Blood Ties and Blue Eyes

I was an only child. For most of my life, it was just my mother and me. I had two uncles and grandparents that lived far, far away that we only saw every couple of years, or maybe yearly if we were lucky. Often we didn’t have the money to travel, though, and our relationship was a series of phone call and letters and birthday cards. My father’s parents, too, were part of my life although they sort of faded away when I was eight or nine.

When I was twelve, the phone rang, and the man at the end of the line said, “It’s your father.” I felt a rush of heat run from my hair to my toes, and I squeaked, “What?” before he went on to explain that he was my father and he was calling me to tell me his father had a stroke and was hospitalized and probably wouldn’t make it. At this point my mother figured out what had happened and pulled the phone away from me because I was near catatonic with shock.

I didn’t get to go to the funeral, or for his mother’s funeral either. Although he didn’t call me to tell me about that one.

But my father’s uncle was in touch with a friend of my mother’s, so when my dad started getting sick the word got back to us. I decided at that point to reach out to him and get in touch. I didn’t have an address; I just mailed him a letter with his name and Moriarity, New Mexico on it, and it got to him. He called me. I was 18.

I flew out to visit.

I only remember a few details of that visit, but the strongest memory is when I arrived at his house and a little girl – about ten years old – with eyes that looked exactly like mine answered the door. When I told her who I was, she flew out the door and into my arms. It was my youngest half-sister, Brigitte. Soon I meet Diana, her older sister, and we both looked at our faces with shock because we looked so much alike; same shape of face, same eyes, same eyebrows (although they are both blonder than I am).

The rest of that visit was a blur.

The next time I saw my dad it was while Charlie and I were visiting. None of the other kids were there; Brigitte was living with her mother in Louisiana, DiDi was off running a bit wild in El Paso, and my oldest half sibling – John – was away in the military.

Sadly, there wasn’t a next time after that. My father died in 2005, unexpectedly, in a fire he accidentally set while smoking and on 100% oxygen for his emphesyma.

It’s been challenging for me to keep up with my younger siblings; we live so far apart and our childhoods were so different. They had a father, and I did not, and sometimes that’s felt like a gulf too wide to cross. Our relationship consists of facebook statuses and likes on pictures. I thank God for social media because without it we’d be even farther apart.

But something’s happened that might change that.


Social media is a crazy thing, you know it? In 2009 I wrote this post on the four-year anniversary of my father’s death. Ironically, now, I see that I didn’t even get his name quite right; his name was really Howard John Rutz II. But even so, that post led to a woman named Sharmell finding my blog, finding my blog’s facebook page, and sending me a message.

Hello, my name is Sharmell I live in the state of WA. I have been searching for my father for many years, my mother had little info to share but he is on my birth certificate, Howard John Rutz II, he was in the military and was from Carlsbad, NM. Please if you can help me! I am 41yrs old and just want to know if you could possiby be my sister? Please contact me with any information you might have.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet my sister Sharmell.

More to come.

Comments Closed


  1. says

    I have a similar story that I will be sharing on my blog soon. I have always known about my half-sister but she did not know about me until our brother died. She had the father I always wanted and craved. I am glad my father was a great father to her but it has been hard for both of us to cross that divide you speak of. (Our father is also dead) Thanks to social media, my blog, and Face Book we have reconnected. Has it been easy – no. Lots of emotions for both of us. It is hard for her with the lies and secrets and to think of her dad as anything but wonderful. I want to know her and have a relationship with her and the week after Christmas she is coming – coming to visit me and all my kids. I will definitely be following your journey!

  2. says

    These family connections are a wonderful gift for your future. The genetic journey is an odd one at times, but those common ties touch us to the core. I have been on my own genealogy quest tracing my grandfather’s birth mother and her American Indian heritage.

    • Alexicographer says

      @BGomez (and @Cecily and @Charlie) … no, not if you refer to the “… it was just my mother and me.” That’s nominative*, subject case — a to-be verb should followed by the subject pronoun, so, ” … it was just my mother and I.” If those followed an action verb as a direct or indirect object, then, sure. “The story surprised my mother and me.” But though it’s often used incorrectly in spoken English, it should be “It is I,” not “It is me,” and throwing in the past tense (was) the just, and the mother don’t change any of that.

      (I am assuming Cecily original wrote, “It was just my mother and I” and has changed that. If this is some entirely different reference, then never mind!)

