LAKE WYLIE — Two sisters celebrated a special anniversary at the beginning of the month here in Lake Wylie. Its an anniversary few can relate to.
Twenty years ago, I met my sister for the first time, June Henry of Lake Wylie said.
Junes parents divorced when she was 9 years old. It was a different time then, without the typical visitation and joint custody agreements court ordered today. Junes mother told her that her father had died. She never saw him again.
Even though my mother told me my father had passed, June explained, I just felt in my heart that it wasnt true. I knew he was still out there, and once I became an adult, I began searching for him.
Each time June traveled to a new location, she would check the phonebook for her family name. If she saw Eichers, she would call from a pay phone. She did find her paternal grandparents through the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Finally, an acquaintance suggested she check with the Mormon Church records. It was there she found her fathers death record from 1982, many years after her parents divorce. According to the record, he died in Las Vegas. She was able to locate the obituary from the newspaper. Thats when she found out she had a sister.
Having a sister closed all of the gaps for me, June said. I was 60 years old, and I found my family.
Irene Domnisse is 15 years younger than June and although they have different mothers, it has no bearing on the closeness they feel as sisters.
It was my daughter who let me know of the message June left, Irene said. I was nervous and excited at the same time when I called her back. June began the conversation by trying to explain who she was, but I already knew. There was no explanation needed.
As a young girl, Irene found a picture of a woman and a girl in an old cedar chest. She asked her mother who was in the picture. Her mother explained the girl in the picture was her half-sister, but not to discuss it again in front of her father because it was too painful.
June flew out to Las Vegas to meet Irene for the first time 20 years ago and the reunion was electrifying.
I just couldnt believe how much she looked like Dad, Irene said. I saw him all over again.
From there the sisters were just like any other family.
We visit each other several times a year, June said. Weve attended weddings and other celebrations for each other and our extended families. We are family just like any other.
Wendy Dimitri of Lake Wylie is a freelancer writer. Email neighbors column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.