‘Please help me trace my mother’

Michelle Eckert is looking to be reunited with her mother.
Michelle Eckert is looking to be reunited with her mother.

An American woman has issued a plea for local people to help her trace her Derry-born mother after 43 years apart.

Michelle Eckert (nee Bednar) has written an impassioned letter which she hopes her mother will one day be able to read in person.

Michelle- like many children- resulted from a union between a local girl and a US sailor, but she became separated from her mother at a young age after her parents split up and she was taken to live with her father.

Her mother’s mother, Michelle’s grandmother, was a Gertrude H. Knauss.

Michelle said that from very brief references regarding her own mother over the years, she has learned that her name was something ending in ‘....tella’ Elizabeth Knauss, with a silent ‘K’.

“A sad yet massive breakthrough would be for me even to establish my mother’s first name although variations of her Christian name have been tried,” Michelle said.

Michelle said her mother left for the US “with a male ‘friend’ from the local Navy base.

“Just shortly afterwards I, Michelle, was born February 1968 in Pennsylvania, USA” she said. “My mother’s identification was merely by thumbprint.”

Michelle recalls her earliest years in Bethlehem and Whitehall, Philadelphia as being “somewhat secluded nature with my very compassionate, caring and loving mother”.

She added that she also remembers that in the Autumn of 1971, she remembers “the wailing sound of my mother’s begging pleas” being separated from her “poor helpless mother”, whom she said was alone in America.

She said that in the next few years her mother managed to get secret presents to her via a third party, including a night dress she kept for years.

“I still cry, every night, I miss her that much,” Michelle said. “I have sketched her and our homes many times, with memories I bet would surprise her.

“Me and both my daughters look just like her- face, hair, even my granddaughters look like her, the family resemblance is that strong.

“Even if you do not know my mother and irrespective of your Christian beliefs, I would sincerely ask - PLEASE you, the people of this city and surrounding areas, pray that I find her after some 43 years.”

In an open letter entitled ‘Take This Letter To My Mother’ Michelle writes:

Dear Mother:

‘I have never forgotten you and if it is God’s will through the help of the people of Derry/Londonderry and surrounding areas I hope to reunited with you again soon.

Also I do not know your actual Christian denomination, nor does it really matter to me - but just that you are my mother.

You have influenced my life more than you may ever understand; I have not forgotten my brief but lasting memories of you.

Due to the circumstances then, I know why your name is not on my birth records, just your dear precious thumb print, so how could I ever blame you.

In turn I have ensured that my daughters have known of you all their lives.

Indeed they helped me search for you, and through this, they too ache to meet you.

For years I have searched and prayed for you. My sweet Mother, I love you more than ever, call me, text me or whatever and even if I couldn’t walk I would be prepared to crawl to see you, I

miss you that much!

My arms are open you may come right to my home, right away. We could hug, cry and, talk as I really ache to hear your voice again!

My beautiful Mother, please lose not another moment. All these hurtful years without you don’t matter anymore. So many smiles and tears of happiness await you!

Hurry to me, and finally take your proper place in our lives, a place that has only ever been yours and is empty.

Upon receipt of this letter you shall have my phone number, home address and all the love that I can give you.

Love Always,

Ever in Christ,

Michelle.’