My mother died in 1957 when I was just a wee thing. I have very vague memories of her and what little I know has been told to me by other people lucky enough to remember her. My bereft father, who never expected to be widowed at such a young age, left me in the care of my maternal grandparents. Our living arrangement may not have been conventional, but I grew up in a wonderful home filled with love. The last time I saw my dad was fifty years ago—that’s right half a century. As a result, it was also the last time I saw anyone from his side of the family.Fast forward to 2010. I was writing my book, Bringing Up Oscar, and I joined ancestry.com to aid in my research. One Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a break from work and look up my dad’s family. Lo and behold, I found them! My dad and his brother, Bob, had both passed away, but I was able to contact my Uncle Bob’s eldest daughter, Janice, who not only remembered me, but welcomed me with an enthusiasm I never expected. It seems my cousins had been looking for me for years, but I never knew it!
I have since met Janice and her sister, Kim. Through them, I learned that my dad’s sister, Irene, and her children had relocated to the west coast. My Aunt Irene (my dad’s only surviving sibling) is now in her eighties and I recently had the opportunity to see her again. While traveling out west last month, I made arrangements to visit her daughter, my cousin Shelia. I remember Shelia as the girl with beautiful long, dark curls that floated behind her as she played and her brother, Jerry, as the handsomest boy who ever donned a military uniform.After a great lunch with Shelia and her husband, Dean, we visited the rehab facility where my Aunt Irene is recovering from a nasty fall. Seeing them after all these years was nothing short of a miracle. It was better than finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow!
As for my cousin, Jerry, he moved to Oregon so I haven’t seen him yet—but don’t you worry, Jerry—I’m coming for you next when you least expect it—unless, of course, you make it to Michigan before I get out there!!
Me and Shelia - 1956
Me and Shelia - today