It was a cold March day as I sat there, still trying to wrap my head around what just happened. My body has never felt so numb, not sure of my emotions. Should I laugh or should I cry? Am I sure this is even real? After 63 years of never knowing and not even sure if you'll ever know, is it possible?
Most of my family lives here in Carmichael. My grandmother, Sandi, has been an apartment manager in Carmichael for over 20 years. My parents both live in Carmichael, as do I and my husband. I worked at until I had my son, now I am a full time student at .
My grandmother turned 65 this past January. And for the past 22 years of my life she has always told me about this father she had but never knew. Her and her mother had left Baltimore when she was about two and never went back. I always thought this to be strange. I was close with my dad, how could someone not know their dad?
As I got older and started a family of my own, it bothered me more and more. At five months old I could already see the bond that my son and his father had. No one should be denied that kind of relationship, and that kind of love with a person. That's when I decided I was going to find out who my great-grandfather was.
Beginning my search, I went in with the impression that this man had probably already passed. But finding any kind of answers for my grandmother would be more than she already had. With the very little information I had and an ancestry.com website, I was going to make this possible. I was amazed at the amount of information and the numerous Edward Fuller's there were!
But somehow, more and more things began to connect and make sense. I found the man whom I believed was my Edward Fuller, my great grandfather, the mystery man. I searched and searched for more information. Why couldn't I find a death certificate? In my mind there was no way he was still living, my great-grandmother had died before I was even born.
That's when I decided to do a back ground check. What I saw before me was something I will never forget. A man by the name of Edward William Fuller, aged 84, born on July the 16th of 1927, living in the heart of Baltimore, Maryland. Several numbers I found listed for him turned up to be no good, and that really discouraged me. My last resort was to write a letter to the only address listed.
With little hope and much frustration, I dropped the letter in the mailbox. I prayed for a response, even if it was a "hey you got the wrong guy" kind of reply. I told several family members and friends about my quest, and they encouraged me. Even my grandmother. "What could it hurt?" she had said to me. I don't think she was prepared for what happened next.
On this particular cold March Saturday, we were out driving around like we do nearly every Saturday, looking for plants to plant in my garden. The phone rang, as it often does in my grandmother's car, which is ran through every speaker in her Dodge minivan. I noticed the number. It had a 410 area code. Strange? I had gotten a call from that number earlier on my cell phone, but I had left in the car while at the store. Someone had left a message but I hadn't called them back yet, I wanted to do it when I had gotten home because I couldn't understand the voicemail.
All of this processed through my brain so quickly, and my heart skipped a few beats. 410 was the area code to all of those numbers I had so desperately tried to call this past week. There is no way, it's not possible. Had my letter actually fell into the right hands?
I heard a man's voice and I held my breath. "Sandra, do you know who this is?" plays through the speakers of the minivan. My grandmother replies, "no," clearly unaware of what is happening. "This is your father."
I can hear those words over and over again in my head and still not believe they are real. Over sixty years, and here I am witnessing something no one ever thought would be a reality. I instantly focused on my grandmother. What was she thinking? How was she feeling? Was this ok with her? I honestly think she didn't know the answer to my questions either. It was all happening so fast.
We got to the store and we all politely excused ourselves from the car. I couldn't even focus! What was I here for? Oh yeah, picking out plants! All I could think about was what they were talking about, and all of the things going on in my grandmother's head.
To hear her tell me about him when I returned to the car was like listening to a storyteller reciting a fascinating story only told by them. Something forbidden or secret, and her deciding to tell me her secret was so exciting to me.
She told us that he had been looking for her for over forty years. He had a wife just a few years older than my grandmother and he works as a greeter at Walmart. He went dancing every Friday and Sunday night and he played the guitar in a band.
After a few days of phone conversations, we all decided that we wanted to meet sometime soon. With our big family and small budget, we flew him and his wife out to California to meet the family. The days seemed to drag on as the weeks went by. The closer it got to the day of their arrival, the more nervous everyone got.
It was a Thursday, and despite the recent warm weather, it was a cold and rainy Thursday. They were set to arrive just past 10:30 at the newer Sacramento International Airport. Excitement about seeing the new airport was overshadowed by the nervous pacing by family members below the escalators.
Thanks to the pictures we received in the mail, we were able to spot them in the crowd of people gathering near the baggage claim. It was a moment someone could never forget. Ed Fuller stood and faced his daughter and embraced her after sixty-three years. I will be forever thankful to witness such an event.
In the days following, I experienced first hand how much a family can be alike and never know each other. From the resemblance to the way we talk, it comes as such a pleasant surprise. The nervousness has been replaced with peace and love, and a great story to share with friends!
I will never forget this ordeal and the wonderful (yet frustrating) ways we got to this point. Every minute of my grueling search was worth every second of time with my great-grandpa.
To the hope that my grandmother will finally have some sort of peace of mind when she thinks about her father, and to the hope of inspiring others to reach out and search for others. You just never know if yours could be a unexpected happy ending.