Was over at my in-laws for dinner. One of them is an amateur genealogist (do you get professional genealogists? I suppose you could…), and he plugged my dad’s name and birth date into the program he uses. From what I have garnered, it is a loose cloud of information floating somewhere in the internether. You build your family tree there, other people build theirs, if the two of you happen to have a common point then the data which you’ve chosen to make public can overlap.
Someone else had already created an entry for someone who could have been my dad–a couple of data points met–and it included a picture, so I got called over to take a look at it.
It was him.
It was taken in the mid-late 40s, I guess; the scan of it online is greyscale and not very big. You can make out four candles on the cake balanced on his knees (birthday picture, is the guess), but he’s clearly way more than four. I looked at it for a second, and I couldn’t say one way or the other if it was dad, and then there was this realization that I’d seen that expression on his face before, that exact expression, and I felt… nothing as strong as stunned. Taken aback, maybe, or pleasantly surprised, or something.
Part of it was understanding that someone else knew about him; someone I’d never had reason to imagine existed found a picture of him and figured out or was told who he was. Part of it was that he looked happy.
Also I have now learnt my paternal grandmother’s names, and picked up a smidgen of detail about the trip she took to come over from Italy.
 I had a moment of thinking “Am I sure it was a scan?” and then being slightly disconcerted to realize that yes, of course I am sure. Digital pictures were so not an option at that point, after all.