What was lost when they were apart, is found in their reunion –
By Patricia Beech –
Siblings can become separated for all kinds of reasons, but some rediscover each other, sometimes after many years have passed.
Such was the case for 63-year old James “Jimmy” Sandlin, a graduate of Manchester High School, and his half-sister Sharon Sandlin Thomason. The brother and sister – who share a common father, but separate mothers – had their first meeting on Sunday, June 9 at Thomason’s home in Sweet Water, Tenn.
“I always knew that Sharon existed,” said Sandlin. “I knew my Dad had a daughter and another son, Steve, who passed at age 23, so over all the years I thought it would be great to reconnect with her.”
Thomason, on the other hand, didn’t know she had a half-brother until she was 23-years old.
“I didn’t know his name or where he lived,” she said. “But I knew I wanted to find him.”
They might have met when their father Herbert Jesse Sandlin died in 1987, but Jimmy, who was in the Navy, was living in Scotland at the time and couldn’t make it home.
After their father’s death, Sharon says she began searching in earnest for her long-lost brother, but was unable to find him.
Another thirty years would pass before the two made a connection through Ancestry.com.
“We let it go for a few years and then three years ago my wife Susan, put up a message on Ancestry.com for Sharon. We didn’t hear anything for a long while.”
On New Years Eve 2016, Thomason decided to look once again for information about her brother on Ancestry.com: “A message popped up, ‘Hi, I’m Susan Sandlin, and I’m married to James Sandlin’.”
“I was skeptical,” Thomason says, “But within an hour, I received a call from my brother who I’d never met.
Both say they had a lot of mixed emotions about meeting for the first time.
“When he walked up the steps of my home it was very emotional,” Thomason said. “We hugged and I felt an awesome connection with him.”
Sandlin agrees. “I felt all those same emotions. I wondered what it would be like to meet her,” he said. “We had searched for so long that I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. I was just so happy to see her and be there and we’ve vowed that we’re never going to be separated again.”
“I now have a brother that I will have forever,” says Thomason. “Going forward, this is going to be a great relationship. It’s exciting that I get to have a relationship with a brother I didn’t even know I had.”