A man who achieved his late father’s “life goal” of finding his long-lost family discovered that his cousin was unknowingly tending to his father in the hospital and living down the street.
Ian Harrison, 66, a business coach born in Portsmouth and now living in Alberta, Canada, wishes his father, Peter, was still alive to meet the long-lost family he’s searched for for 50 years.
Peter has been told that his father died during World War II, but at the age of 15 he discovered that he was alive, but that his mother had lied to him to cover up her affair with a married man.
Peter spent years searching for his family with the help of his son Ian, who continued the search after his father died in 2003, and after an Ancestry DNA test in 2021 found a cousin.
Ian is still in touch with his new relatives, and he says he ‘couldn’t have wished for a nicer family’, but he can’t help but be upset when he thinks his dad didn’t have the same fun.
Ian Harrison, 66, a business coach born in Portsmouth and now living in Alberta, Canada, wishes his father, Peter, was still alive to meet the long-lost family he’s searched for for 50 years. Pictured: Ian (right) with his cousins Les (left), Lynda (back left) and Glynis (back right)
Ian’s father, Peter (pictured), was told that his father, Percy, had died in World War II but was still alive
Ian discovered Lynda (left) caring for his father in hospital as he was dying of cancer, unaware she was his niece
Ian thinks that after meeting his father’s two brothers they ‘would have been best friends’ and finds it ‘heartbreaking’ that all three of them never met.
“I wish my dad was still around to meet these wonderful people – I still can’t believe they were so close all along,” said Ian.
Recalling how his father first found out the truth about his father, Ian explained, “His mother asked him to get something from her bedroom, and he found his birth certificate, which didn’t have a father’s name on it.”
“But he found a document showing an agreement to pay two shillings and sixpence a week as child support.
Ian says his cousin Les (left) could be his father’s twin because they look so alike and have the same mannerisms
Ian (pictured) was devastated when his father’s search for his family was cut short after he died of brain cancer and a stroke
Ian first met several of his cousins in 2021 and says they got along ‘like a house on fire’. Pictured: Ian with his cousin Glynis
“He was very upset about the whole thing.”
Ian explained why Percy’s identity was kept secret, saying, “My father was the product of an affair between a married man and my grandmother.”
When this was revealed to Ian’s father, he was determined to find Percy and discover as much as he could about his father’s side of the family.
Peter searched for decades and found nothing, but when Ian was told about the mystery surrounding Percy, he too became determined to find out more.
Ian and his father bought census CDs and discovered that Peter’s father, Percy, had died.
Unfortunately, their search was cut short after Ian’s father passed away in January 2003 at St. Christopher’s Hospital at the age of 67 from a stroke and brain cancer.
But Ian continued the search and after an Ancestry DNA test in 2021, he found a cousin.
After several months of emailing back and forth, it turned out to Ian’s horror that his nephew, Peter’s niece, was a nurse’s assistant at the same hospital where Ian’s father was, and she was tending to him in his final days.
He said, “Dad died while being cared for by one of the people he had searched for all his life.
“Lynda knew about my father, nor did she know that the person she was caring for was in fact her long-lost uncle. It was just unbelievable.’
Finally, in May 2022, Ian, his wife Christine, 69, and his mother met in a pub with Ian’s cousins.
Ian said: ‘We got along like a house on fire, and it was honestly the most amazing experience.
“I was so nervous, to begin with.
“My mom cried because my cousin reminded her so much of my dad at that age — they really looked like twins and had the same mannerisms.
“In fact, my uncle and my father were both royal electromechanical engineers.”
After meeting, Ian discovered that Lynda lived around the corner from his mother.
He said, “They probably would have bumped into each other while shopping. It’s just crazy.’
They’ve kept in touch ever since, with Ian explaining: ‘They’ve been the most wonderful family to me. I honestly couldn’t have met a nicer family.
And they’ve been so welcoming.
“We exchanged stories and everything.”
Ian explained how it felt to finally see his father’s dream of finding his family come true, saying, ‘It’s made my life complete – closure, fulfillment.
‘We now know our origins. We have a greater bond with our extended family.”
Despite the revelation, Ian couldn’t help but feel sad that his father had never met his family, or found out that Lynda was a relative.
He said, “Every time we meet, or just chatting about things, we always say it’s so sad that the three brothers never met.
“I mean, I’m sure they would have been best friends. listen to the stories I’ve heard about Uncle Jack and Uncle Donald. It’s really heartbreaking.’
Ian would recommend Ancestry to anyone and say, “Without this I could never have found my father’s family and achieved his life’s purpose.”