A lot of us consider our families to be the most important thing in the world: they make us laugh, make us cry and support us through the hard times. However, the word family can mean very different things to different people.
When two young boys met in middle school, the friendship was immediate. They understood each other, comforted each other, and had fun with each other — they were practically family. But decades later, there was one mystery they each had to solve on their own…
It was the 1960s, and Walter MacFarlane and Alan Robinson were entering Punahou middle school in Honolulu, Hawaii. But luckily for Walt and Alan, whom everyone called “Robi,” the two quickly became friends for life.
The boys did everything together. They both played on their high school football team, enjoyed playing cribbage, and loved being outdoors. But common interests weren’t all that brought them together.
While Walter never knew his father, Robi never knew either of his biological parents because he had been adopted when he was just a baby. Naturally, because of this, the boys felt a connection on a deeper level.
Despite their age difference of nearly 15 months, the boys were absolutely inseparable. Of course, while they were close they each had other circles of friends, too. It was only natural that they would grow a little bit apart.
As time passed and the boys grew up, things continued to change. “He was the party-er. I never went to or did any partying in high school,” said Walter, who continued to seriously pursue athletics.
Robi was always a little less athletically inclined. When he stopped partying and settled down to clean up his act, he began attending aviation school and later became a pilot for Aloha airlines — not a bad job for someone with a lust for adventure!
Still, Walter and Robi remained friends, as they would always care deeply for each other, even if they were living completely different lives. It may seem hard to imagine, but they kept their friendship up for six whole decades!
As Walter aged and became a father, he loved and appreciated the friends and family he had, but he couldn’t help but be curious about the father he never met. So, for Walter’s birthday, his kids gave him a gift that could finally give him some answers…
His daughter, Cindy Macfarlane-Flores, gave him a DNA test. She and her siblings helped Walter take the DNA samples and sent them to the company where they would be matched with others. “So then we started digging into all the results he started getting,” said Cindy.
One of the top matches shared a lot of DNA with Walt and even had an identical X-chromosome. It turned out… Walt had a half-brother! It was then that he noticed the half-brother’s username and nearly fell out of his chair.
The mystery brother was registered under the username “Robi737.” Of course, it immediately reminded Walter of his childhood friend Alan, whose nickname was Robi, and who had become a pilot flying Boeing 737s.
Walter wanted to believe it, but he thought it was too good to be true. Could it really be that he and his childhood best friend were related? Or was it something bigger, like fate bringing them together?
You see, Robi had also turned to Ancestry in order to find his birth parents. “I had a younger brother that I lost when he was 19, so I never had nieces or nephews. I thought ‘I’ll never know my birth mother, will I ever get to meet anyone from my family?'”
When Walter suspected that Robi was indeed the match with the identical chromosome, he ran to the phone and called him up. When he asked if Robi was Robi 737, his suspicions were confirmed: they were half-brothers all along!
“It was a shock,” Walter said. It was an astounding realization that the friends shared the same birth mother, but everything finally fell into place. It made sense to them now why they looked so alike, why they had always felt a special bond…
Walter and Robi met up right after the shocking discovery but neither could believe it was really true. Yet, when they looked down at their arms side by side they knew it was true. “Yea it was a shock, definitely and then we thought about it and compared forearms,” Robi said. “Yea hairy arms, that did it!” Walter added.
After the initial shock wore off, the brothers couldn’t help but reminisce about their youth. “It was so funny because you know when we played for Punahou, we were both first string and we’re brothers, playing side by side,” Walter said. He’s the tackle, I’m the end, and we never knew, you know.”
“We’d go to Punaluu to go free-diving and fishing,” Robby said. “I’d be making noise in the water splashing around, and he’d be teaching me how to do it right. He’d always come out of the water with the biggest string of fish and I had the smallest.”
The discovery happened just before the holidays, so Walter and Robi gathered their families together to share the incredible news. “This is the best Christmas present I could ever imagine,” Robi said. “It really is a Christmas miracle, and we’re just so happy that we found each other,” Walter added.
The brothers were completely overwhelmed by the news and are still getting used to the fact that they now have each other as more than just friends. They have plans to spend their retirement traveling together and catching up for lost time, as friends, and as brothers.