The call came out of the blue one evening in early February.  I didn’t recognize the number, but it was after 8:30 PM so I didn’t think it was another telemarketer.  It was from the area code in which I live, so I assumed it was a friend or acquaintance from the local area.  I answered the call with the expectation that I’d quickly find out what they wanted and we’d both move on with our plans for the evening.   I couldn’t have been more wrong!

As it turned out, the call was actually from a genealogist.  She verified my name and then asked if I had married a girl by the name of Chris Lindsey in 1976.  I was quick to point out that I had not only married her, but that we were still married and looking forward to celebrating our 43rd anniversary in June.  I learned a long time ago that remembering your anniversary was a very big thing if you wanted to stay married!

For reasons that I didn’t yet understand the genealogist got very excited when I told her that.  She informed me that she was working on behalf of a woman named Michelle Clark Radke.  Evidently Michelle was looking for some connection to her biological family.  Her mother had abandoned her years before, leaving behind very little family information.  For the last few years Michelle had been searching for some connection to her mother’s family.

As our conversation continued it quickly became apparent that though Michelle and my wife, Chris,  had different fathers, both had been born to the same mother just over 20 years apart.  Neither one of them even knew the other existed before this phone call.  After discussing some verifying details with my wife and I the genealogist asked if she could contact Michelle and let her know that she had found a connection.  We said yes, not really knowing what to think.

As it turned out, we didn’t have much time to think!  Less than 10 minutes later we received a call, also from our home area code, that turned out to be Michelle.  Incredibly, she lived on the south side of the Portland metro area, less than 30 minutes from us. After nervously chatting with me for a few moments I asked if she wanted to talk with her sister.  As I listened to their animated conversation I couldn’t believe what was happening.  Though they shared the very checkered history of their biological mother and a string of step-fathers, these two wonderful women had moved on were thriving in their own lives.  And now, despite long odds, they had found each other!

As they closed the conversation they decided they wanted to get together ASAP to meet in person.  I worked out the details with Michelle, choosing the informal atmosphere of a Cracker Barrel near their house.  I felt the casual surroundings would ease the tensions of such a high anxiety moment of meeting a sibling you didn’t even know existed.

Three days later we arrived at the Cracker Barrel early to choose a  table in the corner of the restaurant.  We told the staff what we were doing and waited in anticipation for Michelle to arrive with her husband Devin.   The staff was ecstatic!   This was the kind of thing you read about in books or see on TV…..but to experience it in real life was incredible.

The meeting was everything I could have hoped it would be!  As Chris waited at the table I went into the lobby to greet Michelle and Devin when they arrived.  It was like we were “old friends” almost instantly.  When I escorted them to the table where Chris was waiting you could almost taste the anticipation in the air. Devin, I and the entire staff at the Cracker Barrel were all astounded at how much these two sisters looked alike, and more importantly, how quickly they bonded.   It was almost like they had known each other their entire lives!

We spent the next three and half hours talking together over a casual dinner.  We were waited on hand and foot by the staff at the Cracker Barrel, several of whom were almost in tears themselves as they watched this sweet reunion.  The experience was life-changing for all of us!  These two ladies found something neither one of them dreamed possible.

Since that time Michelle and Chris have been texting back and forth, and looking forward to the opportunity to share their lives together as we move forward.  Though we are at a different stage of life than Michelle and Devin, I think our lives will now be forever connected.

Chris and Michelle share a very difficult history.  They have been working to piece together the puzzle that is their lives. Their biological mother had issues that prevented her from being the mom they deserved, for reasons that neither one of them will ever be able to understand.  But God miraculously brought these two back together and placed them just 25 miles apart in beautiful Oregon.  He has taken the broken pieces of their lives and knitted them together in a way that only He could do.

I’m so grateful that Michelle has come into Chris’ life.  I think it means more to her than she’ll ever really be able to express.  And I sincerely believe the same is true to for Michelle.  There are some holes in our past that can never be filled!  But every once in a while something like this happens that completely restores our faith.   It was a modern day miracle….a blessing that neither Chris or Michelle ever imagined.

I’m so glad I got to witness it firsthand!

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