With the bloom of the trees and flowers in May, so grows the sadness within me. I find myself grieving the loss of the end of another school year. Another chapter ending in my children's lives--coming ever closer to the day when they will grow up and be independent adults. It fills me with sadness that my days with them are growing shorter, and I, too, am getting older.
But for me, May also brings a greater sense of grief over the death of my mom. This Mother's Day marks the fifth year celebrating that special day without her. More than any other time of year I feel the loss more intensely in May -- even more than her birthday, Christmas, and the anniversary of her death in August.
Since her death, I have honored her memory through words. I write about her WW2 era childhood living in Yugoslavia, her internment in a Russian controlled concentration camp in the mid 1940s, their escape, and her arrival in America in 1950 on the Queen Elizabeth. (my blog can be accessed here.)
Two years ago, in honor of Father's Day, I wrote an article for another local site about her biological father, Franz Bohn. He was her father in name only. She knew virtually nothing more about him than his name. He deserted his family in approximately 1944 and as a family genealogist, I was woefully unsuccessful in trying to find out about my biological grandfather.
Utilizing message boards and Internet searches and trying to contact family who are still in Yugoslavia have yielded no information about him. With my mom and grandma long since deceased, it appeared that all links to him were gone.
That was true until earlier this month. Through the incredible resource of the Internet, my mom's half sister Maja's family found the article after 'Googling" his name, hoping to find information on the man who was also their father. Because I had posted the only photo I have of my mom's father, they confirmed that Franz was indeed one in the same.
Reading about the sole memory my mom had of a man she hardly knew as her dad, it only further confirmed for my mom's siblings that they had found family.
Although approximately 10 to 13 years younger, my mom has three half siblings living in Sweden, two sisters and a brother. Having grown up an only child, my mom had always desired to have brothers and sisters. I only wish she had been alive to celebrate this reunion with me.
Maja, my mom's eldest sister, had heard once or twice in her youth that she had a sister living in America and had always wondered if it was true. As an adult my mom had heard that her father had remarried and had two more daughters, perhaps twins, but thought they were living in Switzerland. Only bits of pieces of what my mom Hilda had heard were true.
Maja and I have only begun to communicate between continents; piecing together details of each others lives--still wondering if together we can find out what happened to the man who deserted both of his families.
But for now we are enjoying the commonalities. My Aunt Maja's son is named Adam, as is mine. Adam has a blond-haired daughter named Elise, just as I do. Maja is a gifted gardener of plants and vegetables, just as my mom was.
Finding Maja and her family does not lessen the grief I feel this time of year. In fact, it highlights how much I miss her being a part of my every day life. This could have been such a joyful reunion between siblings.
Yet, knowing I have aunts, uncles and cousins who share my mom's lineage is such an answer to prayer. And I find the timing to be a great gift to me in celebrating this year's Mother's Day holiday.