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Published Friday May 29th, 2009 at 11:48am

Original Article by Lyndsay McCready

After 53 years apart and only moments together, Keith Johnston said it was as if he and his brother, Don Brooks, had never been separated.

On May 17, Johnston and wife Gale hosted a barbecue in honour of a very special guest, his long-lost brother.

He said the moments before meeting his younger brother for the first time were full of emotion, nerves and excitement. As soon as Brooks had one foot in the door, however, all that melted away and a new feeling of belonging took its place.

"After only meeting for a few minutes, it was as if we had known each other our entire lives," Johnston said.

He said the family connection was immediate and the bond built in that moment is one that will last a lifetime.

"Since meeting him, my chest has been swollen (with happiness). My chest is still swollen now. I just can't believe we are back together."

In 1956, Don Brooks and his sister were put up for adoption by their mother.

Although the two were adopted to separate families, Brooks has always known he had an older sister, who died in a car accident in 1976.

However, he did not know he also had an older brother, another older sister and a baby brother.

So, when an anonymous letter came to him through the Provincial Post Adoption Registry, he was shocked to learn his brothers had been trying to locate him for the past two years

Johnston said he and his younger brother, Zane Johnston, of Esterhazy, had contemplated trying to find Brooks for many years, but had to wait until their mother had died to do so.

Johnston said the reason for the delay was simply because his mother wanted nothing to do with the search.

Once his mother had died, Johnson and his wife knew it was time to determine what they needed to do to find his younger siblings.

The couple's first call was to Social Services in Moose Jaw, and then the Provincial Post Adoption Registry.

Johnston said when they first approached the agency, they were shocked to find out it would take two years for it to locate his brother. In hindsight, however, he said the time flew by.

"I did keep on top of (the agency) with calls every couple of months for updates and every time I called they said they were a bit closer to finding him. But when I got the call saying they had found him and I could write (an anonymous) letter — I think my heart stood still."

Johnston said writing that first letter was one of the hardest letters he has ever had to write in his entire life.

"I didn't have a clue what to write. Eventually I wrote something along the lines of: Dear Don and family, I have always known, somewhere out in the world, I had a brother that I had never seen or met. I have often wondered how you were doing, where you were living and was life good to you."

Little did Johnston know his brother was closer than he thought and by writing what seemed to be a simple, yet life changing letter, he was about to give his brother the ultimate birthday present.