DENVER — After more than 70 years, two women living in different states found out they are sisters.
"I'm so excited. I can imagine what she's thinking," 73-year-old Linda Hoffman said as she waited at Denver International Airport.
Their first face-to-face encounter has been nearly two years in the making. The long-lost sisters found each other when Hoffman and Harriet Carter, 76, took DNA tests with Ancestry.com.
The sisters later learned that their parents gave Carter up for adoption shortly after her birth. Carter was born when their parents were just 18 years old.
Both parents both died decades ago, taking the secret with them.
"I had a message from Harriet saying, 'I think we might be related,'" Hoffman said. "We were 100% match, but our parents never told a soul, ever."
Hoffman and Carter have been talking on the phone nearly every day since they found out they are related. But because of the pandemic, they've never met in person — until Tuesday.
Carter arrived in Denver from Sacramento early Tuesday morning.
"I can't quit staring at you," Hoffman told her older sister.
Even before leaving the airport, the two sisters took a step back in time and looked at some of Hoffman's old photos, providing a glimpse of memories missed.
"This picture is sad because you're not in it," Hoffman told her sister.
"To see all these pictures of the love and the bonding and the closeness...now that I get older, it's especially relevant," Carter said.
When the two arrived at Hoffman's home, Carter was greeted by a special room of Christmas decorations for her arrival.
"Look at this. I love it," Carter said.
It's not the time missed they dwell on. Instead, the sisters choose to cherish the time they have left.
"I think we found each other when we were supposed to," Hoffman said.
This story was originally published by Gary Brode on Scripps station KMGH in Denver.