It’s not every day long-lost siblings get to reconnect and one of them get an immediate foot-bath, but that is exactly what happened at Sweet Dreams Esthetics last Thursday.
Daunne Hall, owner of Sweet Dreams, was the recipient of the welcome surprise, when her half-sister, Brenda Combs decided to come to the Bulkley Valley.
“It’s really great to finally get to see her,” Hall said.
“I’m still in shock a bit.
“We’d been searching for them all our lives.
Them refers to Comb’s full-brother Darryl who lives in Edmonton.
The Combs’ and Hall’s, Daunne is the youngest of four, share the same father, Joseph Frederick Johnston, who passed away in 2009.
Johnston was forced to give up Brenda and Darryl after the untimely death of the Combs’ mother.
He was 21-years-old and felt unable to care for a toddler and five-month-old Brenda.
“I had been looking for my father since I was 15,” Brenda, now 57, said.
“But with a name like Joe Johnston you can imagine how difficult that was.”
Compounding the challenge was the fact that her father went by his middle name, Fred.
Another reason for the inability for either side to locate the other was the Ministry of Children and Families had lost all record of both biological parents, Brenda said.
“Plus, my brother and I weren’t legally adopted until we were in our teens,” she said.
Brenda, having exhausted most options, turned to Ancestry.com, which led to an end to the search.
“This woman wrote me in 2007, but I didn’t see that message until last year and she asked if I had found who I was looking for,” Brenda said.
“I only knew a few things about him and sent that info back to her.”
A phone number for a man named Joseph Frederick Johnston came back and Brenda took the chance and called last November.
Brenda left her number with the Alpine trailer park manager and hoped for a return call.
“I wouldn’t let the lady go before giving her my information,” Brenda said and she didn’t have to wait long.
“About 20 minutes later I got the call I had been waiting for all my life.”
Unfortunately for Brenda her father had passed away, but it was then she learned of her siblings.
Johnston, who was a mechanic at OK Tire, never hid the fact that he had other children and gave them up for adoption.
“We knew we had a brother and sister out there, but could never find them,” Daunne said.
During one of the first phone conversations between Brenda and Daunne was when it finally clicked that the right connection had been made.
“I was kind of skeptical until she asked me if I had a brother named Darryl,” Brenda said.
“Then she told me that Fred had packed a picture of him in his wallet.”
The picture was one of father and son in a photo booth, Brenda said.
“She sent it to my phone and I almost cried,” she said.
Brenda, who is a nurse, decided she couldn’t wait any longer to see her sister, so she planned an Easter getaway.
After finding out what Daunne did, Brenda booked a pedicure appointment under a false name.
To facilitate the surprise Daunne’s daughter and husband, Bruce, helped out where they could.
They booked the appointment, Bruce picked Brenda up from the airport and both kept the secret.
“I’ve had a lot of twists and turns,” Brenda said.
“But this is a very needed chapter in my life and I’m so happy.
“This is a nice ending to a long story.”