A Federal Express letter from Temple City earlier this month changed Adolph A. Szameit's life.
Szameit, 59, a retiree living alone in Pensacola, Fla., had long ago given up hope of finding his lost love, Betty Benson Szameit, and their son, Randy. He last saw them in Seattle 27 years ago, when Randy was 2.
But the letter, from Randy Szameit's wife, Alison, changed all that. In less than a week, Adolph Szameit has been transformed from a bachelor to a father and grandfather. And last Thursday he became a bridegroom.
Szameit was planning to marry Randy's mother before going back to Florida to pack his belongings, then return to join her in Pasadena.
"I didn't want to leave without us being a family again, even a short time," he said.
The family members separated years ago because of circumstances beyond their control, Adolph Szameit said, adding that to say more might hurt other people involved.
Through the years, Szameit, a manager for a high-technology firm with worldwide offices, searched in vain for his son, even asking the company's branches to help. But he ran into dead end after dead end.
"My big worry was that he may have been hurting and needed me," Adolph Szameit said, his voice breaking. "You never stop wondering."
Through the years, Randy Szameit said, he also wondered about his father, who he thought had abandoned the family. But he did not ask his mother for fear of upsetting her.
It was not until Randy's son, Shaun, was born four years ago that he and his wife began thinking more about finding the senior Szameit.
"We were wondering what Shaun's background is," Alison Szameit said.
At that point Alison's mother, Norma Gutierrez--a genealogy buff looking for her own brother, who had been adopted by another family--joined the search.
Every time they were at the library, Alison said, she and her mother would peruse the out-of-town telephone books. "We'd look to see if there's another Szameit."
Eventually, with help from Social Security officials, the two found Adolph Szameit's address in Pensacola last week. Alison Szameit immediately sent an overnight letter with photographs of herself and her husband.
"I read the letter and I said, 'This is some kind of hoax,' " Adolph Szameit said. "I thought it's some kind of scam to take advantage of retired people. I came this close to throwing it in the trash."
But the letter mentioned Randy Szameit's half-sister, now living in Pennsylvania, and Adolph Szameit decided that it might be for real. He double-checked by calling directory assistance in Temple City and discovered that there was indeed a resident named Randy Szameit.
After a few tearful telephone calls, Adolph Szameit decided to head West. Although usually a private person, he said, he couldn't help telling everyone, from the travel agent to fellow passengers and the airline crew on his flight to Los Angeles, that he had found his son.
"The stewardesses were crying," Szameit said. And so did the Pensacola travel agents, who made special arrangements to get him economy seats in less than 24 hours.
"We were so into the whole reunion," said Patrice Adams of Today's Travel in Pensacola. Her entire office "just got kind of all choked up."
One night last week, in a joyous and tearful reunion at Los Angeles International Airport, Adolph Szameit hugged and kissed his family. He cradled his son's and grandson's faces, gazing at them half in disbelief.
"Oh, God," he said, "I'm so glad to see you."