Everyone has that lost relative…the one that is only talked about in hushed tones. At family gatherings you speak of him/her but only for a moment and then the subject is changed before you can even decipher what’s happened. And for the most part people are content with that. After all what can THEY do to change things? Life is too busy to be worrying about a distant relative out there floating around.
In 1998 I was heavily pregnant with my daughter. Of course this meant I was also heavily hormonal. From as far back as I could really and clearly remember I knew I had a half sister. My mother and father divorced when I was around nine and both moved on with their lives. This entailed my father fathering two more children with two other women. In 1998 I had a little sister who had just turned five. As I got to watch her grow I thought back on the little sister out there I knew nothing about. I knew her name was Alicia and that her mother had moved back to New Jersey after she and my father split up. This bothered me tremendously because my father’s family is HUGE. There were a grand total of 13 brothers and sisters for him. I was raised up with the understanding that family was first. ALWAYS.
And so…I just couldn’t grasp how this had happened. I would speak to my father about it when I was in my teens but he quickly changed the subject and it wouldn’t be until I was a grown woman with children of my own that I understood he wasn’t being insensitive. It just hurt too much for him to talk about it. Now…as I’ve said…the hormones were raging and I decided I was no longer content to let it rest. I NEEDED to know where she was. If she was okay. What she looked like. Did she look like me? And so I asked my father those unbearable questions. I pushed until I got answers. Where was the last place he knew of her living? What was her mothers people’s names? And with in a few days…I found her.
The phone was ringing in my ear and then…”Hello.” Now I knew she had two older half siblings as well. But I also knew…this was her. My sister was on the other end of that phone and I was paralyzed with fear. “Hello?” ….right….answer her!
I asked to speak to her mother…I did not want to go over her head. When her mother answered the phone I told her my name. She then stated that she didn’t recognize the name but then I told her my maiden name. “What took you so long?”, she asked. She had been waiting for this moment all of Alicia’s life! Alicia knew all about her family in Florida and was just as anxious to know us as we were to know her. And I spoke to her. This 16yr old that was my sister. Suddenly she was real! I had a million questions and she had only one. “Why did it take so long for you to call?” To that I had no answer. I could only tell her that our father was never a very “in your face” type of man. When her mother left with her he felt it was best for her. (long long story)
And so began the building of a fragile relationship between two sisters that knew each other not at all but where drawn by blood. She came to visit us and for a while lived with my father and his then wife and then myself and my husband. And then she moved back to her mothers. She had children and she and her other half moved back down with those two precious children. And then she moved back. Two years ago she lost the love of her life to cancer and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. To watch her face that mind bending hurt and know there was nothing I could do for her.
Now we are older and (some what) wiser. We speak to each other when we can but it’s not often enough. We live our lives, catch hurried phone conversations when we can but you know what?
We get to have those hurried conversations. I get to say…”My sister that lives in Jersey….” in conversation. I have had the pleasure of getting to know her personality (she is a firecracker!) and knowing her children.
It is a blessing beyond compare to have that experience!
There are other relatives out there that I seem to have lost…some I’ve found…and some I haven’t. But that is for another story...