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Finding A Long Lost Sister After 50 Years

Updated on August 24, 2015

A New Sister

I’ve never been particularly interested in those TV reality shows. At least I wasn’t until I became involved in a true-to-life reunion situation myself. I found a sister I didn't know about.

It all began a little over a year ago when I found myself stricken with the genealogy bug. I had an insatiable desire to find out once and for all about my family’s ancestry. I was especially interested in my biological fathers’ side of the family. I had already compiled a lengthy list of ancestors on my mother’s side and my family tree was leaning to one side. So I began searching for relatives on my father’s side.

I didn’t know much about them except for what I could pry out of my mother. Suffice it to say what she had to say about my father was not going to win him any awards as “Father of the Year”. Prominently expressed in her description of him were names and phrases such as “drunk, dead beat, no good, drug addict and abusive”. Apparently, he was also a womanizing adulterer who had threatened the lives of me, my two brothers and sister. Gee, a real upstanding pillar of the community, to say the least.


Where Did I Come From?

Oddly enough, his parents were devout Catholics. And that’s all I knew about that side of the family. But where did they come from and how could I find out more? I began searching genealogy websites on the internet, leaving posts here and there, hoping to find a lead. I had all but given up when I received an E-mail from someone I didn’t know. I almost deleted it, but curiosity got the better of me and I opened it. It was from a man in Nova Scotia, Canada. He knew exactly who I was from information I had posted on the web. His name was Erich and happened to be a distant cousin. He was grandson to one of my grandfather’s sisters.

Erich was deep into genealogy and had extensive files on our family. When he studied my information he realized another cousin of his was actually my half sister…someone I had no idea existed. She was a daughter from yet another of my father’s several marriages. We know of at least three now and there’s no telling how many other families he may have sired. The only other marriage I discovered was to a lady in Chicago named Grace. There were 4 or 5 more children from that marriage, but I have no idea of where they may be now. So, it seems John James Young Jr. really got around. I was named the third, but I don’t use it. After all, I never knew him.

Anyway, Erich notified me of my heretofore unknown sister, Lisa, and also informed her. Lisa was living in Virginia Beach…about a 5 hour drive from where I was living in Florence, SC! We would never have found each other since her mother had decided not to use the Young surname, for obvious reasons, but opted instead to use her family’s name of McCormack.


The Meeting

Lisa, unfortunately, was an only child. Therefore, she grew up without any brothers or sister which she always desperately wanted. Lisa had seen a picture of me at my grandparents’ house in Framingham, MA. It was one taken of me in my Army uniform from the one and only time I ever met them. So, Lisa knew about me but didn’t know where I or the rest of my family was. She had previously endured several failed marriages, one of which produced her son, James Lima. James is presently serving combat duty in the U.S. Air Force in the Far East.

In short order, we were put in touch with each other. Lisa was ecstatic; learning she all of a sudden had several older brothers and a sister! She called me and plans were made to meet. Several weeks later she arrived in Florence for our first meeting.

I was fortunate enough to have had brothers and a sister, so I was unprepared for the emotional tears that were about to spring forth. We met on my door steps and she cried and hugged me until the stuffing almost came out. I was touched…I had never received that much outward affection from my other siblings. I liked that. Whenever we spend time together now, she never fails to hug me several times…usually without warning. It gives me a nice warm glow inside. (Of course, I’m her favorite.)


A Sad Event

There was one sad event that left us all reeling, especially Lisa. Our sister Debbie, the oldest, was suddenly taken from us at the young age of 60. Lisa had only been able to spend less than a day with her new found sister. Both had desperately wanted a sister and had bonded immediately. The family resemblance between the two was uncanny. Sometimes I forget I’m not looking at Debbie.

Since, we’ve compared family notes and discovered that except for different mothers our lives have almost been a carbon copy of each other.

Lisa was able to provide an exhaustive list of the family tree from our father’s side. Seems we are people of note having the extreme distinction of being the first family kicked out of Canada for horse stealing! Come on now…nobody gets kicked out of Canada!

The pages of our history have been peeled back into the misty past of three digit years. I haven’t gotten that far back yet. I’m putting it off. Who knows what else I’ll find out?


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      CRS, That is wonderful. I'm happy for you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I also recently found my long lost half brother - living 10 minutes away from me! He is 13 and I am 30, so a bit of an age difference but I can relate to the emotions you experienced in your own journey.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      There are more stories about my life growing up. Read about my first love, Grandfather and the Bear, Grandfathers Nudist Colony. Theres many others I wrote 1st person and about my early years. Look at Spelunking in Tennessee.

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      John, this is beautiful and quite emotionally charged. I had no idea and, for Heaven's in the world have I missed this for so long???!!! You've written in such an open, amazing way. I am so glad you found Lisa and that she, at least, was able to meet her sister, Debbie, if even only for one time. this is a side of you that is usually reserved for places other than Hub Pages, if I am not so presumptuous in noting. Very heart on sleeve real, John. thank you for sharing this personal story with your friends here at HP's. I like this side of you. Up Beautiful Awesome Useful, Interesting...!!!!

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Alastar, yes there was a strong family resemblance in my older brother and sister as well. Thanks for your comments.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Oh JY, this is beautiful and sad. Thank you for sharing with us.I empathize with you on finding some of your roots but not the loss for which I'm truly sorry. Best of everything to you and this is meant in a good way but you can see the resemblance between you and your father.:D

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      No one can replace Debbie, but having found you has helped me to cope with her loss.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I can't to begin to describe the many emotions that I felt meeting my 1/2 brothers and sister after so many years of searching for them. If it wasn't for my brother Jim, I would never have had that one wonderful day with my sister Debbie.

      Because Jim reached out and accepted me as part of the family, I had a chance to meet my sister, my brothers, and their children. With Debbie's passing, I feel a much deeper connection to Debbie's children, Albert and Deborah.

    • tectonic profile image


      8 years ago from Singapore

      Great article you’ve got.

      Fantastic is all I can say

    • profile image


      8 years ago from Little Falls Minnesota

      In spite of the dire circumstances, your story was very heartwarming.

    • bayoulady profile image


      8 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      How wonderful for Lisa to now have siblings to enrich her life. How wonderful for you all!


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