Let me start this off by saying, I'M NO WRITER. I've never liked writing, and I can't say I've ever been any good at it. I write well enough to prepare reports for work, but that's about the extent of it. I've always loved reading and admired those who can write. But I'M NO WRITER. Me? I'm just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary story to tell. A story that to me is so incredible I feel it must be shared.
What started out as a pretty normal morning for me ended up changing my life and the lives of many others forever.
As I was lying in bed watching CNN, as I so often do before falling asleep, there was a brief story of the most popular searched for items on the WWW. It seems a little bit strange to me that I'd been online for over five years and had never done the most popular search. What was it? People searching their own name! Never had it occurred to me to do a search on my self. It seemed a bit narcissistic to me at first. I'm just an ordinary guy with an ordinary life; I'm no one special. However, curiosity got the best of me and I decided to give it a try. What would a search engine reveal about little ole me? Nothing to show, nothing to tell was what I thought. But here goes nothing I thought as I typed in my name. Expecting to see something along the lines of "Your Search Turned up 0 results", I was quite surprised when the page opened up and low and behold there were a several results. Intrigued and slightly excited I clicked on the first link.
Little did I know at the time that one little push of a button would put into motion a sequence of events unlike any others I'd ever even hoped to experience in my lifetime. The link was for a site "Searching for siblings". Siblings? Why would my name show up in such a place? I knew from the time I was old enough to understand the concept of "adoption" that I was in fact adopted. My parents never hid or attempted to hide that fact from me. In fact they told me quite a few things about my birth mother and their relationship with her.
Some of these "facts" turned out many years later to be not so factual. However, I hold no ill feelings. I know the facts can sometimes be subjective memories and we all fall into this at some time in our lives. I was raised as an only child all my life, the concept of possibly having siblings was something very foreign to me and I KNEW there must be some kind of mistake. How wrong I was! As I read the entry I could feel the excitement start to swell within me.
There in plain print was the name of my birth mother and then there was my name. Wow, I thought as I read on. I looked at the poster's name and said to myself. I HAVE A BROTHER, and he's looking for me! Gene is looking for me, I have to find my brother. With my mind reeling, I sent an email, through the site and waited on pins and needles for a response. One day went by, then another and another. What had been joy and excitement were now replaced with anxiety and hopelessness. What else can I do, I thought to myself? Then it hit me, register on the site yourself. So that's what I did. I then sent myself an email through the site to see if everything was in working order.
Days went by and I didn't receive the email. Great, I thought, the site is dead. How will I ever find my brother now? I'd remembered how excited I was telling my wife that I had a brother and that he was trying to find me. That was no longer the case. The excitement had died and was replaced by disappointment and frustration, but I was determined to find him. How, I didn't know, but I knew I had to. I'd never felt like my life was incomplete, but now knowing I had a brother out there in the world somewhere, I felt as if there was a piece of me missing. A piece I had to try my best to find.
I can remember the phone ringing and I thought to myself, I don't really feel like talking to anyone right now, if it's important, they'll leave a message and I'll check it later. A few hours went by and I decided I'd check to see who called. What I heard made me light up like a young child's face at their first sight of a department store Santa Claus.
"Hi my name is Gene and I'm looking for my birth sibling Edwin, if this is the wrong number I apologize, if it is the right number please call me back" and SHE left her number. Gene was NOT my brother but my sister. I felt a few tears well up inside me, but fought them back. I couldn't hang up the phone and dial her number fast enough. As her phone rang my mind was flooded with all kinds of thoughts and questions. Then I listened as the message on her answering machine came on.
Damn, I thought, I'll have to wait a little while longer. I left her a message assuring her that she had indeed found the right person. In the mean time, I called my wife and work and told her what happened. While talking to her, the other line beeped in, so I told her I'd talk to her later, it might be my sister. Sure enough it was! Neither of us could believe what was happening and that we were actually speaking to each other. She informed me that she had been searching for me for a few months, ever since she'd found some papers in her adopted mother's home.
