Six years ago today - March 5, 2004 - I got a new little sister. Now, I have grandchildren, so this was no easy feat! And she truly is my sister. We have the same blood as well as having the same mom and dad as our six other brothers and sisters. So, how did it happen, you ask? Well, Mary Ann, as I knew her in 1966 was baby number eight. And, according to my parents who came home empty handed from the hospital, she died of heart problems. Turns out that Susie - as we know her now - did not die. Our parents put her up for adoption. And Susie had been looking for us for about 18 years. And on March 5, 2004, she finally found us. On another sister's 40th birthday!
I remember when my brother Aaron called to tell me the news. At first I couldn't figure out what he was telling me. Was he dating a girl named Mary Ann? How funny, I thought.....that was my mother's name as well as my sister's name. Believe it or not, the sister who died was often on my mind. No, no! I finally understood! Our sister, Mary Ann, who we thought had died at birth, was alive! She had called him and her name was now Susie. Wow....just amazing. But you know what? I knew from the moment I talked to her on the phone that she was my sister. No doubt about it....no doubt at all.
According to older members of our family, my mother's twin sister for instance, no one knew that Susie had been put up for adoption. My mother had died in 1972, taking the secret to her grave. My father did the same in 2002. I know now why my father had that far-away look in his eye the day I said "No, Dad, you have 8 kids! Remember Mary Ann, who died?" What those words must have stirred up inside of him.
We talked for quite a while that first night. And there was no doubt she was a Johnson. She sounded like us! She emailed me a picture of herself and I remember I just about fell over when I saw her picture. My first thought was that she looked just like me in that picture. Amazing! Once I met her though, I realized how much she looked like my mother. A very pretty lady.
And it was mind-boggling how Susie had the mannerisms that I had always attributed to the Johnson's. A wave of the hand. That sense of humor. The way she stood. The way she sat. It was incredible! And the other similarities - she had a son named Aaron. She now had a brother named Aaron. She had adopted three children. One of my sisters had adopted one child. She had grown up across the state from us. Her first job was at Sonic. So was mine! And Tommy's! She was bright! As are all the Johnson's! She was shorter than me! Yes.....finally, I was no longer the shortest sister! Being the oldest sister, I really thought I should be the tallest girl. A dream come true.....well, almost. I guess the other two will always be taller than me!
I'm glad that Susie came into my life. She is an amazing woman and she has an amazing family. I would like to stay in touch with her better than I do, but you know, I keep in touch with Susie as much as I do anyone else in my family. One thing about us Johnson kids - we all tend to be loners. How in the world did that happen in a family the size of ours!?
Susie, I just wanted to say, you have filled a void in my life - that empty number eight space. For which I will always be grateful. I may not get in touch with you much, but know I love you. I will always remember our first canoe trip! What a blast that day was! And I will always remember my first horse ride as an adult - it was with you, at our brother Kurt's house. How fun was that?! And I will always remember trying on hats with you...what a hoot!
Susie, here's to you! Glad you found us!