“Is this Dave Z who went to XX high school?”
This story starts with a question and an email. Well, technically it starts over 30 years ago ~ with a baby girl, a cowboy, a mom on the run and (finally) a medicated grandparent spilling some beans. But I don’t know if that part of the story is for me to tell. We’re going to start with the email.
When Sandy and Dave got the email quoted above, they kind of thought it was from a fellow graduate, maybe looking for alumni information or following up on a friend. “You know anyone named Renee?” Sandy asked Dave. Dave didn’t recall. They perused old yearbooks and as Sandy tells it, there was not ONE Renee in the school when Dave attended. Then more questions started. “Are you related to xxxx? Were you married to xxxx?” This was when Sandy turned to Dave and said, “I think we found Brandie.”
You see, Dave had a daughter, over 30 years ago. Due to circumstances, relationship issues or whatever you want to call this state of affairs, this baby girl grew up not knowing anything about her birth father. Dave, on the other hand, knew his daughter’s name was Brandie and he knew he wanted to find her. He spent years looking for her but kept hitting dead ends. Until the emails started. And kept coming. And they realized that yes indeed, after finding out the truth, Brandie’s partner Renee had tracked them down!
And that is just the beginning of the story. Because Dave did not have just one daughter. Not only did Brandie and Dave find each other, Brandie learned she had a whole new family including a sister named Kara. Plus a brother in law, a nephew, another niece or nephew on the way, and a few step brothers too. As I listened to the story unfold, I had goosebumps. The literal kind, with my hair standing up on my arm. When Sandy asked me to photograph their whole family during the sisters’ first visit, I was thrilled. For the first time, these two sisters were meeting, learning all about each other and seeing what they had in common. (Hint: so many things!)
It was a beautiful thing to see these two together.
And a beautiful thing to see how happy their dad was to have them together.
As the story ended, one thought stood out to me. No matter how many years had passed, this family found each other. As Sandy said, "Dave just always wanted a family." Well it took some time, but he sure did get a good one. Thank you for inviting me to photograph this amazing event, I can't think of any better reason to do what I do. Immortalizing this special family reunion with photos of these beautiful people made my summer. I hope you all have many more happy reunions in the years to come.