never see them again.
Yet within minutes of entering information about my dad's parents on the family tree I'd started building, Ancestry notified me that "tracip70" was working on the same tree. And there on her tree was my dad. I sent tracip70 a message, and within 24 hours I got a response. Her mom, she said, was Linda Perry; her great-grandfather was George Elliott Perry Jr. (my "grandpop"). Astonished at the fast turn of events, I wrote back, "Hi, Traci: You are my first cousin's daughter!"
Within 48 hours my four long-lost cousins, my two brothers, and I were madly e-mailing pictures, catching up, and friending one another on Facebook. Most surprising of all, my cousins all live within driving distance of me in Virginia.We agreed to meet at Pat's house in Yorktown, Virginia, on April 1.
I'll never forget the thrill of watching Pat, Linda, Susan, and Jimmy appear, one by one, at the bottom of the porch steps as I drove up. We hugged, we shared pictures and stories — and now I know three other women who share my husky voice. By the time I got home, e-mails about a bigger, summer reunion were already in my in-box. These days, it seems, the family that clicks together sticks together.
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