I have a half-brother and half-sister from my father's first marriage and 'first family' as he often referred to them as we were growing up. I met them when I was 5 years old and didn't see them again until I was 14/15 when I took it upon myself to contact my half-sister with help from my Grandmother (Betty) and my Dad's approval. My mother had never been keen on interacting with these would-be step children and when my half-sister Valerie had her first daughter six months after Ricky was born she cut off all ties between them, Valerie couldn't even write us.
But she did. And my father showed me the pictures of my niece and hid the letter and the photos in the water heater closet. I would sometimes sneak in there and peek at the photos of a family that I was related to but not allowed to know.
When my mother moved out in 1995 word spread (through my paternal grandmother who had remained close with my dad's two older children) that my mother and father were separated (divorce not being necessary as it was only a 'common law' marriage). Flash forward to Christmas 1996, a Christmas card (that I still have) addressed to my father, me and my two siblings from my sister. It was a very short note, wishing us a happy holiday and passing on the news that she was pregnant again.
It was at this point that I contacted her. And she immediately wrote back with more information about herself and her family and growing up dysfunctional as I was in the midst of doing. In March of 1997 she had another girl. In October 1997 my father, Ricky and I travelled to her family's home in Maryland. It was the first time my father had ever met either of his granddaughters or seen his daughter in over 9 years. It was a happy reunion and the letters continued. In April of 1998 we threw a party for my Grandma Betty's 80th birthday. My half-brother who I had only met for a few hours a decade earlier flew in from Colorado. It was the first time that my dad had seen him in over 10 years.
During high school I spent weeks every summer with my sister, who I no longer think of as a half sister, getting to know her, my brother-in-law and my nieces. When I got married in 2001, my youngest niece was our flower girl. Every year (excluding this year) my dad, grandma, Valerie and I go on a trip together in May. In June of 2004 my father and I flew to Colorado to visit my brother and his family and this past weekend my father and Grandma Betty flew to Colorado to visit with my brother and his wife and their three children who are 7, 4 and 7 months. Their daughter Tatum was born less than a month after Bailey and Cooper.
My sister and I no longer write letters, but we still send each other pictures of our families and this past April we celebrated Grandma Betty's 90th birthday with them and my dad's only cousin flew in to see him and his Aunt. My dad hadn't seen his cousin in 33 years. We are still dysfunctional but at least we are allowed to contact one another.
My sister, Valerie is in construction as well but her true love is painting and her horses. A few weeks ago my Dad told me that she had just sold her first painting on eBay and tonight I was trying to find her on eBay and this is what I found instead.
You can find just about anything on the Internet.