She had placed her mother in a nursing home and came across the papers while cleaning out her house. And thus began her quest to find out who she was and where she came from. Her search eventually led her to me and another sister, whom she had also found just the day before. We talked for what seemed like hours, sharing stories of our childhood, what we knew about our birth mother and the stories we were told about her. We had much the same story. Sofie had worked for our adopted parents as a housekeeper. Both of our adoptive parents were Americans in the military serving in Europe, hers in Germany, and mine in France. Neither of the adoptive mothers were able to have children themselves. It seemed Gene and I shared more than just the same genes. We shared our thoughts and feelings about being bi-racial children raised in all black communities in the 60's. The world wasn't quite colorblind back then. We endured much the same taunts, humiliations and jokes at our expense.
Let me say now, that my family never ever never treated me as anything but family. In fact some of my cousins didn't know I was adopted. They just thought I was a little on the light side. OK, a lot on the light side. So I grew up with a loving family from my parents, to aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Never was I treated any differently. In fact, I had one cousin would be ready to fight at the drop of a hat if anyone questioned my skin color and whether or not we were related. God rest his soul, I really miss him.
After we bonded on the phone she told me that she had also found Mary, one of our sisters. One of our sisters, I thought. How many of us are there? She told me that she wasn't sure how many total, but that in her search she'd also found that we had a brother who was raised in an orphanage in Germany. She and Mary had also been born in Germany. I told her that I was born in France. It seemed that Sofie traveled quite a bit, among other things. I asked her for Mary's phone number so that I could talk to her as well. I called Mary and we talked for what also seemed like hours. She told me that she had been placed in a German orphanage and had been adopted by an American family and brought to the United States when she was about two years old and that she was having a hard time digesting all of this new information about having siblings. As it turned out all three of us were AOL subscribers, so we began sending pictures and instant messages. Trying to catch up on over forty years of each other's lives was a daunting task, but we all dove in and shared as much of our lives as we could.
After a few weeks when some of the excitement died down a little, we decided we would try to find our mother. We had no idea where to begin. Had she remained in France where I was born, had she returned to Germany, had she married an American soldier and come to the United States? How and where do we start? Would she be married now? If so, what is her new last name? We had more questions than answers. Would we hire a detective to do all the dirty work? None of us being rich, this last option ended up not being an option at all. So we all began our own methods of searching and keeping the others updated on what we "didn't" find for couple months.
As I was eating my lunch at work one night, I decided to do a search on our last name, as I had been doing everyday for weeks now. I thought perhaps something new might pop up. I told myself that anyway. I secretly had feelings that we'd never find her and as each lead turned into a dead-end, I'd thought of giving up entirely. However, some little voice inside my head said to try again anyway. As I scrolled down, there was a new entry. It seemed that Bell County Texas was in the process of putting their public records online. I'd found a new lead! Being at work, the firewall would not let me access the site, so I emailed myself a copy of the link to my home email.
I was exhausted when I got home from work the next morning and decided to go right to sleep. I usually check my email upon returning home, but not this morning. I figured that since I was off tonight, I'd have time to check later.
After I awakened and went about my normal routine for the day and evening, and got the kids to bed, I decided to log on. I remembered I'd sent myself the link and went straight to the site. After navigating around the site for a while I finally found something. There it was, a marriage record for an Elisa Bedburdick. Not who I was looking for, but with a name as rare as this, I knew she had to know something.
I began other searches for her name and came up empty, yet again. Depression was starting to set in, not deep clinical depression, just the type when you continually try at something and fail. I was tired of running into walls and dead ends.
About two in the morning it occurred to me to try a search for her husband. I started looking for anything I could find under his name. I was able to find out that he was in the Army and he was on the promotion list, but not much more. So I tried what I thought to be a long shot, I typed in his name into the U.S. white pages. Thinking I'd get a list a mile long all over the country, I was quite shocked at what I found. There was only one listing in the whole United States for his name. This couldn't be right, can't be true, I told myself. Then I thought, well it could be, he is in the Army and they do have a base here in town. But the address was only eight miles from my house. This is too good to be true. Then I thought about all my previous failures and convinced myself that he was no longer married to her, had lost contact with her and had no idea where she was.
But I thought it was worth a shot anyway, besides, I'm a Vet and he's a soldier, there had to be some type of bond, and he'd help me out if he could. I didn't sleep that night, I couldn't. I went over and over in my head what I'd say to him.
