Running a hand through my mum's golden locks, I fought the urge to cry.
"Why don't I look like you, Mummy?" I asked, my lip trembling.
"We do look alike, sweetheart," she insisted.
I was only four, but couldn't believe her.
My dark chestnut hair and deep brown eyes were in stark contrast to my mum, dad and younger brother, who all had blonde hair and pale blue eyes.
But it wasn't just my appearance that was different.
I was loud and confident, while they were all shy and reserved.
"Are you really my mum?" I joked in my teens.
"Don't be silly," Mum said.
I'd looked at my baby photos and knew she was the woman who'd given birth to me.
Even as an adult, I still felt like a black sheep in comparison to my family.
My outgoing nature saw me leave my home in Germany behind when I was 31.
As a single mum of two kids, Sally, 11 and Max, two, I wanted my children to have a better chance at life.
So we flew to New Zealand and settled there.
I made plenty of friends and adjusted to living on the other side of the world in no time.
One day, my good mate Hanz came over for coffee.
He'd just been through a divorce and visited a psychic named Sue, seeking direction.
"Steffi, you have to go see her," he urged. "She's so accurate."
I'd always been a big believer in psychics, so I booked an appointment and went along.
As I stepped into the dimly lit den, I was startled to hear a woman's voice talking from out of the darkness.
"You're here to learn about your father, aren't you?" she asked.
What was she talking about?!
Dad was happy and healthy.
There was nothing for me to worry about… or was there?
Sitting down, I leant forward with baited breath while she continued talking.
"I see a man in white holding medals," she began.
I racked my brain for someone fitting that description, but no one came to mind.
"This man is your real father," Sue finished.
I was speech-less.
How did a complete stranger know this? And could she be right? After all, I was the black sheep…
"I see something else," Sue continued, "but I'm not sure you'll want to hear it."
Goosebumps spread over my flesh.
"You have a half-brother. He lives in Germany," she said.
My whole world spun.
Half an hour ago, I thought I knew my family history.
Now, this psychic had made me question every-thing.
Perhaps all my childhood doubts had existed for a reason.
I had to know.
Plucking up all my courage, I phoned Mum.
"I know about my real dad," I stammered, getting the words out before I lost my nerve.
"And… I know I have a half-brother, too."
Then, I heard soft sobbing.
"Oh Steffi, I'm so sorry," she sniffed. "I never wanted you to find out."
The psychic was right!
"Your dad was gorgeous," Mum sighed. "His beautiful brown eyes lured me in."
I gripped the phone tight, hanging on Mum's every word.
I learned that she'd met a handsome man named Gerwalt who was in the marines.
They'd had a fleeting romance.
She didn't have any photos of him, but now I knew why Sue had seen a man in uniform… it was my dad in the marines.
"He never even knew I was pregnant," Mum said. "By that time, he was gone. I couldn't track him down."
There was a tinge of sadness in her voice.
I wanted to cry, too.
But then an idea came to me.
"I'm going to find him," I said.
Mum had met Gerwalt's family before and thought we might be able to locate him.
After some research, she found a phone number for his ex-wife.
My heart raced as I called Germany.
When Dad's ex-wife answered, I explained the situation to her as calmly as possible.
"I'm sorry," she said, "this is not the right time. Goodbye."
My heart shattered.
But I hadn't come this close only to fall at the final hurdle.
After a few more attempts, I convinced her to speak to me.
"Your dad is dead," she said.
"What?" I cried.
It was like a knife had been driven into me.
"He killed himself just days before his 50th birthday."
As my tears flowed, I tried to compose myself.
Dad might be gone, but I still had a brother to find…
I eventually managed to convince her to pass on my brother Guido's email address.
I poured my soul out to him, telling him about my journey.
Two days later, a reply came.
"It's him!" I screamed hysterically to my kids.
Steadying myself, I began to read the words:
Hello my sister… I was absolutely shocked when I found out about you, but I'm very happy that you exist. I'll write to you more later when I find my words. Lots of love from the other side of the world, Guido xxx.
It was like I'd been wrapped in a hug.
Later that week, we chatted on Skype. It was like looking at a male version of myself.
"Hi, Sis!" he beamed.
We hit it off so well that Guido bought a ticket to New Zealand to meet me.
I stood at the airport with a large sign reading: UNITED AFTER A 50 YEAR MYSTERY.
Throwing our arms around each other, we screamed and cried with excitement.
For seven weeks, we travelled around the country and talked about Dad.
"Oh Steffi, you're every bit as outgoing as he was," Guido said.
He brought some photos of him and I marvelled at how handsome and happy he'd seemed.
It was hard to believe he'd taken his own life.
I wish I'd had the chance to meet him, but I'm so happy Guido and I found each other.
I'm sure Dad would be too.
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Now To LoveDec 05, 2019