Saturday, October 5, 2013

Long Lost Sister, Nancy

Today is the day that I will meet our long lost sister, Nancy.

Six months ago, Dane and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. It was a night like any other night. I checked my email on my phone and was surprised to see an email from someone named MaryAnna Balyeat and the subject line: Ancestors. I occasionally get emails from various cousins as they run across my genealogy blog, Ancestry.com tree, or my contributions to FindAGrave.com. So it wasn't unusual... until I opened the message.

date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 5:43 PM
Dear Kathy, 
My mother just asked me to day if I could find her biological father. 
I have no idea where to start, but had had some luck with find a grave website in my Dad's family tree. 
But, I don't know if he is even dead yet! 
So I looked him up, Roy Wait, and found only one that could be possibly him; that one was added by you. 
All we know about Roy is that he was married, had children, and divorced before my grandmother had mom. Grandmother and Roy were never married and Roy was gone before Mom was born. All we have of him is a pictuer and a recipt for Mom's crib with his name. Oh, also they lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

I know that they are probably not the same, but I had to start somewhere. 
Thank you for your time.  
His only,
~MaryAnna 
I am apart of the body of Christ therefore, the BRIDE of Christ.

I froze.

My jaw dropped to the floor.

My eyes glazed over.

I handed my phone to Dane so he could read the message.

I pulled up Dad's old pictures that I scanned a while back with photos of his daughter, Nancy, that he lost track of when she was probably about four years old. I've known about her and another long lost brother, Mark, for a long time and actually tried to find them right before Dad died. I was unsuccessful.

Here is the picture that always stood out to me. Grandma Uella with our brother Brian and Nancy. They sure look like brother & sister, don't they?




Then I did what any other 21st Century girl would do. I googled them. It wasn't difficult, considering that their family band has a website with a lot of pictures.

And here she is, all grown up:


She definitely has a "WAIT" look about her, Karen pointed out that she looks a little like Grandma Freda (Dad's mom).


I sent her the picture of Brian (above) and a couple of pictures during that time frame that I found in Dad's things.


 

And she sent me these. That's right. Pictures of "our people" that I'd never seen before. A different pose of the same picture of her mom Phyllis... the picture that made me cry of my Dad and her Mom looking ecstatic with the "biological father" caption... a picture of her with Brian... and another one of her with my grandparents Freda & Roy.

 




And there it was. Without a shadow of a doubt... Dad's long lost daughter had found us at last. 

It's been a long six months since she found us. I've only told a couple of people about this so I could let all of this sink in. I can only speak for myself, but you'd be surprised at the feelings that a discovery like this will bring up. I know that I had to work through a lot before I felt like I was up to unleashing this on the rest of the family. I wasn't ready for the questions or opinions or helpful advice. I just needed to let it simmer for a while and let it become what it would.

Nancy and I have emailed several times during all of this. I've tried to share what I've been told about the events back then. And I've tried to make her feel welcome in our family. I keep trying to put myself in her shoes. How would I feel if I grew up not knowing my father? And what if, suddenly, I found him, but he had already passed away? What would I want the experience with the rest of his family to be like? 

I don't know that I've handled this perfectly (like anything else in my life). I've gone too long between emails, letting it sink in. Maybe I've shared too much of the hearsay from the situation between OUR Dad and her Mom. It's hard to say. Part of me wants to just curl up in a ball on the couch and let this weekend pass so I don't have to actually confront it all face to face. But time isn't going to stand still so I can get my shit together. They're HERE. In NEBRASKA. Just an hour away. There's no time like the present. 

It's what Dad would have wanted. I can't imagine what he went through privately all of those years knowing that he had another daughter and son somewhere out there. Not knowing how they were or if they even knew about him. I remember asking him about Nancy and Mark when he was sick in the hospital and it was becoming apparent that he wouldn't recover. All he could do was shrug like "Well? What can we do?" 

So I'm doing for Dad what he couldn't do himself. I'm going to meet Nancy. 

That's what's keeping me going. It's what got me up off the couch. It's what's going to get me into the car. It's what's going to calm my nerves. And it's what's going to sustain me for the next couple of hours. Once we actually meet and get through the niceties, it'll be FINE. Until then, he's my driving force.

So, here we go. We're going to turn on the football game on the car radio and just... GO.

Ready or not, here we come!

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