SPOKANE, Wash.—A father and daughter are back together for Christmas after 40 years apart.
Kenneth Kern found his daughter on Facebook in November. They met for the first time in decades just in time for Christmas. The last time Kern saw his daughter was when she was 8-years-old. That is until he saw her name pop up on Facebook.
"She'd say ‘Daddy are you ready to go home?’ She'd get on the wheel chair and ride around the hospital,” said Kern.
That was the last memory Kern had of his daughter in 1973 when she would visit him in the hospital after a serious motorcycle accident in Hayward, California.
The Navy sent Kern home to Spokane to get better. His daughter, Tina Valentine, had not heard from him since.
Valentine thought Kern had died from his injuries and was led to believe a different man was her father. It turned out Kern’s sister had kept them from communicating, according to Kern.
“There were so many times in the month where I wondered what happened, where she was,” said Kern.
Valentine’s family moved and Kern lost contact for 40 years until he saw her name pop up on Facebook in November as a mutual friend.
"I asked questions to make sure and after that there was nothing but happy tears,” said Valentine.
Since the contact in November, they have been messaging on Facebook and chatting on the phone. Valentine told Ken about her 40-year-old brother that is also Kern’s son and her four children.
The father and daughter reunited in Spokane in mid-December.
"I just, the biggest smile on my face and her face and hugged each other, like we weren't going to let go. It was just so wonderful,” said Valentine.
Valentine has lymphoma and said she needs her dad more than ever. Christmas 2013 is their first Christmas together. They said it will definitely not be their last.
"Could never ask for a better Christmas present than to find out you have two wonderful children,” said Kern.
Valentine currently lives in Modesto, California but is moving to Spokane in February to be closer to her father and continue her cancer treatment. She and her dad hope their story encourages others to find their loved ones too.
If you are interested in helping the family move or with medical bills you can email Kern at firstname.lastname@example.org