Finally the sun rose and I decided that I'd waited long enough, I'd take a shower, get dressed and go over to his house to talk to him. As I drove there, again all the negative thoughts filled my head, but I was going to go anyway. As I pulled up to the house I noticed that there wasn't a car parked in front. But I plunged ahead and headed to the front door. I made little mental notes of things I saw, things hanging in the windows and on the door. They look like they could be German, I thought to myself as I waited for the door to open. But the door never opened. As I turned to walk back to my car, I thought I saw a curtain move out of the side of my eye, but quickly dismissed it. I drove home, dejected and tired from being up all night. But I knew I wouldn't give up just yet. I had to talk to somebody in that house.
I decided that I needed a nap-some rest; I had to give my brain a rest. I woke up around noon. Well let's give it another shot, I thought. I looked up the phone number I'd found to go along with the address and decided I'd try calling. The phone rang and a woman's voice answered. Hesitantly I asked if this was the Deager residence. She replied "yes". I then said to her "I know this is going to sound like a strange question, but is your maiden name Bedburdick? The reason I'm asking is because, my name is Edwin Bedburdick and I'm trying to find my birth mother named Sofie Bedburdick." There was a short silence, which seemed like an eternity to me, but I'm sure it was only a second or two. Then she replied, "Honey, that's my sister, I'm your auntie".
To this day, I am not able to put into words the emotions that filled me and I don't think I ever will.. But the tears started flowing and I didn't think they'd ever stop. I'd found her! I'd found her! To this day I still get just as choked up every time I tell this part of the story and I'm forced to wipe away a tear or two.
Aunt Liz told me she'd just placed my mother in a nursing home in Texas two weeks ago, and that they were looking at a picture my mother still had of me. She said she told her, "You know, one day with the internet one of your kids may find you". Truer words had never been spoken. Liz said she'd been home when I rang her bell earlier that day, and that she looked at me out of the upstairs window, but not knowing who I was, she didn't open the door. I asked her if she'd open the door for me now, because I'd be there in about fifteen minutes. I just had to see her, touch her, and talk to her. She graciously turned me down, she had plans and her house wasn't clean, I couldn't come today. I was NOT accepting that for an answer. Not today, not now. I'd worked too hard suffered too many disappointments not to talk to my mother TODAY.
I eventually talked her into letting me come by for a few minutes. She told me that she had to call my mother and prepare her for what was about to take place. The reason she was now in a nursing home was that her heart was only working at twenty percent of its capacity. She didn't want me to call her out of the blue and give her a heart attack. She called her during my drive back to her house, and told her what had just transpired. When I reached the door she met me with a warm but reserved hug. We talked for a few minutes about how and why my mother had given up her children and she told me that I had two younger brothers who were living with my mother up until she went in the nursing home.
Wow, I thought, I'm someone's big brother. Never thought I'd hear myself say that, and especially not after being an only child for 42 forty-two years. But then I thought, well I'm Gene and Mary's younger brother, so why can't I be their big brother.
Finally we decided it was time to make "the call". As Aunt Liz dialed, I was full of anticipation and so many emotions that I'd never experienced at this level before, I was shaking. "He's right here" I heard Aunt Liz say. "Are you ready?" Was I ready? I'd never been more ready for anything in my life. I took the phone from her hand and placed it to my head. Five million thoughts ran thru my head in the second it took me to say "hello". I was actually saying hello to someone I thought I'd never see or hear from in my entire life, someone I'd been searching for so diligently for the past few months. Not just someone, My Mother, the woman who gave me life. I don't much remember the start of the conversation; I just know I could feel the mutual excitement and love over the phone. We were back together again, almost, after over 40 years. I still needed to see and touch her for it to be real for me. I told her about Gene and Mary and I finding each other and being in touch. She started crying and said, "I can die happy now, I know my babies are ok". "Like hell you can" I replied. "You can't die anytime soon".
I told her I'd be down to see her in the next two weeks. She then asked me if I wanted to talk to my brother Danny. Of course I did, did she really need to ask.
I did have some apprehensions, how did he feel about having newfound siblings? What had she told him over the years? How was he taking this newfound life changing news? Would he be upset with her? Turns out he was just as excited and happy as I was. He asked me what kind of sports I liked and told me he raced motocross bikes and that Mathias (Teddy) was a professional boxer at one time. I knew it, I thought to myself. During my searching I'd come upon some sites for boxing, which had the name Mathias Bedburdick. I just knew he had to be related. My sisters had come across the same information, but none of us were ever able to contact him. I'd even tried calling local boxing gyms to see if I could find someone who knew him. Another past failure, but those were all behind me now. Nothing but blue skies were ahead of me.
