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My Blog

Finding The Other Half of Me

Good morning to all.  It is a gloomy morning here in the Chicago land area.     The one good thing about that is that it is raining instead of snowing.  The temperatures are to hit up in the 40's  I am doing the happy dance over that!  I have a lot on my work table to do and today would be the perfect day to get it done and put away. 
Today I sat here thinking of what I should write about.  There can be so many things that pop through my head and yet I can't just seem to pick any one unless it really resonates with me.  That might sound silly, but when I write it is like a journey for me.
So today, I thought that I would my blog would be about finding out about the other half of me.  That might put some questions up. I guess, I will start at the beginning.  You see, my parents were divorced when I was very young.  I grew up never knowing my father, or any of his side of the family .  I was only told stories about him...never about anyone else.  Now growing up with out a father for me was an unsettling emotional journey.  Everyone else I knew seem to have a father...so at the father daughter dances my Uncle stepped in to fill those shoes, but what I was told about my father was a horrible story and unsettling for me to accept.  I know we are not our parents...but when you are a child, we imagine that we take on their life story as part of who we are...I was just plain embarrassed back then and made up stories that appeared a whole lot nicer than the real one.  Well, I suppose all of that is another story! 
I didn't think a lot about him or his families background until I became pregnant.  When I was sitting in the doctor's office and the doctor posed all these questions about my family background's health information....for the first time in my life...I felt like half of a person.  I didn't know any of the health issues.  I was 21 years old by now and realized that I had been cut off from some very important background. 
Now, this was just the beginning of a new journey.  The journey to see and hear about where I came from. When I was pregnant with my first child, my paternal grandmother passed away and left me something in her will.  I was contacted and given my inheritance.  The guilt I felt at that time was overwhelming.  Another grandmother?  I didn't really even imagine that there was another grandmother!  There had to be a grandfather...but he was deceased already. 
Now, what I did know, was the town in Wisconsin that they were from.  One vacation, I wanted to go there and see where the other half of me came from...so with our two daughters, my husband and I drove to the town.  Mind you, I didn't have an address or anything...just the name of the town. Upon arriving, my husband asked what next?  Well, I said..it is a tiny town...let's find a church.  I assumed that since I was Catholic that they would have been as well, so we found this Catholic church.  I went inside and asked if they knew of my grandparents.  Well surprisingly they did!  They knew them very well.  They told me where they were buried and how we could get to the cemetery.  Not only did they reveal their final resting place, but also where to find the farm that they once owned.  So we were off to find it all.  First we drove to the cemetery and walked the area and finally found their graves.  I took videos of the graves and also placed flowers on the grave.  It was a big moment for me.  A void in my life was finally filled.  I stood over the grave in silence on the outside, but with a whole apologetic conversation with them on the inside.  Years of never knowing they existed and not ever stopping to think about them. 
Our next drive was to where the lady from the church explained where we might find the farm they once owned.  Her directions were on target and we pulled up to the farm and just sat there staring out the window.  Then all of a sudden, I opened the door and got out.  My husband questioned what I was doing.  I told him I was going to ring the doorbell...he thought I had lost my mind.  I marched right up to the door and after the bell was answered, chatted with the new owner of the home.  I explained who I was and asked whether I might be able to walk the land that my grandparents once walked.  He not only gave me permission to do that, but he also asked me to walk the house as well.  You see, he knew my grandparents.  I called my family and introduced them and then we stepped over the threshold into my other half of life.  I toured the home and could remember bits and pieces that I saw from pictures of me there.  We walked the land with the gentleman as he told us the story of how my grandparents came there.  They originally lived in a old train car...my grandfather picking up stones to prepare the farm for farming...only to discover more stones.  They finally gave up on the idea of farming and decided to raise cows.  It had become a dairy. We entered the barn and there was something so familiar about it...I quickly remembered a picture of me in a babushka (a woolen scarf) on my head and I was in a sweater in that barn with an armful of hay feeding the cows.  My daughters, who were about 12 and 13 picked up some hay and began to feed the cows and it was like dejavu.  Then, suddenly, one of the cows licked one of my daughters faces...she was so shocked and till this day we still talk about it. 
There I was, finding my roots. then the gentleman said I might want to go to the next farm over.  When asked why, he informed us that my grandmother's brother lived on that farm.  He was my Great Uncle!  A REAL piece of my other half...we ventured over and once again I rang a doorbell into my past.  We were greeted with open arms.  I was shown pictures, got an earful of stories about my grandparents and the whole time they spoke it was as though I could feel a part of me being awakened.  There I was...with family...a family I never knew existed and finding out about who I was.  Questions that in the past had raised their ugly heads like "where did that come from"?  were now being answered.  
What a journey...not only on land but also emotionally.  There are still questions that I have today and unfortunately, they will never have an answer, but I am so grateful to have some of the pieces to the puzzle.  
As a child, I was always told I was too bold for my own good....maybe it was my boldness that enabled me to search out the truth...and that WAS for my own good after all.   

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