Johnston said she could never get very far with her searches because she had been told that Brenda Lee’s name had been changed, but she didn’t know that for sure and she certainly didn’t know what her new name was.
Back in November, Richard continued to search online for Johnston.
“It gave us a lot of different addresses and phone numbers for her, but many of the phone numbers had been disconnected,” Woodard said. “One night Richard tried on the Internet again and came up with a different phone number.”
Richard dialed the phone number and handed the phone to Marsha as Johnston answered.
“I always hoped for this day to come. Both of us were speechless,” Johnston recalled. “It was a beautiful thing.”
The women exchanged e-mails and photos over the next month.
Woodard also mailed a scarf, some photos and a letter to Johnston. In the letter, she told Johnston she collected elephants.
“I collect elephants and like antiques, too,” Johnston marveled.
During Johnston’s four-day visit, the women shopped at Danville’s antiques stores and even purchased an antique elephant wind-up toy at Queen Ann’s Cottage.
For Woodard, finding her biological mother has brought her “closure,” she said.
“I’ve learned an awful lot in a short time, and I’ve asked her the most important questions,” Woodard said.
Johnston agreed. “We’ll learn more about each other, but being there for each other is the important thing.”
Woodard plans to visit Johnston in Oregon sometime this year, and Johnston said her two sons — Woodard’s younger half-brothers — Michael and James Finnell are “excited and can’t wait to meet her.”
“I never forgot her and I was hoping and praying I would find her someday,” Johnston said. “I told my boys when they were small that they had a sister and we would find her someday.