After our phone call ended, Liz and I sat talking for a while before she had to leave for her appointment. I couldn't wait to get home and call my sisters and let them know that I'd found herI've found our mother, oh yeah, and an Aunt. Not that I wasn't excited to find out about having a new Aunt, but that somehow paled in comparison to finding the woman who brought me into this world.
I made a 3-way call so that I could tell them both at the same time, but as luck would have it one of them wasn't home. I spoke to Mary's husband and told him the news and to have Mary call me ASAP. He told me NO, that this was something she needed to hear from me personally and right now, and he gave me her cell phone number. Gene and Mary had a million questions for me as I told them the story of my last 24 hours. "What did she sound like?" "How did she take it?" "Did you tell her about us?" I gave them her number and told them to find out for themselves.
A few hours later we all got back together again on the phone and began making plans to go to Texas and see MOM. The next couple of weeks blurred together into something I'm still at a loss to describe. I can remember one conversation that I had with Mary during that time. She confided in me that she was a bit afraid and wasn't sure what to feel. She really loved her adopted parents and felt as if she might be betraying them if she loved Sofie too. I couldn't understand this because her parents were paying for her trip and insisted that she go. Mary provided me at that time the opportunity to give my first ever brotherly advice. Let me add here that Mary has 6 children. I asked her if she had to give up or love one child less when she gave birth to another one. This simple, as I saw it, little sentence seemed to put it all in to perspective for her. She thanked me profusely and I puffed out my chest like I had just beaten up the neighborhood bully protecting my sister. Or more like I imagined what it would have been like. I was starting to like this brother stuff.
After we'd all made our travel arrangements, I contacted local television and newspapers to try to explain to them what was about to occur, but was given what I consider a cold shoulder. I then contacted the local newspaper in Texas and eventually found one that thought it would make and interesting story and they assured me they would have someone cover our reunion. I'd began to think that my sisters and I were the only ones who thought the story was the least bit amazing, but as I shared my story with friends and co-workers, they all suggested I contact Oprah, Maury and Montel. I did, but not one of them ever responded. That's ok, I thought, its important and amazing to us, so that's all that's important.
Over Forty years and three countries later, here we were about to be together. My mother and her children reunited and my siblings and I meeting each other for the first time. This is the stuff movies are made of, was my thought. In fact for the next two weeks I found myself just walking around and saying "wow" out loud. Anytime someone would overhear me saying wow to myself, they'd ask what I was wowing about. Believe you me, I was more than happy to share the details of why I was in the WOW state. Each time I told my story, they could say nothing but wow, along with me.
I had to get the time off from work, but I was pretty sure after telling my boss about what had just happened, that wouldn't be a problem. I'd decided to drive the 900 miles to Copperas Cove Texas. It would give me some time to think and sort out some things. I was to continue past Copperas Cove to Austin to pick up Mary at the airport and then return to Copperas Cove for our reunion. That wasn't to happen.
After driving for eighteen hours straight on nothing but coffee and Newports, I was exhausted by the time I reached Copperas Cove and couldn't continue on to Austin. Somewhere along my trip, my cell phone car charger had died and I had no way to call anyone. My phone was dead and all the numbers were in my phone. Not knowing what else to do, and not able to think clearly, I searched out the nursing home my mother was in and drove there. As I walked down the hall to where her room was located, I felt bad, because my sisters and I had agreed to meet her all together for the first time. As luck would have it, the door to her room was closed. A nurse came out of her room and asked if I was one of Sofie's children and told me they were getting her "dolled up" before the event. I noticed an electrical outlet in the hallway, where I plugged up my phone and began making some calls. I called my wife to tell her I had arrived safely, tired, but none the worse for wear. I then tried to call Mary who must have still been airborne. So I tried Gene next.
Gene had already arrived in town and she gave me directions to the hotel she was staying in. I asked her if she had heard from Mary, I wasn't sure if her plane had landed yet, but I wouldn't be there on time to meet her. I'd almost passed out while driving earlier and wasn't really keen on trying to continue to drive another two or three hours.
