A Catalog of Events
June 1994

“A Catalog of Events,” Ensign, June 1994, 68

A Catalog of Events

When I answered the phone, a man’s voice on the other end of the line asked my name and told me his, saying that a mail order catalog with my name on it had arrived in his mail. He asked if I had ordered the catalog or if I wanted it. I told him I didn’t and that I had no idea why my name was on it. We would have hung up then if the caller hadn’t said something else.

He informed me that his wife’s maiden name had been the same as my married name. Suddenly, I became interested. My husband and I had been working on the ancestral line for his side of the family for more than fifteen years. My ears perked up and my eyes were wide open, and I’m sure the caller could hear my voice become increasingly animated.

As we discovered that his wife was a cousin my husband barely remembered, I heard myself say, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Can you come over?” Sounding enthusiastic, he said he would let me know soon. When I spoke to my husband, Marlyn, later that day, I told him of the call and of his cousin.

I began to see another important family link. Members of the caller’s wife’s family had apparently been separated long ago. We remembered attending a family reunion the summer before and meeting twins—a boy and a girl—who had been trying to locate their mother and some older sisters and brothers. Now pieces of the puzzle began to fall together for me.

I had heard a story of the twins’ family. Their parents were facing problems and were unable to provide for their children’s needs. Some of the children were given up for adoption, among them the twins we had met at the reunion. They had never known their previous family. Now teenagers, they had come to the reunion in hopes of being able to find their family.

Since we hadn’t lived near relatives for many years, we were even more enthusiastic than usual as Thanksgiving Day arrived, and as our newly found relatives, Dave and Cindy, came to the door. We visited about the catalog in the mail and agreed that since we couldn’t figure out how the mail mix-up had happened, it was clear that we were supposed to meet—“Someone wanted us to find each other.”

Cindy had been in first grade when her family had been split up and was now a 23-year-old mother, expecting her second child. Cindy remembered that she and the other two older children had gone to live with grandparents, but it was decided that twin toddlers would be too much for them.

Once Marlyn realized how Cindy missed the twins, he could hardly wait to tell her that he had seen them at the reunion. Her response was a volley of questions about them. She wanted to know where they lived, what they looked like, and everything else she could think of.

Within minutes Marlyn had found the phone number, dialed it, and reminded the twin who answered that he’d met her at the reunion. Then he said, “How would you like to talk to your big sister? Yes, your big sister, Cindy!” Pause. “She’s sitting right here in our living room.” Cindy squirmed in her seat, hardly able to stand it. I was on the verge of tears.

Cindy took the receiver and spoke with Tammy and Terry at a pitch near disbelief. “Yes, I am really your sister. We have the same dad.” A visit was arranged. “Tonight?” Cindy continued. “Well, we could be there in about an hour and a half.”

As the young family happily left our home, we were overjoyed to be part of such an unlikely reunion. We learned later that the gathering that night at their grandmother’s home included all five children. All of this happened because someone got the wrong mail. Or did they? In my mind, there was no mistake. A family that had been separated had been brought together.

  • Janet Kruckenberg, a member of the Wahpeton Branch, Fargo North Dakota Stake, serves as regional director of public affairs.

Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson