Many families have a story about finding long lost relatives. Frequently, this involves a lot of genealogy research that has revealed a connection to an ancestor that the genealogist was previously unaware of. Sometimes, it means that you received a letter from a stranger in a far away country who asks you the burning question: “Are we related to each other?” Meeting your long lost relatives might involve a trip to a foreign country, or knowledge of a second language. That isn't how it went for me. I found my long lost cousin at school.
I come from a small midwestern town, where everybody knew just about everybody else. I went to elementary school with almost the exact same group of kids each year. Sometimes someone new would move into town, or someone would move out, but the basic core group remained. Each new school year meant I would have a different teacher, and a slightly different combination of classmates than the ones who were in my classroom the year before. It wasn't a large school, and everybody knew everybody else by name.
One day after school, my grandmother came to pick me up. She got into a conversation with a woman who was the mother of one of the girls in my fourth grade class. I remember heading to the on campus playground, where I could run around and climb things as I waited for the adults to finish talking. When they were ready, I headed back over to my grandmother. She pointed to the daughter of the woman she was just talking to, and informed me, “That's your cousin.”
How could this be true? By chance, my friend's mother mentioned that she had an ancestor named “Fritz” who died when he was a child. My grandmother had a son by that same name who died when he was only twelve years old. The two of them talked, and found more connections between our two families. Yes, we were related! I remember that my newly found cousin and I were the big news at school for quite some time after we discovered that we were related to each other.