— -- Thanks to some Facebook sleuthing, a brother and sister were finally able to meet for the first time after decades apart.
John Pilotte met his half-sister, Susie Wilson, in New Orleans this weekend after Wilson tracked down her big brother through social media.
Pilotte, 47, told ABC News he had no contact with his father for more than 20 years. By the time they reconnected, when Pilotte was in his early 30s, his father had two other children: a boy and girl.
Eventually, Pilotte again became estranged from his father but he said he always wondered about his other siblings.
“I knew I had a brother and sister, but nothing more than that,” he said. “I really didn’t want to develop a relationship with my father.”
Pilotte said his sister, who’s from Wisconsin, started to search for her long-lost brother more than four years ago.
“As time went on, I was more and more curious about my brother and sister,” Pilotte said. “At the same [time], she was also curious about me.”
While both Wilson and Pilotte were curious about each other, Pilotte points out that his name is more distinctive on social media than Wilson’s. In 2011, Wilson finally found her big brother on Facebook and managed to give him a call.
“On Thanksgiving, I got a phone call out of the blue,” Pilotte recalled. “She said, ‘I’m your sister.’ We talked for an hour. …That was something I always wanted was to have a little sister.”
Although Pilotte is 16 years older than Wilson, he said the two talked consistently for years and texted often.
“The whole thing developed to what it is now,” Pilotte said. “We are almost identical in terms of our characteristics and sense of humor.”
While they were able to talk on the phone, they were unable to meet face-to-face until Wilson could flew to New Orleans from her home in Green Bay. Pilotte said he was overcome with emotion when he finally got to see his sister for the first time.
“We ran to each other, we hugged and all the emotions were there,” Pilotte said. “I told her, ‘Don’t cry.’”When Wilson first saw Pilotte at the airport, she had to hold back tears.
"I left my waterproof mascara in my bag, so I have to hold it together,” she told ABC News affiliate WGNO-TV in New Orleans.
Pilotte said the pair had a great a weekend after Wilson arrived Saturday with her fiance, including a visit to downtown New Orleans and a trip to a Saints football game.
But Pilotte said he’s most excited to meet more family members, including his half-brother who lives in California and other extended family members.
“There are some moments I’m never going to forget: marrying my wife, having my child and meeting my sister is up there,” Pilotte said. “Everything going on this weekend; it’s almost like it’s supposed to happen this way.”