Monday, January 24, 2011

"One Up on Oprah" ......or Finding my own two Half Sisters

Oprah's announcement today-of finding a new Half Sister, Patricia, for me, personally, was interesting and emotional., Although my family dynamics were substantially different, not only did I find ONE half sister,,but TWO, about 10 years ago. 

(Oprah and newfound half sister, Patricia)

When I was 15, and having HUGE frustrations and what I considered humiliations from my "Dad," Milt,,,,of which I'd been venting to my Mother,,,she pulled into a gravel church parking lot, turned off the engine of her little Red Rambler-looked at me and declared, "He is NOT you Real Father."

I turned my head- Right, Left, looked through the car windshield and thought to myself, "are we in a Movie, or am I in some weird dream???" Okay, so, my family was pretty Normal,,,,I mean, I thought it was Normal,,,,,,


My mother had me at 40,,,,,,and I had 3 ,,count 'em 3 brothers.My youngest brother Ross,  was 10 years older than me,,,,,,and, I had two OTHER "brothers" 16 and 17 years older than me....

As a teen, all of this kind of registered. And my Mom, who was my dearest, best friend,when she finally "told me," only didn't really,  didn't elaborate. I got scared. Scared to ask questions,,,,scared to Rock the Boat that was my family, my life and my existence. Truthfully? I craved a  story \an answer to all the questions that started piling up in my head-once she unleashed the truth..... I longed to know,,,,,Who was my bio dad? But I loved my mother so, and she didn't seem willing to share elaborate, and so I was afraid,,,,I didn't ask more.

A funny thing happened after she told me. The "Dad" that had raised me took on a different light in my world.
Prior to her announcement,,,,,all I thought was,,,,,He could be ill-mannered, swear like the sailor he formerly was,  embarras me, And in spite of their affluence/wealth, he'd wear thrift store or navy issued clothing, when he could have afforded much better,,,,,and periodically brought things home from the thrift store,,,,But,, i started to accept,,,and shortly thereafter, I "warmed."

With all of his faults and flaws, He gave me a happy childhood. He "raised me up." He made me believe I could BE and do anything. Yeah, I "did" all the girl things,,,but I did the "boy" things too. I went Fishing and Camping and I even learned how to shoot a gun, although all I ever shot at were tin cans,,,,,,,and truly, I could NEVER understand how the guys could go off and shoot Birds, Deer and Elk. But I was HIS princess,,,,,He loved me,,,,and always, always treated me like "his own." And even AFTER I found out he wasn't my "Real Dad," I never elluded to the fact that I'd learned that. He WAS,,,,,,my "Dad."

But later on, after having my own kids, and watching them grow, and my mother grew older I truly craved to know more about the "other half of my DNA,,,,,my bio Dad. And I researched and researched on the Internet and made endless phone calls and wrote  emails and letters........and Finally,,,,,,,,I found out about my "Bio Dad". And the other half of my Family.

By the time I  completed my researchsh,,,,,My Bio Dad, James T. Flanigan had passed away. He died just prior to my being widowed in 1994. His mother, my Grandmother outlived him, but by the time I finished my search, she was gone too. ...

But here's the "Oprah" part......or better yet! I finally "found" two half sisters, I never knew I had . One, Theresa, lives in Cork, Ireland- and also has two boys,,,,,,,. And my other sister Patricia,,,,,or Patty,,,,,lives in Germany with her two boys!

We're not close,,,,,,yet, or at least as close as I would like to be with either. After all, it's a newfound alliance and the Miles make it difficult. And yet........If you were to ask me......"How many Brothers and sister I have?" I'd  say, "Five." My Step Brothers, Bob and Bill,,,,,My Half (and closest) brother Ross, and My half sisters Patty and Theresa.

Life can throw us ALL curves........Me, Oprah.............perhaps you!

I think you need to embace it ALL~ Inspite of "irregularities," I had a GREAT childhood, full of "brothers that loved me,,,,,,a Mom who protected me. You cannot change your past,,,,,only accept and embrace the future!

Hugs, love and Bus,,,,,,and share it all with those that need it right now!
(Lots of empathy, lots of healing, lots of prayers going out to ALL  those we love!) As I've grown closer with Blog friends, I've learned of their trials, their pains, their losses AND their triumphs!  I wouldn't have it any different! My heart and prayers go out to you all,,it's been a tough couple of months for many of you!
Take care, be strong!



  1. Dearest Shell- you are an amazing person to share this deeply intimate story. That you can see this from such perspective is a tribute to the wonderful family that you were so blessed to have. I pray that over time you can develop the kind of relationship that you desire with your step sisters. You are right- the many miles are a hardship- have you shared your blog with them? I can not imagine a better way to get to know you ---. In such a short time- I feel that I have come to know you so well through your fabulous blog. Waking up and discovering that you were my step sister? Way cool!

  2. What a wonderful story. I'm so glad your mother told you about your step-father. Sounds like he was a good man in spite of his "differences". You were blessed even though you had different circumstances. The best part of it, as I see it... you KNOW how blessed you are!
    Ladybug Creek

  3. You are an amazing woman and I pink puffy heart you.


  4. Hi, I have to say that was a wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing. I am sure that it was not easy finding out all of these things. Have a wonderful week. Hugs, Terri

  5. Life is full of possibilities . . . and I don't know of anyone who pursues them with such heart and vigor as YOU, Miss Shell!! Hope you make those connections that you desire.

    It occurs to me that I, too, have a similar story. Raised by a step-father (but found out much younger than you did) who was totally my DAD. Never knew my paternal sperm-doner . . . a no-show all my life. He partnered up with someone and had several *other* children, who I know absolutely nothing about. Hmmm . . . do I want to open that door? Not sure.

    I admire your courage!!!

    xoxo Debi

  6. I'm so sorry you missed out on meeting your father and grandmother. (Great Irish name though!!)

    It's so neat that you tracked down your family. I hope you get to meet them one day and that you develop the closest relationship sisters can have.


  7. LOVED the story, well not really a story as in it is true, Thank you for sharing your 'family' with us. I love knowing all your ins and outs! Makes you who you are, one amazing gal friend creative genius who has MORE ENERGY than anyone I know!! YES, you are now an inspiration to many! The OPRAH of Snohomish!

  8. Wow.
    I'm in the same boat Shelly!
    My mom told me when I turned 21 or so that I had a FULL blooded sister from my same father. She was so young, she had to put my sis up for adoption. She was so ashamed and felt so bad for keeping it a secret but I didn't feel anything but warmth and acceptance for my mom.
    But now that it's over 12 years later, I think we should try and find my sister. She could look exactly like me or be completely different, but it is definitely intriguing.
    Only problem is that adoptions were closed in California so I have no idea on how to find her. How did you do it? I'd love to hear more about the process.

    It's crazy how many of us there are out there searching for some long lost family, isn't it?


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