A Montreal woman who spent more than 40 years searching for her father flew to Kelowna to be reunited with him on Saturday.
As she waited outside the hospital, Sandra Tirone said she couldn’t believe it was happening.
“I’ve been looking for him all my life.”
“It’s a miracle for him. It’s a miracle for me. It’s overwhelming,” she said
“To find my father after all these years — I never thought I would find him.”
Sandra’s father, George Tirone, separated from her mother when she was just a toddler. He fell out of touch as he moved around the country.
Forty-four years later, as he waited for her to arrive, his biggest fear was that he would disappoint her.
“But I’m excited to see my daughter,” he said. “I haven’t seen her since she was a baby.”
Approximately 12 years ago, Sandra said she hired a private investigator to try to find her dad.
She was given a phone number, but when she called, Sandra said a woman told her George didn’t have any daughters.
“I thought my father didn’t want to see me,” she said.
Then, after taking a genetic DNA test and tracing her family tree through the online ancestry website MyHeritage, Sandra connected with a relative on her dad’s side.
“But I still thought my father wasn’t looking for me, and I had kind of made my peace with that,” she explained.
Sandra continued to help the relative find her family, and the pieces started to fall together in her own family tree.
WATCH: Family reunited through DNA testing
“I found out my grandmother was Russian,” Sandra said. “I would have never imagined that.”
Her search finally led her to closer relatives.
“It’s unbelievable. The first time I spoke to my aunt on the phone, I felt like I had known her forever,” Sandra said. “She speaks like me, with the same intonation.”
Sandra’s aunt told her that George had been searching for her for many years and that he was in Kelowna’s hospital but not doing well.
He is suffering from congestive heart failure, oedema, diabetes and several other conditions, Sandra said.
“The fact that he has so many different issues, it’s like his body is shutting down,” Sandra said.
“But I’m still hoping for a miracle here so he could have time with his grandkids, time with me,” she added.
READ MORE: Man uses DNA test to find relatives
It was an emotional reunion when Sandra was finally able to hug her father after years of estrangement.
George also met his grandchildren for the first time.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d have grandchildren,” he said, wiping away tears.
Sandra said meeting her dad and watching her kids hug him was a dream come true.
“I think to know where you come from, there’s no price for that,” she said.