17 August 2009

My lost Friend of 26 years and the Internet

I wrote about the "Dark Ages" and "Cyber Friends" last month and what life was like without computers and modern communication technology. I also mentioned that I found a lot of friends again over the last 5 years or so, people that I would've never been able to locate using conventional methods like phone books and letters.
But this is the story of my most amazing reunion:
Back in the early eighties when I lived in Berlin, I became friends with an American woman, her husband and her 2 young kids. I was going through a difficult patch in my life at the time, and my American friend was there for me, put me up in her house when I needed a place to stay and introduced me to real American hospitality. We got on great and I missed her a lot when she and her family moved back to the States in late 83 or early 84.
We were writing letters to each other, but at some stage, we stopped hearing from one another. She was going through a separation and was going to remarry.
A lot of years went by.
I'd moved to London, and then to Ireland and got my first computer with internet connection in 1998. I'd never forgotten about my friend and started looking for her on the internet. No luck. My problem was that I had no idea of her new surname. I wasn't even sure which state she lived in; I merely assumed it would be in the American South as she had lived there before she moved to Germany. I made a few tentative inquiries with American people I knew but I go nowhere.
Every few years, I would give it another go but I never had any success.
A couple of months ago, I decided to try once more. This time, I thought I'd try and find one of her kids who by now wouldn't be kids anymore. At first, I only found people search sites who wanted money for their services. But I wasn't going to give up this time, so I kept on looking.
And then I had a breakthrough even if it was a sad one:
I spotted an online death notice of a familiar name, the name of my friend's ex husband. Thinking that it could just be a coincidence, I kept reading. And then I saw a dedication to him by his daughter. There was no more room for doubt: I'd found the right family.
Getting in touch, however, wasn't that easy as the link to get in touch with the daughter via the memorial site didn't work. I was very frustrated but having come that far, I wasn't going to give up.
The memorial site provided me with the name of the town where the daughter lived, so I tried to locate her. Her name appeared on Google, but it was on one of HER friend's social networking pages. Following that up, I eventually got to my friend's daughter's social networking page, only to find that I couldn't check out her profile or send her an email as her details were private and only visible to friends.
So I very politely sent her a note, explaining briefly who I was and what led me to write to her.
The following day, I received a very nice reply - she even remembered me - and she told her mother immediately about our communication. Her mother, my friend, was delighted, but unfortunately, she isn't on the internet at present. But I did write her a letter and received a lovely letter back approximately 26 years after we last saw each other.
On receiving my friend's letter, I knew immediately that the long search had been worth it as I felt that there was still a close bond between us. We haven't chatted on the instant messenger as yet, but that should happen within the next couple of weeks. Pity the daughter doesn't use Skype as that would allow us to actually hear each other's voices. (Yes I know that's possible via some of the instant messengers too, but I don't think my friend's daughter uses a mic on the computer).
I'm still amazed that I managed to find my friend after such along time and am most grateful for the technology that has allowed this to happen.

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1 comment:

Dazediva said...

Stopping by to show some love :)

I'm so happy that you found your friend after so many years. There are few people out there who value friendships - and despite the years of separation, you kept trying - and that's what matters !

Do keep us posted if you talk to her on skype or on messenger :)