MOLINE -- It was a hazy, lazy early July Friday and Brooklyn's Carrie Germundsen was chilling, chatting-up a longtime pal in New York's Central Park.
Sometime in during the conversation, Germundsen butt-dialed Stephanie Kreykes, daughter of Robert "Bob'' Sikma, of Bettendorf.
Thanks to a DNA-based ancestry site's testing and more than a year of painstaking research, a determined Kreykes — days earlier — had called Germundsen and left a voicemail. The call meant Germundsen had Kreykes's number in her phone bank.
"I explained I was not a creeper and I wanted only to share I believed my dad was her brother,'' Kreykes said. "I did not hear back. And that was OK.''
Then, by accident that July Friday, in Central Park of all places, Germundsen — she of a light-up-the-room personality — returned Kreykes' call.
"I began to talk and to explain,'' Kreykes said. "I explained everything and Carrie — thank goodness — just set the phone aside and let me go while she was sharing time with a friend.''
When Kreykes finished, a man sitting nearby who heard the conversation via Germundsen's phone, turned to her and her friend and said:
"Everything added up,'' said Germundsen, who with sister Linda Germundsen, spent the past weekend in the Quad-Cities, meeting Sikma, the brother they had not known they had, Kreykes, her family and Rock Island's Sandy Reid, a longtime friend to Sikma.
It was a family reunion of the most unique kind.
"Can you believe it?'' Sikma said. "Amazing. Amazing to find I had other family and amazing to get to meet Linda and Carrie. It goes to show the determination Stephanie has. She made it her mission to see where I came from and if I had other family. And I just met two amazing women.''
Sikma's journey began in November of 1955, in Terre Haute Ind., where Betty Jane Meyers would give her newborn son up for adoption.
Henry and Anne Sikma, of Dyer, Ind., would raise him - and 11 other children - on the family farm. Bob Sikma would become a prep basketball star and play college hoops at the University of Florida. He would settle in the Quad-Cities and work for a pair of trucking companies, a career spanning nearly four decades. Sikma has been an executive with Moline's Warren Transfer for over 25 years.
Along his path, he would wonder aloud to his daughter, Stephanie, about his birth mother and whether she had other children.
Now, because of Kreykes's dogged determination, Linda and Carrie Germundsen — and other siblings Jeff and Nancy — have a 64-year-old addition to the family.
"I was surprised and caught off-guard when I heard,'' said Linda Germundsen, now of Minneapolis, Minn., over Saturday lunch at Moline's Riverhouse. "It took awhile for me to process all that was going on. It was great news mind you, but something that still needed to be processed.''
The biggest shock of learning Sikma was their brother, was that her mom, Betty Germundsen, took the secret of a son born out of wedlock to her grave.
"My mom and I were close,'' Linda Germundsen said. "We shared everything and if there was secret I would have known about it. But she never shared she had a son and gave him up; she took that to the grave. My father never knew, either. There are a lot of stories of the 1950s that are kept secret, it was the way of that era.''
For Sikma, he wants the world — save for one person — to know he found a second family. His mother, Anne, age 95, does not know his discovery and of the reunion that took place the past weekend.
"My mother, a great woman, has lived a hard life,'' Sikma said. "There were struggles, but she made a home for so many of us. Whenever talk of finding my birth mother would come up, she would always say: 'But you are my son. You are my son.' It's best we keep this to ourselves.''
Grateful to know he has a new family to call on — and he will — Sikma says his life has been a good one. He is fortunate on many fronts.
"It was hard to be a single parent in the 1950s and I get that,'' he said of being given up for adoption. "I've had a good life. If not for this path I never would have met (the late) Duncan and Sandy Reid. They treated me like family when I got to the Quad-Cities and loved me like their own. I was in a terrible car accident eight yeas ago and I spent two months at Duncan and Sandy's house after getting out the hospital. I have been loved. I'm one lucky guy.''
A lucky man who if not for his daughter, never would have met the family he did not know he had.
"Once we started looking to find his birth mother there was no turning back,'' Kreykes said with a warm smile, excited that she could facilitate such a unique reunion for father. "My dad deserved some answers. He is a good man with an amazing heart. The excitement in his voice when he learned Linda and Carrie were coming and the look on his face when they met, made it worth it. ''
And the future?
"The family has experienced some growth,'' Carrie Germundsen said. "Holidays will be better and now we have another brother to share things with and he with us. This has been a wonderful experience.''