The internet is always full of surprises. As quick as you can press search, you can find long lost friends or relatives who may live on the other side of the country—or even the world. No matter how many times people hear these touching stories, it’s never quite the same as when it happens to you.
68-year-old Marion McDowell from Florida was on Facebook, when she noticed something that made her want to dig a little deeper. She saw that a man named Randall Vandivier from Ohio shared a mutual friend, and she decided to send him a friend request.
“The reason I did a friend request to Randall was because my grandfather and Randall’s uncle [Charles Vandivier] were good friends and Randall’s surname is Vandivier,” Marion told ABC News.
Marion’s curiosity about her family history led her to befriend a stranger on Facebook.
Marion, who was originally from Ohio, had always heard that she may have a brother, so some part of her probably hoped that Randall could connect some missing pieces.
When Randall posted a picture of his aunt, Mary Louise Vandivier, Marion’s curiosity was in full force. She felt a close connection with their families, and she wanted to know more.
After communicating further, the two decided to share more information.
“She sent a picture of her father, and I said, ‘Lord have mercy that’s my father!'” Randall said.
Their father Jesse McDowell Sr. was a WWII veteran and had passed away decades ago.
“We started exchanging information and pictures of my father and we were startled that this was the same person,” Marion said.
Marion introduced Randall to his brother and four sisters.
I am getting ready to aboard the Big Bird to be with my younger siblings that I have never seen before in Miami…
After waiting 70 years to find her long-lost brother, Marion rushed to tell her older brother Jesse McDowell and her sisters Sharon Kerry-Herlan and Angela Wooten-Whittaker the news.
They found out that their father had not married Randall’s mother, but had moved far away and married Marion’s mom. The separated family members were shocked, but also happy to finally be in contact with each other.
Marion, her brother Jesse, and her sister Sharon had already planned to visit their youngest sister Angela in Miami in January, so they decided to make it a family reunion. They invited Randall and his sister Carolyn Vandivier Sullivan to come along and meet them.
Randall said, “Everybody in that generation is dead you know, our father, her mother, my mother so it was just beautiful to have this. And if it weren’t for Facebook it would have never happened.”
Thanks to Facebook, the long-lost siblings have been reunited.
“From that day on everybody was just so excited so we wanted to make plans to meet up,” Randall said. “I’m already 70 years old. I wasn’t gonna take a chance and wait any longer. It’s just such a blessing that all six of us are alive, we are so fortunate.”
Randall shared his newfound family on Facebook, saying, “Thank God for Facebook this is the way we were able to connect up after being in this world for 70 years I cannot tell you how excited I am up, up and away.”
Five out of the six newly connected siblings were able to meet face to face, and they were overjoyed. Marion explained that the reunion was wonderful, but it was extra special for Randall and Jesse, because neither of them knew they had a brother.
“We are also very grateful that we all lived to share this moment. We want our families to absolutely have other occasions where we can spend a long time together, and we are very excited to continue sharing memories,” Marion said.