When I was growing up I knew some of the details of my mother’s youth, I knew that she did not live with her parents, that she had an older brother who died very young, that her parents were divorced and each had married several times. I know she had four brothers and a sister from her mother and a brother & sister from her father, and that there were some step children as well. Mostly I knew she was raised by Gramma Frew and her Aunt Betty. Gramma Frew’s youngest child was just a couple of years older than my mother, so she was like another child. There were so many children and grandchildren for Gramma, mom was never alone.
Except that she was very much alone. At first after her brother died and then a few days later her grandfather died, things I guess where chaotic. I was told that Janet & Howard liked to party and drink and both sets of parents were against this marriage to begin with and it fell apart after Buddy died and then Janet’s father. What happened next I am not sure, but mom was sent to live with different relatives until finally she came back to Janet’s mother, Gramma Frew. She was a widow with 8 children, Janet the oldest, and 6 were still at home. Mom was just a few years younger than Gramma’s youngest child, she fit right in.
As I became an adult and would ask questions about the family I learned a lot more of the truth and was always very sad for mom. All she ever wanted was her family. Her father and mother had gone off to have other families and were not in her life until she became an adult. And even then it was not a healthy connection. However, she did so much enjoy getting to know her siblings from her mother. My three Uncles and Aunt are a treasured part of her family and she loved them unconditionally as do I.
But there were three others still missing. And if anyone ever knew my mother, you knew that she held family above all else in her life, except God.
Her mother had a child and she was told Janet had given him up for adoption. Janet told her soon to be ex-husband (my grandfather) the child was his and called him one name and to her much older boyfriend she said the child was his and called him something else. I do not think we will ever find that son as no one knows where he was born/adopted. Janet passed away in 2001 and never really told the whole truth about this child, despite my mother and her siblings asking questions.
On her father’s side, after Janet Howard married a woman named Agnes and had a son who was named Howard. Mom was told, I believe by her paternal grandmother, that after Howard and Agnes divorced, he was adopted by his step-father and his named had changed. She only knew her father Howard’s 2nd wife’s first name so we had no way to find him without a clue to the new surname or even where they lived.
Now enters the internet and “rooms” full of genealogist and searchers like me. I posted so many messages in so many rooms I lost count. I would often put Howard’s name in adoption search sites and had no luck. I had not quite given up, but I had moved on to other projects.
Then in 2009 I get an email. Aimee, daughter of Howard, had on a lark put her father’s name into Google search and saw several of the posts I had placed. She could not believe that she found her father’s name on the internet let alone finding a cousin! She emailed me and my world changed forever!
I found out that Howard was never adopted and his name never changed! Aimee and I chatted by email and then phone and I was given Howard’s phone number and with very nervous fingers I dialed it as quickly as I could. We talked for so long I think the phone became a part of my hand.
We were amazed at the stories of his life and my mother’s. He was into baseball and bowling, my mother was crazy about baseball (football too) and a bowling champ with many trophies! They had so much in common and to never have met or known each other was such a shame! I could just tell by talking to him she really would have loved this brother in her life.
Howard only found out he had a sister when in 1977 he went to meet his grandmother, Edna McMeekin, and chat with her. I understand it was a very uncomfortable meeting and that Howard intended on going back to talk with her more, but she died in July of that year, a few days after her son, his father Howard, died. At that visit, Edna told Howard he had a sister named Sheila, told him the (wrong) state she lived in and nothing more. Howard told me he always thought that my mother was younger than he. I told him she was the oldest and that he did indeed have a another sister, Susie, who was younger. That really threw him!
Much to my saddened heart, Howard passed away a little over a year ago, Before I was able to meet him in person. It was such a blessing to have been able to talk with him and to get to know him a bit and now I have Aimee and her family in my life. A Google gift.
After Agnes, there was #3 wife for Howard. Ruth. We do not know her surname or much of anything else. She was not married to Howard very long either. They had a daughter Susan Kay in 1956. She married Jeff Bunn and they had a son named William Christopher in 1977. Mom had that much information written in her address books that I now have. However, Susie has since divorced and remarried. Last known address was in Nevada. I did find a Susie Bowers I thought was her, but when I called she denied being her, rather quickly I thought, and hung up. I have hopes that someday I will get an email or call from her. Or maybe her son will Google her and he will contact me too. It could happen.
Lost family leaves a whole in the heart, even when you have never met them. They are a part of you when you grow up hearing about them, knowing how much your mother wanted them in her life. They had a right to know their sister loved them.
If only as parents we knew the damage we can do to our children, even as adults, when you lie, hide and deny.