Emily, your story touched on so many things I think about and care about. Family threads: physical, emotional, relational. My mother was one of 4. She had 2 older brothers and a fraternal twin. Her mother died of pneumonia when she and her twin were 10mo old. She never really knew her. The children were parceled out to 4 of her father’s sisters. He moved away and remarried, and his sisters did their best to keep the siblings in touch with each other. Ironically she was closer to her older brothers than her twin. I knew both of them [and their families] for as long as I can remember. We vacationed together. I didn’t meet my mother’s twin until I was 25, attending a cousin’s wedding. He was, in my estimation, the spitting image of my mother as a man — from eye squints to the laugh. These were not learned things. I never asked why he had not been part of our lives but wish I had.
Her father remarried and had another child, a son who made himself known to everyone as a 20yr old young man. My siblings and I were just kids, but old enough to grasp that there was a grandfather and grandmother we had never met, and that our lovely grandmother was actually our great aunt. Both biological grandparents were gone, but we could look at photographs and know them because of those artifacts and the uncanny resemblances of each to our mother, her brothers and twin and half brother who unwittingly revealed a truth neatly tucked away.
My mother felt very loved by her aunt and uncle who were in all ways, except legal, her parents. When my daughter was a young teen, I happened to be in the kitchen talking to my mother. She revealed that, although her father wrote letters asking if she needed anything, she had not met him until she was 14. He wanted to know what she would call him if she would get his attention. He said “Would you call me Dad?” She said no, she would call him Frank because she already had a father. Perhaps this was teenage revenge, or a reply from a confident well loved girl, or both. Either way, I was sad but proud of her and my heart filled with emotion for a woman who had been a girl who had navigated a great number of loses to know love. Thanks for your story that let us know you more.