Gene told me that her daughter, my niece, was there and that she would drive to Austin to pick up Mary from the airport. I was so relieved. As fate would have it, the door to my mother's room didn't open again while I was there in the hallway. I went to Gene's hotel and finally met in person the woman who got this whole thing started by finding Mary and me. We hugged and kissed like we'd known each other all of our lives. As I rested on the bed we talked and shared stories and of course pictures.
We both had tons of pictures. After all, we only had forty years to catch up on. Finally Gene's daughter Raquel arrived back at the hotel with Mary. We saw them parking from the window and decided to meet them out in the hallway, cameras in hand. Mary wasn't too thrilled about the cameras after having been traveling for eight hours, but I wasn't the freshest rose in the garden after my eighteen-hour drive. So we all freshened up a bit and called our brothers. Wow, there's that word again. They would be at the nursing home in half an hour. We couldn't wait that long so we took off from the hotel and traveled the 3 miles to the nursing home.
As we walked in the front door, the staff was expecting us. They'd heard the story and had prepared a private conference room with refreshments for us. The Chaplin met us at the front desk and escorted us to the room. He shared in our excitement and told us the whole nursing home had been in a buzz all day. Gene, Mary and I all stuck our head in the door at the same time and said "Hi Mom" much like a professional athlete does in a TV camera. As we saw our mother sitting there it all became real to me at last. She sat there looking a bit afraid at first.
She'd confessed to the newspaper reporter who was already there, that she didn't know what to think, what we thought about her for giving us all up for adoption. But when she heard the "hi mom" and saw our faces, all her doubts and fears were put to rest. We all hugged her and a sense of relief could be seen across her worn face. The cameras came out in mass. As I was standing behind my mother, my brothers entered the room. One look at Teddy and there was no doubt in my or anyone else's mind that I was indeed a "brother". If it weren't for the fourteen-month difference in our ages, you'd think we were twins. Ok, I must confess, there's the few inches height difference too. We both looked at each other in awe for a few seconds. Danny then said, yep, that's my brother. Everyone in the room was amazed at the resemblance.
The next few hours were filled with stories and questions, and of course pictures. "So that's where I get that from" could be heard from all of us as we shared our little quirks both physical and otherwise. Did I forget to mention the hugs? Oh the hugs! There is nothing like feeling a hug of genuine caring and love. I'll never forget the hugs. As we shared the next few hours together I kept pinching myself. It was finally happening, it's finally real.
The reporter had called me at home the day before I left and asked me some questions for her article. I remember telling her that as excited as I was about the impending meeting, it was still all surreal for me. That it wouldn't be real until I could see and touch my mother. She came up beside me and whispered in my ear, "is it real for you now". Yes it's very real, unbelievable but very real.
After a few hours we were all worn out from not only the journey we'd all made but I think we were all emotionally spent as well. As much as we hated to leave, we all had to. I realized, I'd never checked into my hotel and hoped they still had my room available. After going to check into the hotel, Gene, Raquel, Mary and I went out to dinner. Teddy and Danny went home to start preparing for the "Texas Bar B Que" they'd promised me.
The next morning I awakened early and ran down to the hotel lobby to see if they had today's newspaper. I had to see the article. No papers. There was a little convenience store right next door that was just opening up. In fact the newspapers were on the ground by the door. I told the store clerk that I'd carry the papers in for him. I ripped one from the stack and started searching franticly for the story. Finally, there it was, with a picture of Gene, Mary, MOM and me.
I stood there reading the article totally forgetting to pay for the paper. I purchased a few other items and all of the newspapers with the exception of one, which the store clerk begged me to leave. I started driving around town trying to buy all the newspapers I could find. I couldn't find any stores open.
I went back to my room and stored my newspapers. I'd agreed to make something for the Bar B Que, so I went to Walmart, which just happened to be right next to the hotel Gene was staying at. I purchased the items I needed to make my world famous Pasta Seafood salad and began the drive to my mother's/brother's house. I got lost along the way. The night before, I'd ridden with them from the nursing home to the house to get some picture albums, so I thought I knew how to get there. Boy was I wrong, I got very lost. But it did afford me the opportunity to run into a lot of places to buy newspapers, lots of newspapers.
I asked for directions in a couple stores but no one could help me. The third store I stopped in to buy papers turned out to be the lucky one. One of the clerks pulled out a map and gave me perfect directions. The other clerk and some people in line asked why I was buying so many newspapers? Was I trying to hide some bad news from somebody? I laughed and told them about the article in the paper. Again, a clerk asked me to at least leave one paper. Again I agreed.
