This year is going to begin with a huge transformation in our family structure. In 1945 my mother's father left her, her sister and their mother in a small town in Pennsylvania. He joined the Army and was stationed in Texas. He supposedly died in a house fire with his new family in the 50's. My mother grew up with her sister, 7 half siblings and a stepfather who ruled with an iron fist.
After doing genealogy on my family in 2007, I found my grandfather. Yes, he died in a house fire - but he died alone. He was separated from his wife and 7 kids in Texas. After months of research, we found out his 7 children, my mother's half siblings, lived in Texas. After a couple of unanswered emails and phone messages, I hit a dead end.
Fast forward 4 years. I move to the Houston, Texas area and after unpacking, come across my genealogy things. I sent the email again with hopes of it ending up in my "cousin's" inbox. Late that evening I received an email from him and a phone number to call the next day. I hardly slept.
Long story short, my new cousing and I talked on the phone and figured out my grandfather came to Texas, met another woman, had 7 children and died tragically in a house fire. However, all 7 siblings AND their mother are still alive and living within an hour of Houston, Texas. The oldest child was 10 when their father died, but their mother, who is now in her 80's, is the last known living person to really have known my grandfather personally. The Texas kids knew of the other 2 children in Pennsylvania, but never where they were or how to contact them. Evidently my mother's stepfather told her father never to contact them.
After years of my mother's matter-of-fact attitude that her father was dead to her, literally and figuratively, she is ready and excited to embrace her half siblings and add them to the family.
This February (2012) we have a family gathering planned and we will finally meet the newly discovered additions to our crew. I am excited that my mother will get the answers she needs about her father's leaving and she will be able to meet her half sisters and brother for the very first time.
This is definitely something that will transform the structure of our family. It is incredible knowing my mother now has 7 "new" brothers and sisters, an opportunity to meet them all, and a grand total of 14 siblings!