55 Years Later

As the Acura pulled in to the parking lot of my mom’s apartment complex, the rush of excitement built on the pillar of 55 years had my mom next to the car before it was put in park.  It was now a matter of seconds before sisters, who had, for years, only been able to wonder where each were, would be reunited again.

In 1955, my mom said goodbye to her sister.  The kind of goodbye you say to someone knowing full well you will see them again, and soon.  And why not?  Her sister Carla, the daughter of my grandfather and his first wife, had come to my mom’s house every weekend.  Saying goodbye to Carla could have just as easily been phrased, “See you next weekend”.  That was the arrangement. That is how, for the first 8 years of my mom’s life, she had come to know, see, and be apart of her sister’s life.  An older sister whom she adored.  An older sister she could hardly wait the five days to see again.  So in 1955, the sisters said their goodbyes, thinking they would talk again on Friday. What both girls did not know was, in 1955, that goodbye they thought was temporary, would span 55 years.

My mom recently rediscovered her sister.  Thanks to the technology of the 21 Century my mother is so quick to ignore or feign ignorance towards, she has been able to reconnect with the sister she adored so many years ago (and now would be a willing spokeswoman for Mark Zuckerberg even if every time I tell her to ‘poke’ one of her friends she tells me to watch my mouth).

Through some investigative digging through former high school graduates and an impassioned plea via Facebook to anyone with a similar name, Christa, my sister, found our mom’s sister.  To add an element of destiny to the story, the last person alive who knew Carla from the moment she had been born, my mom’s godfather (and my grandfather’s cousin)Frank, passed away on the same day my sister first made contact with Carla.  Almost as if the cosmos had seen it fit to replace our lost family member with a new one.

The reasons surrounding why my mom and Carla stopped seeing each other died with each of their parents and a generation of relatives I either barely knew or only knew from black and white pictures.  Surely, if we dug deep enough, stories could be found.  Fingers could be pointed.  The blame could be given an identity Because they were kids when that final ‘goodbye’ had been said, they had no control over the course of action taken by their parents.  Turned, by their parents, in a direction that had been decided would be best situation for all involved.  Why? Because, just like today, what is thought to be “best situation” for everyone rarely is so.  Yet, to cast a blanket of blame now would only tarnish what was staring them in the face…their reunion.  So it would be decided that the new “best situation” for everyone involved would be to forget the mistakes of their parents, despite their best intentions.

From the moment everyone “friended” each other on Facebook, my mother and her sister spoke regularly.  After the formality the first phone call between two people who have not spoken since the Eisenhower administration were past, the 55 years apart from each was erased as everyday talk, like they never said ‘goodbye’ emerged.  Talk of kids, grandkids, husbands, ex-husbands and eventually talk of planning to see one another.

This is what has led my family to be huddled in the stairway of my mom’s apartment as Aunt Carla is being navigated to the apartment over the phone by my sister.  We all can hear as my sister tells Aunt Carla to keep her eyes peeled for specific landmarks she should be seeing along her route. Landmarks that for Carla bring her closer to us and landmarks that mark how much more time must pass before my mom can see her sister again.

As the Acura pulled in to the parking lot of my mom’s apartment complex, the rush of excitement built on the pillar of 55 years had my mom next to the car before it was put in park.  It was now a matter of seconds before sisters, who had, for years, only been able to wonder where each were, would be reunited again.

The door of the Acura opened and in one tearful embrace, 55 years melted away.  It was an embrace everyone one of us, now streaming into the parking lot, felt and wanted to be apart of, but no one dared to interrupt.  I was captivated by it.  In between trying to take as many pictures of this moment as possible, I could feel my eyes begin to swell.   It was impossible not to feel it.  It was impossible, having a sister, to not to feel the same as my mom and her sister did at that moment. Their embrace was for our entire family, both living and dead. Their embrace had allowed two sisters, who so long ago said ‘goodbye’, to finally be able to again say ‘hello’…55 years later.

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