The month of March was a whirlwind. It was a flurry of house things and guests and crazy. So, what was it all about? Family. New family and known family. This will be a long post so be prepared……
The end of November, 2017 we were at dinner with very dear friends saying goodbye as we were leaving a couple days later to move from New Mexico to Virgina. This was an extremely emotional time on it’s own. Then……My husband received an email and then a phone call in quick succession. Chuck said “I think this might be my brother!” everyone at the table was like- WHAT!?!
The story in a nut shell. Way back when, Richard, [Chuck’s dad] in Vietnam had had a relationship with a Vietnamese woman. This relationship created two children, both boys. At some point there were family commitments that required Richard to break off the contact to Vietnam. It wasn’t until many years later, when his American kids were adults that he shared he had had this relationship and two children. I can’t say what information was shared as I wasn’t part of that, but I do know that names and specific places were left unspoken. Therefore no contact had ever happened. Until that dinner!
Pete began a long search to try to find his long lost father. It took a lot of sleuthing and creative thinking. Eventually, Pete had a DNA test done and uploaded it to Ancestry.com. This made a connection! But not quite what he was hoping for. The DNA connected to Ron Anderson, a cousin, not a direct connection to Pete’s dad. There had been a family disconnect many years ago with the Anderson’s and the Hretz’s, leaving more questions than answers. It seemed like a dead end. But Pete is persistent and wasn’t about to stop there. He contacted a DNA Detective he had met through a Facebook group. This person took all the of the collected info and starting digging. Within 5 hours there was a name, Richard Hretz, he had 5 daughters, 2 sons and had lived in Florida. This matched the most up to date information Pete’s mom had known. Since Hretz is not a typical spelling and all along Pete’s mom was saying his name was Richard Rets, that was a complication that had to be overcome for the connection to be made. Pete was armed with email addresses and phone numbers. He had never been closer! He sent out a flurry of emails to all the addresses. My husband being the only living sibling with the last name still Hretz was the first connection. And he did indeed make that connection! Pete had found his lost family at last. Facts were shared and plans to meet were made.
As we had moved to Williamsburg, VA we were only 3 hours from where Pete and his family live in Raleigh, NC. Pete came for a visit to meet Chuck and they starting making plans to get all the family together to meet Pete and Loc (the other brother) and since we are pretty centrally located between all the siblings we offered host everyone.
Back to my loss of the month of March. Having just bought and moved into our house in February there were so many things I wanted to do to make it a home. [I basically updated every aspect of the house!] A home I would be sharing with almost every immediate member of both Chuck’s family and mine. I really wanted it to look it’s best. We had 50 people for the reunion, serving dinner both Friday and Saturday. Our oldest daughter, Stevie, came down from Alexandria, VA on the train. Which was so amazing. (I reallllllly like her!) As a added bonus we had the pleasure of Chuck’s sister, Jane, and her family stay with us for the whole weekend. And, I have to say, I think that was my favorite part of the weekend!
Jane is lovely and her husband, Bill, is so funny. She has two beautiful, charming daughters who brought their boyfriends for a wonderful spark of youth and enthusiasm. They arrived Thursday evening giving us some extra time to visit with just them. It was great. I truly hope they will come back often!
So who all came? I’ll list them in order by age of the siblings and I won’t include boyfriends and girlfriends to simplify things. The order; sibling, spouse and children.
Mary, Keith and Beth and Laura.
Chuck, Kym, and Stevie, Tim and Max and my mom.
Margaret and Joey and Jillian.
Jane, Bill and Sarah and Abbey.
Loc and Alyssa.
Pete, Lin and Sean and Richie.
Even Ron Anderson, who really was the link that connected everyone, was able to make it! Such an amazing thing, this finding of lost family, I know my shortened version is not nearly enough to really show what a blessing this is for everyone. Pete said this was the happiest day of his life. I’m honored and humbled to have been a part of it. It is wonderful to have so many together for a happy occasion.
And I really want to say this house was great for entertaining. Many of the cousins gathered in the dining room to play games. The siblings collected themselves in the family room to share their lives with each other. Pete being new to the whole sister thing seemed to have his heart bursting with joy. Pete fondly referred to them as “the sisters” which was adorable. Everyone else fit comfortably into the living room and kitchen. There really was a perfect balance. At least, from my perspective.
Probably the biggest last minute push to get the house ready was our Shed. We had the entire exterior of the house painted and had the roof, brick and shed power washed previously. The shed definitely was shabby. And it has so much potential! Bill, from Virginia Painting CO, made an extra effort to squeeze in the shed for us. I really don’t think the pictures do it justice!
We replaced the door and added exterior lights in addition to wood siding repair and all the painting.
My mom had identified the windows each of the shutters belonged to and hung them when she was here last. Essentially rescuing the shutters, the previous owners had left them abandoned on a pallet behind the shed. Did I mention my mom also arrived on Friday, I love having her here! We still plan to add flower window boxes, in ground gardens around the front and side. The door will be painted red. I can’t wait to have flowers blooming all around. Plus, we will install a fence that will enclose behind the shed as if it were it’s own backyard. The chicken coop is on the right side that looks like an add-on of the shed. The fence will allow the chickens yard time that is safer from predators when I can’t be there for them to free range the entire yard. I do realize the hawks will still pose a problem even when I am there. My youngest daughter, Hanna, said I have a chicken problem. I told her it was how I was coping from missing her.
What do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment. They are so cute. I’m going to put together a new brooder in the big watermelon box I got from Sam’s Club tonight so they have enough space. They currently are in the largest storage box I could find. The new bigger brooder will require them to move from the living room to the mud room. I’ll miss hearing all the chirping. They are about five weeks from heading outside to their forever home. The previous owners also had chickens in this space. We are upgrading the inside of the coop so it is everything a happy chicken needs. Very exciting!
My brother and his family were here last week. I want to tell you about that but it will have to wait until next time.
I’m going to go knit on my Find your Fade. I’m on the sixth color and really want to get this finished. I, of course, managed to get another terrible cold. All the extra germs from guests I suppose. Autoimmune Diseases suck! At least I wasn’t sick with my niece and nephew here.