Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hollywood Ending _ Family Lost and Found

The story I'm about to share is a true one but it feels more like a movie script. The story starts with my parents leaving Ireland in their 20's and journeying to America circa 1928-29. It's a story of the American Dream but it's also a story of the family lost in the process. My 1st real memory as a child was watching my father die of pneumonia in our apartment. I was four years old and the year was 1956. Shortly after my mother had a falling out with her sister and we lost contact with the only family we had in America. My mother lost contact with her family in Ireland so we grew up with only my mother, my brother and myself being our only family.

My father became a US citizen and fought in the US Army in the Philippines during WW II. He died young ten years later and I never really got to know him. My mother always dreamed of returning to Ireland and maintained her Irish citizenship. I remember going regularly with her to the post office to renew her Irish passport. My mother never returned to Ireland after the death of my father. She died in the Bronx with the dream in her heart. My mother died in the 1980's and our family was now even smaller. It was now just my brother and his family and myself. If this was the way life usually works the story would end here. But it doesn't and here it spins in a direction I could never predicted. If I was writing a script this is the point where you put in the Hollywood ending.

Flash forward to the present six months ago and I receive a call from my niece in New Jersey that a relative of ours from the UK contacted her on the Internet. After a lot of back of forth communications to decide if we were indeed related we discovered that we were. Now it gets better.

This is the story as I've come to know it so far. My second cousin in the UK traveled with her parents (my cousin) to a famous shrine in Ireland called the Shrine of Knock to pray for some divine intervention with some health issues. On that trip her great-aunt who is 93 years old requested that my cousin find out what happened to her two sisters who went to America in the 20's. One of those sisters was my mother.

My cousin from the UK in the middle of dealing with her health problems took on the mission on to find us and she did. I guess you could say that partial it had to do with the power of the Internet. But it doesn't end here. She also with the help of my niece tracked down my cousins in the US who I hadn't seen since I was 6 years old and reunited us.

My niece and myself called my Aunt in Ireland and she told us we better come there for Easter to see her. So we are headed to a family reunion in the West of Ireland, County Mayo. Family is coming from America, the UK and Ireland.

Okay so let me try to wrap my mind around this. Six months ago I had no contact with any relatives and because of a trip my cousin made to Ireland and decision she made to find the family I no have family and have been reconnected with cousins in three countries.My daughter's world has grown and she now has extended family from both parents.

In one moment life has changed forever. I guess you can say it's a story of the power of the human spirit and maybe even some Irish magic thrown in. Now I tend to be a down to earth pragmatist but this whole experience is one of those moments that make you go Hmmmmmm! It just makes me realize there is so much I'll never understand. I would go as far as to say it feels almost like a little miraculous. So if I was making this story up I might call it the "Miracle of Knock", but I'm not making it up I'm just living it. I guess I had to go to Hollywood to get a real Hollywood ending for my real life story.

So as I journey to Ireland I know I am making my mother's journey home for her and completing the circle. I know she's got to be looking down on me and crying tears of happiness and maybe ...........Hmmmmmmmmm.

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