Mother Reunites with Son After 32 Years

It's a space at the table that sat empty for 32 years. Erma Ott of Grand Saline lost touch with son, Tom Ravencroft, following a divorce decades ago.

Ott's ex-husband took full custody of Tom, leaving her with only visitation rights. Soon the visits got less and less.

"When I would go visit him, he was sick. He was always gone," she remembers. "Or, he was asleep, and I got to take him out about three times--that was it."

Erma eventually moved to Texas and lost contact with her son altogether. Letters sent to Tom were returned to her in the mail. Tom Ravenport, then 4-years old, grew up without knowing his mom.

That changed Saturday night when a greyhound bus pulled into an East Texas terminal carrying a 36-year old man named Tom Ravenport.

"I'm afraid that I'm dreaming," said Ott while waiting. "You know, I'm gonna wake up, and he's not going to be here. It's a dream."

Waiting minutes for a bus seemed like eternity for a mother who hadn't seen her son in three decades. When Tom stepped off the bus with arms outstretched for a hug, he headed straight toward mom--recognizing her only from pictures she sent to him.

Tom's returning home meant a lot to a family who searched hours online looking for him. Their luck changed when Ott found an ancestry web site and subscribed to a people search.

"About two months ago, I got a letter from a guy in New Jersey who had a copy of my story," remembers Ott. "And he had one that Tom wrote."

Tom using a friends e-mail had started looking for mom as well.

"The next thing I know my friend private messages me and tells me that someone is looking for me," Tom recalls. The message was from Tom's stepbrother David Dickens, who took up his mother's cause and began his own online search.

A dozen phone calls and e-mails later, Tom was on a bus heading for East Texas. When he arrived, Tom had mom to reunite with and a new step dad and step-siblings to meet.

"We got up about nine this morning. And we've been talking ever since," says Ott.

Time for the family is now of essence. It's something they refuse to waste. The reunion came just in time for mother and son. Erma and her family are moving to Tennessee this month. Tom plans on moving with them.