An Unexpected Family Reunion

I love stories of wild coincidences—and this story, written by Adam Hunter in a Guideposts e-letter, is about as wild as they get! Billion-to-one odds doesn’t do this reunion justice.

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Long-lost brothers Rick Hill and Joe Parker

In the tropical paradise of Hawaii, a family vacation and a surfing lesson led to an astonishing meeting between two men who shared a common bond…

Waikiki Beach wasn’t on their vacation itinerary, but Rick Hill, his fiancée, Maureen, and their three children—in Hawaii for a sunny week away from their Lunenburg, Massachusetts, home—decided to make a quick stop.

Joe Parker, who grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts, but moved to Hawaii years ago to escape a troubled past, wasn’t supposed to be on the beach that day, either. He was an event planner for a resort and was arranging a last-minute surfing lesson for a client.

Maureen was about to take a photo of Rick and the kids when Joe happened by. He kindly offered to take a picture of the entire family.

As Joe lined up the shot, he listened to the family speak to one another. Joe was certain he recognized their accent—a distinctive derivative of the Bostonian “pah-ked the cah in Hah-vahd yahd” drawl spoken in his old neighborhood.

Instead of saying, “Say cheese,” Joe smiled and said, “Say Leominster!”

Leominster was the next town over from Lunenburg. The family and Joe got to talking. A few names were thrown around. “You know a Dickie Halligan?” Joe asked.

“Know him? That’s my father!” Rick said.

Joe lowered his sunglasses and squinted at Rick, stunned. “He’s my father too.”

According to The Globe, Joe had grown up in foster care and had a painful childhood, running away from home at age 15. He had been told as a child that Dickie Halligan was his uncle. He only discovered the truth when he was 21, after responding to an ad Dickie had placed in the local paper searching for him.

Dickie revealed then that Joe had a half-brother. But Joe and Rick never met.

Until now, on a Hawaiian beach, 6,000 miles away from where they grew up.

Joe and Rick spent the rest of the week together. Joe turned 38 on Easter Sunday and celebrated with his long-lost family.

“We lost 38 years of each other, which is a shame,” Joe told The Globe. “But we are both grateful that this happened and that we get this chance in life to bond.”

Click here to read a article that offers more details about the reunion.

Click here to view all the Guideposts stories on this blog.


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2 Responses to “An Unexpected Family Reunion”

  1. buyfixrent Says:

    Obviously, meant to be! A great start to my day, Phil … thanks for sharing!

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    My pleasure, buyfixrent!

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