When somebody says they have a new addition to their family, it usually means someone had a baby. Not so in this case.
Here's the abbreviated story...
In 1945, when my Mother was just 5 years old, her father walked out on their family. He left behind a wife and 6 children. He was never seen by his family again. No clues, no trail to follow, nothing. There were many assumptions and theories surrounding his mysterious disappearance, but no facts.
My Mother always yearned to know what happened to her father. It seemed that her brothers were all able to move on and leave the past alone, but she had a more difficult time of it. She searched for him numerous times, and even visited a psychic hoping for some answers. My family lived with this mystery until about a month ago.
A genealogist contacted a couple members of our family, searching for information about the father of her client. Long story short, this 'client' is the daughter of my long lost would be grandfather! We've since been piecing the story together, bit by bit. We now know that the man who was supposed to by my grandfather left his family and relocated to Indiana, remarried, and had another daughter. He led a pretty decent life and lived until 1991! Talk about a shocker.
Her name is Wendie. I call her my "new aunt". To say that she was shocked to discover the story of her father and the life he left behind, would be an understatement. She knew he was very secretive about his past, but she was raised to believe she was an only child. Imagine finding out you had a bunch of brothers and a sister and never had the opportunity to meet them. Not only that but several of her father's siblings are still alive and well. We have a huge extended family. It's all a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
The best part of this story (for me anyway) is that Wendie lives just 45 minutes away from me here in Illinois! Unreal.
My sister and I met Wendie for dinner last week. It seems surreal, even as I sit here and type the words, I find it difficult to absorb. We had a great time talking and sharing stories. We could have sat there all night. However, all the excitement is overshadowed by the sadness that my Mom never got a chance to hear the end of the story, or meet the sister she never knew she had. She would have loved to have a sister. Wendie has said the same.
Wendie will have an opportunity next month to meet her new extended family. She will be celebrating her 60th birthday in Rochester, which was planned before she knew about all of us! I'm happy for her, and happy to finally have some answers to the great family mystery.