An American woman has asked the people of Derry to help her find her Irish mother, whom she hasn’t seen in 43 years.

Michelle Eckert’s parents met in Derry in 1967 – she was a local girl and he was an American sailor, stationed at the Navcommsta Naval Base. They left together for the US, and in February 1968, Michelle was born in Pennsylvania.

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Michelle was just a toddler when her parents split up, she told the Derry Journal. She was taken to live with her father, who prevented her mother from seeing her. She said that her mother still managed to sneak her birthday presents through a third-party during her early years, but then they stopped too.

Her mother’s name was not recorded on her birth certificate, leaving Michelle with only a fingerprint to aid her in her search. All she knows is that her maternal grandmother’s name was Gertrude H. Knauss, and that her mother’s name is “something ending in a ‘....tella’ Elizabeth Knauss, with a silent K.”

She spoke of her immense grief, saying “I still cry, every night, I miss her that much.”

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The Derry Journal published her impassioned letter asking local people for help in identifying and finding her mother.

“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,