Saturday, April 29, 2017

My Lost Family

My handsome nephew Charles Davis and me.
My beautiful niece Dorothy Massey and me.
Many years ago, before my father met my mother, he had a set of twin girls, Ruth and Ester. Their mother, Sally, died during childbirth. As the years went on, my dad married and had another daughter, Sarah Jane (who died last year). Sometime after their divorce, dad moved from North Carolina to Cleveland, Ohio. My mother, who is from South Carolina, moved to Cleveland during this time and at some point, they ended staying in the same apartment building. That is how they met. After living up there for a while, they came back to NC and got married in 1951. It took 11 years for my brother Hampton to come along in June of 1962. Twenty months later, in February 1964, I entered the world, premature and weighing 2 pounds. Although I was not given a positive survival outlook, I survived.
As the years continued, I learned of my half-sister Sarah Jane. I even met her. We even went to NJ to see her and she and her family came to visit a few times when I was growing up. I always though it strange that all my nieces and nephews were older than me! While Sarah Jane and I knew of each other, we were never close. That was hurtful but I learned to live with it.
For reasons unknown to me, I did not hear about my twin half-sisters until I was an adult. By that time, they were both deceased. I cannot ask the "why" question because both of my parents are deceased too. Anyway, no answer would suffice. 
I had always yearned for a sister, and to know I had them but was never able to even see them has hurt me to my core. I believe that is why my closest female friends are so special to me because I look at them as the sisters I never had relationships with.
I love Facebook. Why? Because almost 3 years ago, my daughter posted that she missed her grandfather, Hampton Allen. A stranger, who was one of my nieces, Bay Davis, responded that he was her grandfather too! So, we connected! Then I found out that one of my nephews lived in Lancaster, SC and one of my nieces lived not to far away in another part of SC. Lancaster is one hours drive from my home! All these years I have close family nearby and did not know it. But instead of dwelling on the past and the missed years, we were able to get connected with the SC family and my girls, their children and I planned a trip to Lancaster. I asked that they get as many family members as they could in one spot and send me the address. I cannot tell you the joy we all felt that day. I met a nephew and niece (one from each twin), Charles and Dorothy. Charles wife, also named Dorothy (we call her Dotti to keep them straight). So Dotti made it happen! Everyone brought a dish and we had great eats and great music (old school of course). The best part: we connected on such a deep level that it is impossible to put in words. We even found we like a lot of the same things including food and music. That connection continues to grow stronger.
Although I kept in touch with Bay, she lives in upstate NY. That's a long way from NC. A couple of years ago, I went on a bus trip to NY. Unfortunately, they were not able to come to where I was. I was very disappointed. So, when my husband and I decided to go on a group bus trip to NY this year, I was determined to try a second time to meet more of my family. So I contacted Bay to let her know I was coming that way. Where she lives was only 35 miles from the hotel where I would be staying. I told her in plenty of time because she does not drive and someone would have to bring her. It turns out, her daughter, who works two jobs, brought her. Her daughter also brought her sister and their father to meet me. When I tell you I couldn't stop smiling, I'm not kidding! This was a reunion almost three years in the making! But connecting with my family was so worth the wait. And we look a lot alike as you see in the photos. And Bay and I are the same age! How crazy is that? 
Standing: Hampton's fiance Clesha Henry and Hampton Allen (my brother).
Couple on left: Nephew Charles Davis and wife Dotti. Couple on right: Me and husband Vaughn McMillian.
I still have two more nieces and one nephew to meet, but I am thankful to have met and connected with some of them. When I first met my nephew Charles, his wife Dotti and my niece Dorothy, I thought my heart would burst! Now I realize it was just stretching for me to have more room for my new family. When I met Bay, I had the same feeling of fullness so I knew exactly what it was. My heart was again making even more room for Pat, Marilyn and James, the ones I have yet to meet. Together we will be creating memories that will last us our lifetime! Having a family is a privilege and a blessing. Each day I plan to enjoy mine to the fullest, with gratitude, love and unspeakable joy in my heart. Visit our growing family tree here: 

Niece Antonia "Bay" Davis and me.
Left to right: Niece "Bay", her daughter Keisha, me and her daughter Tamara.
They all call me Aunty (and I love it)!

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