My cousin Dena Taylor used www.gitrace.org to contact me. I believe she posted a message for me in February 2009.
In December 2009 I was attending a family history class for 'something of interest to do' after retirement from work. On the last lesson the teacher invited us all to look for 'lost relatives'. I told her that all I knew of my dad was his name (Fay),where he came from, and that he was serving in the American armed forces in England during World War II when he met my mother. I told her that I had never looked for my father as I didn't want to upset any family he may have who possibly would not know of my existence. After I went home from class the teacher continued my search and decided to look on the www.gitrace.org website using the information I had given her. She couldn't believe it when she found the message for me and rang me at home. She said "Linda, you had better sit down while I tell you, I have found a message for you from your cousin". And that is where my story starts - I emailed my cousin Dena and she emailed me back immediately. We began regularly emailing each other and then her sister Taylor sent me some information on my family history. The three of us continued contact and got to know each other by email. Taylor sent me some wonderful photos of my ancestors, including a photo of my father, with his brother (Dena and Taylor's father), his sister, and their mother and father (my grandma and grandad). Unfortunately, my father passed away at the early age of 44, so it was too late for us to ever know each other. My grandma and grandad had also passed away and my father's sister. Luckily, Dena and Taylor's father, Duane, was still alive and well. Dena and Taylor kindly offered to show me and my husband Steve the area where my father had lived and died. I decided not to waste any more time and began to plan a visit.
Between us we arranged to meet in Portland Oregon, where my father had lived and died. He was born and raised in Baker City. Duane, my uncle, kindly joined us on our trip (in May this year)and we travelled across Oregon to Baker City, with Duane telling me stories of my father along the way. It was a wonderful journey. I visited my father's grave site and the home where he lived as a child. I also visited the family grave sites. I saw houses that my father and his brother (Uncle Duane) had built together. I also met other cousins, who were very kind and welcoming to me. All in all, it was an amazing and wonderful experience and one I wouldn't have missed for the world. I feel so lucky to have found my 'new family'. The only sadness is never having known my father Fay, who I believe was a good and kind man. I also discovered that Fay had wanted to have me live with him when I was born but circumstances had not allowed this to happen. My experience made me feel so happy and gave me 'closure' after all these years. I cannot thank my cousins Dena and Taylor enough for getting in touch, and all the care and kindness they have shown to me. This is only the beginning of our story and we intend to always be in touch. In fact, Dena and Taylor are planning to visit England next year and it will be my turn to show them around. I cannot wait to see them again. I hope my story gives hope to others who are searching for lost relatives - good luck to all. Linda Riley