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Jim’s story: From strangers to siblings

Raised by a single mother in Iowa, I never knew my father. When I tried to track him down, I learned he’d passed away. I also learned something else—I had four sisters and two brothers I’d never met living back East.

So, 15 years ago, I traveled to meet these strangers, my siblings, in person. That short trip broke the ice. I learned that my father had wanted to have a relationship with me, but my mother (being protective) had put a stop to it.

There was so much more I wanted to know. We vowed to stay connected, but, we started getting too busy to schedule regular phone calls. We caught glimpses of each other’s lives on Facebook, but you can’t really communicate in a personal way on Facebook.

Then, last year, I downloaded the Marco Polo app and created a family group. I got most of my siblings to download it, too.

Next thing you know, we were sending Polos every day. And the amazing thing is that we could see each other. I showed them a walk-through of my house. They showed walk-throughs of their houses. We were introducing our kids and husbands and wives. They’d send me Polos of city traffic. I’d send them Polos of open cornfields.

That was just the beginning of what we would share.

When my sister Teresa unexpectedly lost her son, who was in the Navy, to an accident at sea, it was a tough time. Polos were a way for her talk through her grief, and a way for us to support her. Then, when she went back to where he was stationed, she sent us Polos of his apartment and his friends, and that was pretty neat. As terrible a tragedy as it was, it brought us all closer.

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When a 4-wheeler accident landed me in the hospital, I was able to send a Polo to let everyone know I was okay—and show off my scar.

And when my second grandson was born, I was able to share the emotional moment when the nurses passed newborn Carter to my son and daughter-in-law for his first cuddle. Tears were shed all around as we went back and forth with Polos, welcoming our newest family member to the world.

With Marco Polo, I’ve been able to share life’s ups and downs with siblings I would otherwise barely know. And that’s pretty powerful stuff.

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