You already know that my sister Lindy and I are the closest of biological sisters. Add our stepsister Sissy into the mix and we are all three the closest of sisters and friends. However, you probably are not aware of our half-sister Melinda. Melinda was born when our mother (the amazing Mary) was in the military. Of course, at the time having a child out of wedlock was grounds for dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
Melinda is about two years older than I am. She was adopted, which was about the only option for young, unmarried girls back then.
The funny thing is that I had always known that I was not my mother’s first child. I don’t know whether I figured it out in the womb or overheard some conversations when I was very young, but I knew from a very early age that my older sister was out there somewhere.
The first confirmation of my half-sister was when I visited Aunt Olive in southern Indiana. She had asked me to come down over Christmas vacation since she was moving into a nursing home and would not be taking many of her things. She wanted to give me all of my photographs and a few special mementos of her life. The one I cherish the most is her Mah-Jong set. It is a beautiful wooden box and has real ivory tiles. It is the sort of amazing item from a time long gone by. Aunt Olive asked me at the time to learn how to play, but I have never had anyone the slightest bit interested in playing with me.
Anyway, during that visit, I turned to her one morning and said:
Was I my mother’s first child?
Aunt Olive calmly and quickly replied:
No, you were not.
I told her that I had always felt something or someone missing in my life, and Aunt Olive shared that my half-sister had hired a detective once she turned eighteen to help find her mother. She knew Mary’s name and was able to discover the small town where she grew up. According to Aunt Olive, the detective asked lots of questions but no one told him anything.
Aunt Olive then wrote to my mother and told her not to come down to the area for a while and, as Aunt Olive put it:
The next thing I knew she had moved to California.
Whether all of this happened as she laid out, I cannot say; however, the timeline would be about right since Mother left for California when I was 18 and my sister Lindy was 16.
When I got back home from Aunt Olive’s, I immediately asked my dad about the whole thing. He began by covering up for my mother. He said:
Yes, I knew all about it. She told me that another girl got pregnant and she let her use her name.
Try for a minute not to mind how lame this sounds. Dad was trying to protect his daughters. When I didn’t buy his lame explanation, my dad chuckled and said:
Don’t you have enough crazy relatives? Why would you want one more?
He also related his experiences with his half-brother and half-sister in Taylorville (Opal and Tommy) and said:
Don’t you think I wish I had never found them?
Thinking over the gravity of what my father had said, right then and there I promised myself that I would not look for my sister as long as my father and mother were alive, and I did not.