It’s not often that watching television leads to discovering family members you never knew existed — that’s more the realm of DNA tests — but for brothers Randy and Ed Waites, both from California, television is exactly what brought them together.
“I wasn’t looking for him and he wasn’t looking for me,” Randy Waites, 55, told People. “We just didn’t even know either one of us existed, so the way that we found each other is just unbelievable to me.”
It all began because Ed Waites, 54, was in Lake Tahoe with his family for Christmas last year. They were out one day, enjoying the snow, throwing snowballs, when a news crew with KCRA-TV spotted them and asked if Ed would talk a minute for their weather segment.
Randy happened to be watching the resulting report and was immediately struck by two things. First, he thought Ed looked a lot like him. Second, he noticed Ed had the same last name, spelled the same way, which was a rarity.
It was Randy’s daughter who did the online sleuthing and ultimately discovered that Randy and the man he’d spotted on television were half-brothers and had the same dad, Donald E. Waites, who passed in 2009.
“I saw [Eddie’s] features and he actually looked a lot like my dad in the eyes,” Randy’s daughter Cambria told KCRA-TV. “I did my research, searched up his name, looked up all I could.”
Sadly, Randy had never met his dad, as Donald left shortly after the birth of his son. He met another woman, who gave birth to Ed around a year later. The boys grew up only 30 miles apart and had no idea the other existed.
Despite never having met Donald, Randy has a lot of the same interests as he did, including riding Harleys and going fishing — and, as he soon found out, Ed has the same interests.
Their friendship began with a phone call.
“We clicked, like we’ve been friends for 20 years,” Randy said. “It’s just unbelievable.”
“It was an instantaneous chill all the way from my head all the way down to my toes,” Ed said. “At first I thought, it’s not possible. And once I seen a picture of him, I seen my dad. I seen our dad. I knew it was real.”
The two brothers finally met on Feb. 5, and their bond has only grown since then.
Randy Waites of Lodi never expected to find a new family member by watching the local news. Today, he connected with a brother he never knew he had after spotting a familiar last name on @kcranews. It was an honor to be there to capture this special moment. pic.twitter.com/4QTdic8N6q
— Stephanie Lin (@StephanieLinTV) February 6, 2022
“You know what, this is almost an out-of-body experience,” Ed said. “The whole thing is, is surreal. To have not only a brother, but, but a family that I, I never even knew existed is just, it’s beyond words … It’s just unbelievable.”
There is some sadness between the two over past circumstances out of their control. Ed feels some guilt at having gotten the father Randy never had, but the two are focusing on what they have now: each other.
“He doesn’t need to apologize for our father,” Randy said. “I’m a victim of circumstances. Who knows what was going on between his mom, my mom, and our father?”
“I’m a good, hardworking man and a wonderful father to my children, and now I’ve got a fantastic new brother, so we’re just looking forward to moving forward and making new memories.”
“It’ll always be there, to apologize for what Randy lived without that I had,” Ed added. “I would’ve liked more than anything for him to share in our fishing trips together and the conversations we had, it just would’ve been that much better to have him there.
“So, I mean, we can’t change what’s happened, but all we can do as brothers now is to make up for that lost time. Hopefully, I’ve provided those pieces to his missing puzzle, things that he had in his life and things that were missing. And fortunately, I feel I’ve been able to do that.”
The two have lots of plans ahead, and are looking forward to making up for lost time.