ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Echo editor shares tale of connecting with long-lost relatives
This Thanksgiving, a special piece of my life that I’m thankful for is discovering where I come from and the family I didn’t know existed.
On Feb. 16, 2011, my mother’s birthday, the curiosity of wanting to know where I come from hit its peak and I would begin my journey of discovery. A fan of TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” seeing all the incredible stories people unearth about their past that ultimately changed their lives made me want to experience it myself.
After months of researching on Ancestry.com, I was hooked with each click of my mouse as my family tree continued to grow, especially my mother’s family. My great-grandmother Katie V. Myrick-Hardy, born in 1898 in Georgia and was biracial (but others appeared as white), was the spark to that led me to something special, her mother. My late grandmother barely talked about her grandmother but from my knowledge, her name was Carrie. She owned a farm that served as a refuge for her and her siblings to turn to when things got tough.
After the similarities from my family tree matched others but I unfortunately didn’t make the connections that I longed for, the image of my second great grandmother Carrie P. Myrick held something special. One Ancestry member by the name of Andre E. Myrick, whose family tree was nearly identically as mine, from Katie all the way to my grandparents. The heart palpitations and anxiety took over as I examined his tree with detail, trying not to get my hopes up but still hopeful. I messaged him repeatedly over a period of days, weeks but no answer.
While I was on Facebook, something told me to type in his name and eureka, his account appeared. Too afraid to send a request I simply messaged him with all the discoveries and connections we held, ending my curiosity with the uncertain yet hopeful question – I think we might be related?
To my surprised he responded and my keyboard clicked away madly as he urged me to ask him whatever I wanted to know. I obliged and throughout our conversation the pieces were all falling into place and my hopes floated midair. It was when he said “Uncle Olin” – my late uncle and the proclaimed life of the party – there was nothing else to ask. He was my cousin, I found my family.
After corresponding for a year, in August 2012, Andre brought his family to stay at our home for a few days. I remember it being cold and rainy in Saginaw. The house had the scent of Pine-Sol as my mom wiped over counters and floors anxiously. “They should be here in a few minutes,” she said, which only made me antsier.
When they walked in the door my first impression was “Yeah, he looks like us.” From the moment he opened his mouth it felt like he was a family member we haven’t seen in years. He was stern yet loving, humorous with flawless sarcasm and was blunt – he fit right in.
His wife, Viviana, hailing from Colombia, was beautiful with a sweet spirit. His two children, Nicole, 7, and Andres, 4, have a serious taste for Oreo cookies, so much so we had to hide the package. I instantly became attached to my little cousins, especially Nicole, who always looked for me whenever I disappeared or left for work. She’d play my piano or occupy her time until I returned home and she’d jump in my arms.
What sticks with me until this day is the final hug I gave Andre before they departed when he said, “You made this happen.” My heart swelled with joy and those few days made me feel more complete than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I’m thankful and blessed to have gained something so irreplaceable and meaningful in my life. I’ve never loved so quickly since the moment these four came into my life and what we created together will last a lifetime.