Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

A long time gone

Resident reunited with her brother after 42 years

August 23, 2001

Not having seen her brother in 42 years, Trish Akey-Smith said she still would have recognized him walking down the street.

"He looks a lot like our dad," Akey-Smith said of the man she reunited with last month. The two lost contact after Akey-Smith, whom Eudorans may see working at the Kwik Shop, married a Marine and started moving from base to base.

Although their mother and stepfather knew where each sibling lived, they refused to tell the other.

"We never have figured that out," Akey-Smith said.

When the time came in 1999 to place their mother in a nursing home, Akey-Smith received a letter from a lawyer with addresses of all involved in the decision. The piece of paper provided information that allowed Akey-Smith to contact her her long- lost sibling.

She sent her brother and sister-in-law a Christmas card. Although this was their first contact in over four decades, Akey-Smith was hesitant to say too much or try to play catch-up.

"It was very short because I had been told that he didn't want anything to do with the family," she said.

Her brother, Allan Ferkut, and his wife, Jean, replied.

"I got a letter back that said I'd better not lose touch again," Akey Smith said.

She and her husband, Ron Smith, visited the Ferkuts in Dundee, Ill., a Chicago suburb, in July to celebrate Jean Ferkut and Akey-Smith's birthdays and the Ferkuts' wedding anniversary.

"I was all hyped up on the way there," Akey-Smith said. "Halfway there I didn't want to go up. I'm glad I did, though."

Later, Allan Ferkut admitted to Akey-Smith that he thought about calling and telling her not to come.

Nonetheless, the families connected, although Akey-Smith said she spent more time getting to know her sister-in-law while her husband befriended her brother.

The siblings fax each other almost every other day and speak on the phone once a week. Akey-Smith carries pictures of the reunion with her in her planner.

In October, Akey-Smith and her husband will visit the Ferkuts again, this time to celebrate their anniversary, which just happens to be her brother's birthday, Oct. 13.

Despite living several states away from her brother and more than a1,000 miles away from her Massachusetts origins, Akey-Smith doesn't regret having lived in Eudora since 1979 although she misses the fall foliage.

"I don't have anything in common with the people back there," she said. "The people are a lot friendlier here than back home."

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