Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some Moments Weigh Against a Lifetime

It’s one of my favorite quotes, probably because I know it to be true. Pamela Tudsbury, troubled daughter of a media star, says that to Victor Henry in Herman Wouk’s wonderful novel The Winds of War. She’s in love with Victor, though he’s a married man and twenty years older than her. She tells him of her love, and offers to settle on being his mistress. He refuses. But she is undaunted, and bides her time.

They are in London, during the Blitz, when Pamela declares herself. She is in the British military at that time, and almost goes AWOL just to be with Henry while he’s there on special assignment. Finally, over the phone, he tells her she has a job to do and go do it. She agrees. They chat for a few minutes about their couple of weeks of casually being together. Finally Pamela says, “Some moments weight against a lifetime, don’t they?” That may be an approximate quote, as I’m writing this at work and don’t have the book with me.

Yes, some moments weight against a lifetime. The deaths of my parents, marriage, birth of children. The major news events I’ve lived through. Other special events, good or bad. The day I met my Lord and Savior. One such day was September 1, 2014. Not because that was the 75th anniversary of the start of World War 2, but because it was the day it was confirmed that I have a previously unknown half-sister.

Yes, you read that right. This has been brewing in my life since August 11. I’m not going to go into full details here, but as a result of DNA testing that some New York cousins had done a few years ago, and that this half-sister had done more recently, this has all come about.

It turns out my mother had her in 1945, four plus years before she and my dad were married, about five years before my other sister was born. Mom was unwed and pregnant. She had moved back to Providence RI from Boston MA and probably found out there, but went to Worcester MA to have the baby. The information on the birth certificate matched my mother’s info, except for a bogus last name—but it was a last name of her step-grandfather and grandmother. I was contacted about this by the cousin (who I already knew), and then my half-sister and I talked. I agreed to DNA tests. The results of those tests came back on September 1, confirming that we are half-siblings.
Her name is Deborah Burnham Harris (Burnham being her adopted name). She has two children, four (almost five) grandchildren. But except for those, her only close family was two adopted brothers, neither of whom had children, from whom she’s somewhat drifted away in her adult years. Now, she’s part of a larger sibling group, her children are part of a first cousin group, and her grandchildren are part of a second cousin group.

We have made plans to meet soon, sooner than we might have expected at first. The photo shows my mother on the left and Deb on the right, at a similar age. I see a strong resemblance, as do most people I’ve shown it to, though others have told me they don’t see it. Judge for yourself.

So yes, Pamela, I agree. Some moment do weigh against a lifetime. I've experienced another one.

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