I finally found my way to the house. As I pulled up to the house, so did my brother Teddy. He asked me if I had stopped at this certain store, which I had. He told me the clerk was a friend of his and that she read the article then called him to make sure I found the house okay. I liked the Texas people in spite of what I'd heard about them.
Teddy went to the nursing home and got mom an brought her to the house. We spent the rest of the day much like the night before, telling stories and taking pictures. Then came Sunday, the day we all had to return home. It was hard for me to think of leaving so soon, but I had to get back. I must admit I didn't relish the thought of the seventeen-hour drive back home alone. I'd save an hour because of the time difference, yippee.
I drove to Gene's hotel and saw her and Raquel off. Mary and I then went to the nursing home to spend some more time with mom. Danny had agreed to drive Mary to the airport in Austin, so I drove her to the house to meet him.
After they left I returned to the nursing home by myself to spend some more time with mom. I was putting off leaving as long as I could. As we sat on the side of her bed and talked, I felt that special thing that I'm sure all mothers have. What's that you ask. That is the ability to make you feel like you are the most important thing in her life, her favorite child, even though there may be many children. That feeling sustained me on my long drive home.
A few days later I received a call from Gene, she had more news. She'd told me of another sibling that she "almost" found a few months before. She had a phone number but the number had been disconnected. She'd found this sister's adoptive parents, one of whom had recently died. She even had the obituary from the newspaper. Something made her call the number again when we returned from Texas. She got an answer. She explained to the person that answered the phone the whole story of the previous few months and found out she'd found the right person. It was the sister of the sister we were searching for.
She told Gene that she'd relay the story and let her decide if she wanted to contact any of us. A day later Gene received a call from Fatimah, she'd changed her name many years before, which probably didn't help with the search for her. She, like Mary was a bit apprehensive at first and didn't want to talk to Sofie. Again I had the brotherly advice thing happen and talked her into at least calling her and listening to her side of the story. I know as an adopted child you create all kinds of stories and scenarios in your mind about all the whys and wherefores of why you were given up, and that there are times when you feel resentful. She called Sofie and they made their peace with each other, whatever that means to each of them.
Over the next couple of months Sofie became more and more ill and was in and out of the hospital several times before passing on to her final reward. We talked on the phone frequently before she passed. I made plans to bring my wife and children down in May, but May never came for her. This is one of the regrets I'll have the rest of my life. My children never got to meet Uma. Uma is German for grandmother. I made the long lonely drive to Texas once again to attend her funeral. Fatimah and her husband came for the funeral. I guess they made some connection before Sofie passed on. Gene and Raquel made the trip to pay their last respects as well.
At first I felt somewhat cheated by life once again; to lose her so soon after I'd just found her. But I consoled myself by saying some time was better than no time at all. After all, we'd really connected in the few short months we had together. Not enough to fill a lifetime, but enough to last a lifetime. I know she died happy. I'm sure although she may have hoped that somehow someway in her lifetime she'd see the children she was forced to give up as babies, once again, she never thought it would really happen. I thought back to our first conversation when she told me she could die happy. I remembered the last time we saw each other. We were sitting on the bed in her room at the nursing home, just the two of us. The way she made me feel special with just a hug and a look. As much joy as these thoughts and memories brought me, still I cried. I was truly going to miss that.
I didn't stay at a hotel this trip; I stayed at the house with my brothers. I spent four days there. We got a chance to bond and know each other a little better in that time. I'm sure she would have wanted it that way. They told me stories of what it was like growing up with her, what kind of person she was. The good, the bad and the ugly. I still had questions for her, questions that must remain unanswered.
You know it's amazing sometimes the things you remember. I suddenly remembered a conversation that my Godmother and my adopted mother had one time when I was in grade school. I couldn't have been anymore than seven or eight, I heard my Godmother say "I should have gotten Teddy, which seemed really strange to me since she already had a son named Teddy. When I asked about this I was quickly shooed away and told to stay out of grown folks conversations. I never gave it another thought until some Teddy.
