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The Phone Call That Changed Her Family

She gained a granddaughter when she received the life-changing call. 

An artist's rendering of two female silhouettes facing each other in front of an angelic figure

The ringing phone startled me awake. I glanced at the clock. Nine a.m. on the dot. Must be important. I picked up. “Hello?”

“I’m trying to reach Sally from the Pathway to Wisdom blog,” the woman on the other end said. She sounded young and anxious. My heart went out to her. I was a Christian life coach who specialized in helping other women. She must have been calling to set up an appointment.

I heard her take a deep breath. “My name is Courtney, and I don’t know how to say this, but I think you are my grandmother.”

I was so surprised, I almost dropped the phone. “What makes you think I’m your grandmother, Courtney?” I said.

“You see, I recently uploaded my DNA to a genealogy website, and the results showed that your daughter is my aunt, which would make you my grandmother.”

My daughter and I had uploaded our DNA to the site a few months earlier. They were having a two-for-one special, and we were curious to see how much of our Irish and English heritage would show up in our DNA. I never could have anticipated something like this.

“Do you have sons?” she asked.

“I do,” I replied, “three. My youngest, John, passed away several years ago, though.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

John, a diabetic, had been only 34 years old when he died of an aneurysm while awaiting a kidney transplant. I was going to be his donor.

Time hadn’t lessened the pain of losing him, and I often asked God for a dream, a beautiful bird singing at my window—something to make John more alive to me.

“I know that John died,” Courtney said. “Before I called you, I did some research online. I found John’s obituary, and when I saw his picture I felt an instant connection. All my life I had wondered who my father was. The moment I saw that photo, I knew I had found him,” she said. “Even if it was too late to get to know him.”

“And your mother confirmed this?” I asked.

“My mother has never wanted to talk about it. All she would say is that they were both very young. She never told my father about the pregnancy,” Courtney said. “He never found out about me.”

I felt tears pricking at my eyes. This young woman seemed to have found the father she’d always longed to know. No one could tell her more about John than I could. He felt as alive to me as ever, as I thought of a hundred stories I wanted to tell the daughter he never had a chance to meet. But maybe Courtney had gotten all she wanted from this phone call—confirmation that John was my son, her father.

Courtney’s voice tentatively filled the silence. “I was wondering…since we don’t live too far from each other, how would you feel about meeting me? And if it wouldn’t be too much, I know my kids would love to meet you too.”

I gasped. If Courtney had children, that meant I was a great-grandmother! “I would absolutely love that,” I told her. God had given me more than I could have ever asked for: someone who needed me to bring John to life for her. And I could watch his spirit grow in a family I could love for him.

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