When her plane landed in Whitehorse last month, Surrey’s Linda Evans spotted the group of people awaiting her arrival.
There, standing at a distance in the airport, were her new-found half-sister and two half-brothers – neither of whom she’d met face to face – as well as others she didn’t know.
Among them was Lucy, a woman Linda recognized from a photo she’d been sent. In recent weeks, the two had also been talking on the phone.
But it had been 52 years since she’d been in the same room, looked into her eyes or felt her touch.
Linda was only about seven years old when Lucy, her mother, disappeared from their Surrey home.
Instead of following the other passengers inside the airport, Evans entered through a different door, approaching the group from behind.
“I was so nervous,” she recalled. “My stomach was in a knot.”
When the group turned and saw her, they yelled “oh my God!” and ran to hug her.
It was all a bit overwhelming, but Evans is starting to get used to the bizarre turn her life has taken in recent months.
It all began in late June, when the Surrey RCMP issued a public appeal in a historic missing persons case. The case involved a woman named Lucy Ann Johnson, who lived in Surrey with her husband and two young kids until 1961. That’s when she vanished.
After the RCMP made their public plea, Evans also set out searching, eventually placing a classified ad and old photo of Lucy in a newspaper in the Yukon. Her mom was born in Alaska so she thought it was worth a shot.
The emails and phone calls soon began. Someone recognized the “missing” woman. She wasn’t missing at all, but was living in the north.
Through July and August, Evans, who is in her late 50s, got to know her mom and her new-found sister Rhonda Glenn. She also learned she had two more half-brothers.
She vowed to save her pennies and planned to fly north for a visit. In early September, however, she was on a flight, courtesy of Lucy, who footed the bill.
The week-long visit, Evans said, wasn’t nearly long enough, but answered many questions and provided her peace of mind.
Her mom, she said, claimed her marriage was a tumultuous one and when she told her husband she was leaving, he told her she couldn’t take the kids.
“My dad knew she left. I would’ve liked if he’d have said something,” Evans said.
Her father passed away in the late 1990s and her brother drowned in his teens.
During her visit, Lucy gave Evans a traditional First Nations button blanket – a gift intended for a mother’s eldest daughter.
The soft-spoken woman showed nothing but love and kindness, said Evans.
“She said she used to think of us, but didn’t know where to start. She said she put it in the back of her mind.”
Lucy, who is 77, hasn’t spoken publicly about her disappearance five decades ago, or her reunion with her daughter. She also didn’t want her photo published.
Glenn said she just wants Evans to get to know “mom” and welcomes her new sister to the family with open arms.
“If I’d have known, I would have looked her up a long time ago,” said Glenn. “I’ve always wanted a sister, so it’s a dream come true. We’re just glad to have her.”
Evans plans to return to the Yukon for another visit in December, and hopes to bring her teenage grandson. Lucy, she said, has many grandkids and great-grandchildren here who she’d like her to meet.
Evans’ tale of finding her mother after more than 50 years made headlines across the country and even overseas this summer. It’s all been very surreal, she said.
“It turned out, so I’m happy. It’s not all the time it works out so well.”