With the prevalence of genealogy websites and DNA testing, long-lost family reunions are becoming more possible—but that doesn’t make this Reader’s Digest story of two half-sisters finding each other any less miraculous.

Sandra Nicholson, 65, and Ga Neille (Ginnie) Hostvedt, 76, have recently been happily reunited after spending more than 60 years without each other. For Sandra, the discovery that she had a half-sibling came as a complete surprise, but for Ginnie it was less so. She had been on the hunt for her biological father, James Nicholson, for nearly 50 years, and had known about Sandra for over a decade.

“We talked as if we’d known each other a thousand years,” said Ginnie.

Ginnie was raised by her mother and stepfather, who told her she had a biological father when she was young—but also dissuaded her from looking for him. “[My mother] always said that my stepfather would be angry if I had a relationship with my father,” Ginnie explained to Reader’s Digest. “But I think she was just concerned.”

After a lifetime of trying and failing to find him, Ginnie finally made a breakthrough in the search. At her 50th high school reunion, she reconnected with an old classmate who had worked as a genealogist and offered to help. That’s how Ginnie met Keith, a paternal cousin.

Sandra Nicholson and Ginnie Hostvedt
Sandra Nicholson, left, and Ginnie Hostvedt

Keith gave Ginnie the sad news that her father had died, in 1989. But there was some hope: He had other children—one daughter and two sons.

Ginnie’s classmate managed to locate the address for Ginnie’s half-sister Sandra and sent her a letter explaining about James Nicholson’s first wife and daughter. But then the trail went cold, again. Sandra never responded.

Almost a decade later, Sandra was rifling through some of her old papers and came across the letter from Ginnie’s classmate, sent all the way back in 2010. Sandra excitedly reached out to the classmate, who was able to put Ginnie and Sandra in touch, after so many years.

The two sisters instantly liked each other. “We talked as if we’d known each other a thousand years,” said Ginnie. They discovered they have a lot in common: They are both creative types—artists and writers—and they love cats.

Although the two sisters have yet to meet each other in person, they have big plans. “I can’t wait to hug her tight,” Ginnie said. “It’s like I have the missing puzzle piece that I’ve been looking for all these years.”