It all began in March.
“My sister called and said, ‘Bobby, what was you doing 54 years ago?’ ” said Bob Monize, 76, of Camano Island.
This wasn’t the usual greeting he received from his sister, Linda O’Reilly, of Everett.
He mumbled something about how it was after he got back from a stint with the Navy in the South Pacific.
“That’s not the only place it sounds like you were,” she told him.
She went on explain about a woman named Lorna, born in 1964, who claimed to be his daughter.
What’s up with that?
The revealing world of mail-order home DNA tests.
Lorna Fischer, who lives in Redmond, grew up with “None Named” as her father on her birth certificate. After decades of trying to fill in the blank, she took an AncestryDNA test earlier this year when she found a deal for $79.
The information on O’Reilly, who’d taken the test last year, popped up on Fischer’s results as a close family member.
Fischer immediately contacted O’Reilly. “It looks like we may be related,” she said.
The two compared notes.
“She said, ‘I think my brother is your dad,’ ” Fischer said. “I said, ‘You mean he’s alive?’ ”
That’s when Monize got the call from his sister, who arranged a lunch meeting at Anthony’s in Everett.
Monize was skeptical, but a good sport. He felt bad for the lady so he went along.
“I asked her, ‘Who’s your mother?’ ” he said.
The answer she gave made him even more skeptical.
Fischer’s mom was the younger sister of an Everett boy from his childhood.
“When I was a kid, a friend would go over there. That’s how I knew her brother,” Monize said.
Her brother, their only connection, had died while Monize was in the Navy. He didn’t recall seeing her when he was back.
“I don’t have any recollection of ever kissing the girl,” Monize said. “I didn’t even remember what she looked like until I saw a picture of her when she was younger.”
Still, he was touched by Fischer’s situation and offered to pay for a DNA paternity test at a lab.
“We will have it settled one way or the other. I wouldn’t want to go through life with an unknown father,” Monize said. “I was sure I was not her dad.”
Fischer’s mother was equally skeptical. She also denied ever having any physical contact with Monize, a guy she hardly remembered from half a century ago. His wasn’t among the names she’d offered Fischer over the years as possible candidates as her father.
Monize and Fischer met at Any Lab Test Now in a strip mall on Everett Mall Way.
“Before we went in I said, ‘Lorna, I don’t think I’m your dad,’ ” he said. “She said, ‘My mother said the same thing.’ ”
Fischer said she had her doubts, too.
Cheek swabs from the two were taken at the lab and sent off for testing. He paid the $199.
Monize told the lab worker the seemingly ludicrous story about the conception — an encounter two people said never happened between them that summer of ’63.
Within a week, the results were in.
“I called Lorna and we agreed to meet in the parking lot of the lab at 10 a.m. the next day,” Monize said. “I arrived early and Lorna did not arrive until approximately 10:30. I asked her why she was late, and she said she got so nervous that she had to pull over two times off the road.”
Together, they were handed the results. A single sheet of paper with rows of stats for about 20 genetic markers — D3S1358, CSF1PO, SE33, the list went on.
In bold, at the bottom, were the only numbers that made sense. Probability of paternity: 99.9998 percent.
“The lab worker said she ran it twice and got back identical tests,” Monize said.
Fischer burst into tears. Monize might have wiped his eyes.
“As we both left the lab, Lorna was heading for her car and I was heading for mine,” he said, “and I yelled out her name, ‘Lorna, who’s your daddy?’ And she yelled back, ‘You are,’ and ran into my arms.”
Fischer broke the news to her mom.
“I said, ‘Mom, the DNA proves it, he’s my father.’ And she goes, ‘I’ll be damned.’ ”
That’s just the beginning of their story.
Since then, Monize and Fischer have been making up for lost time.
“Every time she calls me she starts to laugh,” he said. “I don’t know why she laughs. Maybe she is like me, half a bubble off.”
Fischer sees similarities.
“His sense of humor, some might not appreciate it. He has sort of a sassy personality and what’s funny is that I do, too,” she said. “He always has cough drops and I do, too. When we drove together from here to WSU for my daughter’s graduation I counted 50 cough drops in his car.”
Fischer, divorced with a 22-year-old daughter, worked in sales and recently earned a certificate as a medical assistant. She started a new job last week at a Virginia Mason office in Bellevue.
Monize, who was a detective for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office among other things, was married several times and has lived alone since his last wife died seven years ago. He has two other daughters and a son.
Fischer has met her new siblings.
“I’m the oldest. I’m the firstborn,” she joked. “I love having a brother. I never had a brother. I always wanted a big family.”
Her biological parents have been reacquainted since the DNA birth announcement. Monize went to Fischer’s mom’s birthday party in May.
“I said, ‘How did this happen?’ She said, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Monize said.
Her mom sent him a birthday card when he turned 76 two weeks ago.
Fischer, who grew up in Monroe, said she has always been curious about her real father’s identity. “I thought my stepdad was my real dad and I was about 16 when my cousin told me he wasn’t. I kept pushing my mom.”
Nothing panned out.
“I figured I’d never know,” Fischer said. “I always felt like I must be a lot like my dad.”
The $79 mail-order home DNA test was a last resort.
It’s also a new start.
“We are still getting to know each other,” he said.
“I want him to teach me things,” she said.
He has given her advice on saving money for retirement, tricks for cooking a moist turkey and, like any overprotective father, self-defense.
“If anyone is going to attack you, you take your thumbs and put them in their eyes and push your way out,” she said, quoting her dad.
He nodded approvingly.