When my grandmother was 17, she got pregnant and was forced to give that baby up for adoption. For years she didn't tell a soul; not her friends, not her children, and not even her husband. It wasn't until those closest to her noticed that once a year, she would lose herself. The pain of having her baby taken from her consumed her, and on every birthday of that baby, that pain became unbearable. Had she made the right decision? Did the baby have a good life? What was she like? As the years went on, she built her family having her three kids and nine grandchildren, but part of her always felt that missing piece of our family. The knowledge of that baby's existence was known, but fear, guilt, and the closed adoption prevented my grandmother from searching for her. All she knew was where she had given birth and that it was a girl. It wasn't until the last few years of her life that curiosity grew too much, but unfortunately all that came up were dead ends. My grandmother died in 2016 without being reunited with her first baby girl.
With the death of my grandmother and having already exhausted every option, we gave up. Little did we know that just a few years later everything would change. In June of 2020, as my dad is covered in flour making pasta, he gets a Facebook message. He speechlessly stands there, pasta in hand, and glances at the message. It was some lady claiming to be his sister, but how is that possible? His brother had tried everything to find her and had no luck. A few years prior, my dad had a DNA test done with 23andMe. Trying to connect with his family in Italy, he left his profile open which means that if someone else does a DNA test and you might be related it will show up. After phone calls to his siblings and some Facebook stalking by me and my mom, we confirmed that she, Jody, was in fact his sister. After phone calls and messaging, she made plans to come meet us all.
As I got older, we grew apart and weren't very close by the time she died. I know that she loved me with her whole heart, and I was sad for a time after her death, but it wasn't until I saw my new aunt Jody's hands that I truly missed my grandmother. When I was little my grandmother taught me how to sew, cook, and bake. We were always doing something with our hands, and that is something I distinctly remember of her. When I saw Jody typing on her phone and looking through pictures, I found myself slightly emotional thinking about my grandmother teaching me to sew. I could see details of my grandmother in her face and in her eyes when she smiled, there was no doubt she was one of us. My dad no longer is the oldest child and him and his sibling now have a sister. Jody was the piece to the family we knew was missing but didn't know we needed. Our family is now complete, welcome Aunt Jody, it's too late to back out now :).