When that light bulb went off in my head I wanted to ask my mother why she gave me up and not Teddy. I wanted to in my head but not in my heart. I didn't want to put her on the spot thirty odd years later. They were talking about my brother to have to answer that. I didn't want to dredge up any old and painful memories for her. I can only imagine what is must be like to have to decide between two children which one stays and which one goes. I have two children myself and I can't fathom having to make such a decision. So I never asked her. But now that she was gone, I wanted an answer. We always want what we can't have.
I asked Teddy what his oldest childhood memories were, in hopes of finding out what, I don't know. This really weighed on my mind on the drive back home thru dark lonely stretches of highway. Somewhere in New Mexico I came to the realization that I would not be who and what I am now if things had been different then. I wouldn't have had all the experiences that made me who I am now, good and bad. I wouldn't have the lovely wife and beautiful children I do. So I made peace with myself and with her, although she'll never know it, at least not until we meet again beyond the pearly gates.
But the story doesn't end there. Oh no, more was yet to come. About a year and a half later I was online when I got an instant message from Mary. She told me she received a strange email and she wasn't sure what to think about it. Again, here she was making me feel like a good brother by seeking my advice. So she told me the email was from someone in Germany claiming to know of another of our siblings, but she was very skeptical about it. So I had her forward it to me. I verified that the email address was from Germany and read the letter closely. I believed it to be authentic so I responded to it. The letter stated that the writer was a good friend of Yvonne and she wanted to do something special for her, so she was searching for her family. Yvonne had been raised in a German orphanage and when she turned eighteen and was released from the orphanage, she was given a letter containing her mother's name and place of birth, but that was about all. Through trial and error she had come upon Mary's email address and wanted to know if she'd found the right person.
She said that she knew there were two brothers that Sofie kept and raised, but she was unsure of any other siblings. I was once again in the WOW state. So I wrote back and told her that not only did she find the right person she was looking for, she got the bonus plan. There were other siblings of which I was one. My sister Yvonne doesn't speak any English, so her friend was our go between for the next few weeks. We sent pictures and told her of meeting Sofie and of Sofie's death. We kept in close touch for the next few months. Now there were seven of us.
Gene believed all along that there were more siblings but the rest of us dismissed it. She was right though. She was to be right again soon. As I said earlier, the oldest of us was a male raised in a German orphanage. Gene exhausted all her German contacts and was unable to find him.until. One day she received a phone call. It was William Moritz, our oldest brother calling from Germany. The Red Cross had finally located him some 2 to 3 years after Gene first contacted them. It seems he had taken his wife's last name when he married. It must be some strange German custom. But the Red Cross eventually found him and told him that Gene was looking for him. She wasn't at home when he called, so he left a message. She called me and told me about the message and let me listen to it. He spoke broken English but well enough to be understood.
I called him the next day, forgetting about the time difference, it was 11 o'clock at night there. I apologized for waking him and offered to call back later, but he wouldn't hear of it. He cleared his head and we quickly began talking. He told me how happy and excited he was to know he had siblings and that they cared enough to find him. He said that he'd always felt alone in the world and he no longer felt that way. He searched for some words in English and was able to come up with the right words in spite of having had a brain tumor removed and having to learn to speak and walk again just a few years earlier. He hadn't spoken English in years, but was quite fluent as far as I was concerned. His English was a lot better than my non-existent German, thank God.
He told me that he'd been to the United States once to visit an ex roommate of his in Chicago. And that he couldn't wait to come back to America now that he knew of all his brothers and sisters. He said he couldn't wait to go out the next day and get an ISP provider so that we could email each other. A week later we were online exchanging pictures of our children and his grandchildren.
Now there are 8 of us. But like the title of an old television show "eight is not enough" at least not for Gene. She still thinks there are more out there, a set of twins to be exact. I'm not sure I believe as she does, but I do not doubt that woman. She has a tireless dogged determination, and if there are more siblings out there, she'll find them. Me, I'm just happy enjoying the ones I have now.
So that's my story. That's how a dream I never had came true. A dream too unbelievable to think would ever come true. So now I have another dream, I dream of winning the lottery. I know everyone does, but I have a dream of what to do with some of the money. I'd like to get all of us together. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews, grandchildren all of us together in one place at one time. I'd like to be able to fly everyone in and rent a whole floor of a very nice hotel and just be a great big happy family. I know dreams do come true, even those you don't have.
God is still in the miracle business and if you don't believe He is, go back and start reading this story over again, you missed it.