Bill was adopted when his biological mother died two days after he was born almost two months early. His suddenly single father had a 2-year-old to care for and couldn’t handle a premature infant, so John and Kay, who were friends of the family and childless, asked to adopt him. Bill always knew he was adopted and that he had an older brother but never knew where he was or even his name. And then along came Ancestry.
In 2017, I got him a DNA kit for his 68th birthday and eventually he agreed to spit into the vile and sent it off for analysis. Once it was processed, he learned he was not primarily Polish, as he’d always believed, but Slovakian. And then the fun really began.
Over the first half of 2018 he began discovering cousins and aunts and uncles and more cousins. Or so he thought. One inquiry from Tom, a first-cousin match, resulted in private emails going back and forth and, lo and behold, they weren’t cousins at all, but half-brothers! And in July, through this connection, Bill discovered his long-lost big brother, Jack.
After many emails between Jack and his wife Terry in Iowa and us here in Arizona, we set a date and a mid-point to get together and on May 13, 2019, Bill and Jack met for the first time in 70 years in Colorado.
They both admitted to being extremely nervous and neither knew what they would say or should say to each other or if they’d get along or even have anything in common. But once they met face-to-face it didn’t matter anymore.
As Terry and I held our breath and held back tears, Bill and Jack stood face-to-face in the parking lot of the VRBO condo we’d rented for the week. They stared at each other for a brief moment and Bill whispered, “Hi big brother,” and then they embraced. They both had tears in their eyes, they never stopped talking for four days, and they’re so much alike it’s scary.
The four of us became family instantly and we can’t wait to get together again. Maybe next Groundhog Day since Bill and Jack were both born in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania!
Jack and Bill
Mom passed away peacefully in her sleep last night. Because the stories, and the journey they chronicled, were written lightheartedly, with humor and laughter being the end goal, Bill and I composed, this, Mom’s unofficial obituary to reflect the craziness that passed for our lives during the last 7 years. Thank you, all my loyal followers, for sharing this time with me and Bill and especially Mom.
Mrs. Elaine… passed quietly into the night on September 5, 2016. She was married to John the Nazi for 22 not-so-fun-filled years until she decided that he’d gone bad and sent him back to his daughter.
She is survived by her three children, Patty, Jimmy and the one who never calls; by four grandchildren, Patty’s son Ryan and her daughter – whose either Dana or Amber, and Jimmy’s two girls, whose names she can’t remember but they live in Michigan except one of them moved, maybe to Boston or Ohio or someplace where it gets cold and is dangerous so she should not go out alone at night. She was also a great-grandmother of four. She didn’t know which kids belong to who, but she knew who they were – the older girl, that other boy, the little wild girl and the new one who might be a girl but is probably a boy.
She spent her last few years happily perched on her beloved loveseat where she carried on long and fulfilling relationships with Drew Carey, Tom Bergeron and Alex Trebeck. She’ll miss them.
She will be remembered fondly and thought of often. Good night Mom.
“Would you like a half of a turkey sandwich?” I yell to Mom from the kitchen as I dragged out plates and sandwich ingredients from the frig.
“Sure,” she called back. “Are you cutting it?”
“Cutting what? The turkey?”
“No, the bread.”
I paused next to the kitchen counter, juggling a package of turkey slices, another of Smoked Gouda slices, a jar of mayonnaise, a head of lettuce and a loaf of 12-grain bread. “The bread?” I asked loudly.
“Yes, are you cutting it or getting it?”
I dumped the lunch makings onto the counter and walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. “What do you mean am I cutting it. It’s bread.”
“But the last time you made me a sandwich, you cut it too thick and I could hardly bite down on it,” she explained, opening her mouth wide, then loudly chomping her teeth together three or four times for emphasis.
“Mom,” I sighed, “it’s just a loaf from the store. It’s already sliced.”
“Oh, okay. Then it must have been a different loaf the last time. It was almost too fat to eat.”
“It’s the same bread we always get,” I said, turning to go back into the kitchen.
“Then you probably got a mistake.”
“A mistake?” I asked, pausing in the kitchen doorway. “What do you mean, a mistake?”
“You know, a mistake. Like the checker people didn’t check close enough and fat slices got put in the package.”
“Yup, that must be it,” I laughed. “Those damn checker people. And I’ll bet they probably want $15 an hour too, just like the McDonald’s people.”
“Well that’s not right. If they aren’t smart enough to know a fat slice of bread from a skinny one, then they don’t deserve a raise.”
After cleaning the house on Sunday, I was in the shower and Bill was patiently waiting his turn while he sat in the office playing Solitaire on his computer.