      (*Not for nothing, those 4 years of high-school Latin, apparently)

          • rin says

            Actually, “It was just my mother and me” is fine. English isn’t Latin, and the subject/object rules don’t always transfer. I promise. The default case for a lot of pronouns in English is actually the “me” form, and in general the correct (read: unstilted) pronoun in a post-verbal position is the object form, even if the “verb” is a form of “to be”. There are a lot of odd grammar rules that have been taught for ages assuming that English should follow Latin rules.

            The best way to be sure which pronoun to use in a “X & Y” construction is always to try it without the “and”; so “It was just me” (sounds good to me) vs. “It was just I” sounds very odd.

      • Kim says

        Give her a break – her blog doesn’t have to be written in perfect English. Its not a sponsored post.

  3. Tracey says

    2005? I’ve been reading your blog for 7 years? That’s impossible! But more to the point, WOW! I can’t wait to read more when you are ready to write.

  4. Kerrie says

    So thrilled for you Cecily, looking forward to the next part of the journey.

    My daughter (18) did not know her father & has two brothers (13 & 11) who she had never met. When the boys mother & he parted both the boy’s mum & I decided that something had to be done about our children meeting.

    We communicated via social media for around 18 months & in September finally met when they came to our area on vacation. It was a wonderful time for everyone including both mums who had both been treated badly by the same man.

    I hope you and Sharmell connect like my daughter did with her brothers. It is quite astonishing to me to see the genetic similarities. She looks quite like you.

    With love.

  5. Em says

    Holy crap. I can’t imagine the emotions you are having right now. The world is a crazy place! I can’t wait to hear more!

  6. says

    It’s those magic eyes!

    My folks divorced when I was three and I didn’t see my dad again until after my first son was born, and now, because of social media, we have a more continuous touch relationship than ever before, including playing words with friends- it’s nice. Look forward to hearing more!

  7. Alexicographer says

    How delightful that you two were able to connect. Nice to meet you, Sharmell. You’ve got a heck of a sister, I mean that in the best way. I hope that having more information about y’all’s dad will be a positive in Sharmell’s life (yours too, Cecily, except it sounds like you are the one with more information already — but perhaps you too will learn things from Sharmell about your dad), and that connecting will bring wonderful things to both of you.

  8. Janice says

    Wow! She is a beauty! Looks so much like you! I hope that you two can form a bond at least as close friends if not sisters. Please tell us more!

  9. says

    that’s absolutely fantastic news!! y’all look so much alike!! it’s gotta be more than a bit surreal for you right now. I look forward to reading more :)

  10. Tiffany says

    Oh my goodness! This story is amazing. How lucky you are to find your half sister. I cannot wait to read the rest of your story.

  11. Jill says

    Absolutely beautiful – one of those stories that is so good to read. I myself have several half- and step-siblings that I’ve never met. I would love to hear from them, especially now that both of my parents are gone. I have no idea how that would ever happen, but it warms my heart to live vicariously through you! Congratulations on your reunion! Sisters are truly the best.

  12. says

    OMG OMG OMG – how exciting! She looks so much like you. I hope you are able to give her peace and create a new friendship from this experience.

  13. Diana says

    Dude you made me cry, I remeber that day so well when we first met. Kinda makes this all the more surreal. I love how I was running wild in El Paso as that is the nicest way I have heard that put LOL. We are on an adventure that is for sure, I just wished we could all be in the same room together as that will be a hella of picture.

  14. says

    Wow. Having helped my daughter reunite with some previously-unknown siblings (she is adopted-her siblings were also adopted earlier, and she never knew about them) I can only say, “Cool.” I hope it’s everything you want it to be.

  15. Diana says

    Just thought about what I remember most about that first visit, You took me to see the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture show and I remember thinking I have the coolest sister in the world.

  16. says

    Simply amazing! The internet can be pretty awesome sometimes. Looking forward to reading more about this interesting new development in your life!

  17. Rebecca Taylor says

    Hello.. Sharmell is my best friend and I love her so much. I am so excited that you guys connected. I was blown away to see her eyes in your head! lol.. This is so crazy and she is so elated! I hope you guys meet soon and I can’t wait to meet you either!

    We been friends since June 10, 2006 and and we will forever be together and I hope that you will be in the mix with us! I am in tears cause she been lookin for years and it paid off!