A Calgary woman says she always had an easy and natural relationship with her hairstylist of six years, and describes the tight hugs they would end sessions with as familial — the kind you'd get from a parent or brother, for instance.
What they didn't know until recently is that they actually are half-siblings, after a shared desire to find out more about their family histories led them to uncover the truth.
Andrea Quint Fleck says her father is adopted, and she always wondered about his roots.
Her hairdresser Troy Winget says he never knew his dad, and always had questions about who he was.
They both pursued answers on different genealogy sites, and separately began tracing their ancestry.
"I've always been curious about where my dad came from and who his family is, so when the adoption records were opened a number of years ago, we looked into getting his records right away," Quint Fleck says.
"But there were still a lot of question marks, a lot of things unanswered. And so that led me to … getting an ancestry DNA test."
'Like my heart stopped'
It's possible they wouldn't have come across each other at all, but a relative in common — their half-uncle in the U.S. — had registered on multiple sites and noticed he was connected to both Winget and Quint Fleck in Calgary.
He first connected with Winget before offering to connect the two of them.
"He says at the end … 'Troy, I'm supposed to talk to this girl in Calgary, she has the same DNA percentages as you do to me — do you mind if I share your information?'" Winget says.
Winget agreed, and the uncle immediately got in touch with Quint Fleck. He sent her a photo of the relative he had discovered in Calgary, which he had taken from Winget's Facebook page.
"I look on my phone, and it's a picture of Troy. In that moment, I just remember feeling like my heart stopped," Quint Fleck said.
"The colour drained from my face, I was shaking, I almost dropped my phone on the floor… I just sat in the car and just kept looking at this picture, over and over again."
The uncle immediately informed Winget that the relative was his client, Quint Fleck. Winget says he remembers the moment he found out as vividly as she does.
"The hairs on the back of my neck stood up," Winget said. "I almost burst into tears a little bit. I was vibrating."
A three-way call connected them, and for the first time, Winget and Quint Fleck spoke knowing they were relatives.
"There was lots of giggling and crying," Winget says. "After we get off the phone … I just told Andrea, 'I need to come and see you right now.' And I went over there and I embraced her and I cried."
'It's beautiful, it's awesome'
Since discovering they share a father, Winget says he is developing a relationship with the family he never knew.
"It's beautiful, it's awesome," Winget says. "I'm very lucky that I got an amazing family to connect with."
He is also now in contact with his father, who Winget says never knew had a son.
"[When] you find somebody that's alive — he's 74 — and an amazing sister, it's lots of emotions," Winget says.
The two half-siblings say the discovery has evolved their relationship and enriched their lives.
"Some things have changed, a lot of things haven't," Winget says. "She's my family. I get to say I love you every time. She says she loves me every time."
For her part, Quint Fleck says she's found somebody "that I didn't even know was missing from my life."