As I lathered up, I thought I heard the distinctive sound of the Red Menace coming out of Mom’s bedroom, which meant she was up from her first nap of the day. I quickly rinsed off as I listened to her motoring down the hall toward the living room and, I presumed, into the Arizona room where I knew she’d be looking for me.
I squirted out a blob of shampoo and prepared to wash my hair, but stopped when I heard her returning up the hall. I mentally braced myself, waiting for her to bump the door open to see if I was in the bathroom, but instead she stopped just short of the bathroom at the office door.
“Where are the women?” I heard her say to Bill.
“Women? What women?” he responded.
“You know, the women. Where’d they go?”
“I don’t know,” he stuttered. “In the bathroom maybe?”
“What in the world would they both be doing in there?” she asked sharply.
“Taking a shower?” he offered lamely.
“Well that’s just not right,” she huffed. “I never took a shower with Shirley in my whole life and she’s my sister. That’s just not right.”
“Okay then,” he replied, still sounding somewhat befuddled, “if they’re not in the bathroom, I don’t know where they are.”
This was met with an abrupt harrumph, followed quickly by her rolling away, back down the hall toward the living room once again. Thinking that was the end of it, I quickly shampooed my hair, rinsed and turned off the water.
And then I heard the Red Menace returning up the hall.
“Crap,” I muttered to myself. I grabbed my bath towel, wrapped it snuggly around myself and stepped out of the shower onto the bath rug just as she slammed into the door with the wheelchair. I stepped quickly out of the way as the door stop slammed into the wall and the door ricocheted back toward the door frame.
“Oh, there you are,” she said brightly, ignoring the paint chips that snowed off the front of the door onto the floor as she backed up. “I was just coming to tell him that you and Bill went for a walk.”
“Him?” I asked, wiping water out of my eyes.
“You know, him, in there,” she said, indicating the office with a left jerk of her head. “Anyway, never mind, I guess you didn’t go.”
“Nope. Just trying to take a shower,” I sighed.
“Okay then, I guess I’m going to lay down for a while,” she replied.
“Didn’t you just get up?”
“Yes, but I was just resting my eyes. This time I’ll probably rest more than that.” And with that she performed a perfect U-turn, then hung a left into her bedroom just as Bill poked his head out of the office doorway.
“Is it safe to get in the shower,” he whispered.
“I guess it is, as long as Shirley isn’t in there with you,” I laughed.
I was showing Mom a couple of choices of frozen meals for dinner: oven-roasted turkey with red mashed potatoes or Angel Hair Pasta Prima Vera. “Do either one of these trip your trigger?” I asked after, what seemed like, two or three minutes of her staring at the labels.
“I’m just not sure,” she said, switching her attention back and forth between the two boxes.
“Mom, my fingers are starting to go numb,” I commented, trying to evoke a decision. “So if you don’t like either of these, I’ll go get a couple more out of the freezer.”
“Well, I’m just not sure. I’m not too crazy about the mashed potatoes.”
“Oh, and why don’t you like mashed potatoes anymore?”
“Because they taste too potatoey.”
“Okey dokey, that make absolutely no sense. But what about the Angel Hair pasta?”
“I really don’t think I’d like it very much.”
“No? Why not?”
“Because I don’t imagine food made out of some kind of hair would be very good. Angle hair? What is that, some kind of cat?
“It’s pasta, Mom. It’s made out of flour and water and salt, not cat hair! And its angel not angle.”
“Whatever. Besides, that’s like the food they make out of old thread. That’s probably pretty bad too.”
“Old thread? What on earth are you talking about?”
“You know, that stuff in Chinese food. Sewing beans. I swear to God, they’ll eat anything.”
“They? Do you mean Chinese people?”
“No, not them. Those hippies that like to eat with shop sticks because they think they can. But all they do is spill rice and sewing beans all over the tablecloth.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked in frustration as I shifted my grip on the boxes to avoid frostbite. “What hippies?”
“The ones on the TV this morning on some show. They were talking about healthy food and stuff and eating with shop sticks. They looked like idiots.”
“Okay then,” I sighed, trying to get the dinner planning back on track. “I’ll get a couple more meals for you to look at. But, just so you know, Angel Hair pasta isn’t made out of hair. It’s regular pasta but really thin, you know, kind of like hair.”
“Oh, well that makes more sense I guess. I’ll try that one but I think they should change the name to something better. Maybe Not Hairy Pasta.”
“I’ll pass that on to the Lean Cuisine people next time I see them,” I called over my shoulder as I escaped back into the kitchen.