Happy Birthday Little Brother David!

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This loss weighing on my very bones.

In memory of

David Efrain Rivera

5.12.1966 – 1.9.2009

david compilation

A sense of loss of someone who left this earth eight years ago; eight years before I knew he existed.

Where do I begin?

How do I begin?

 

What happened to those:

  • Eight years
  • 96 months
  • 416 weeks
  • 2920 days
  • 70080 hours
  • 4204800 minutes
  • 252288000 seconds

Where did this time go?

 

What can happen in eight years – what are all the things my brother has missed out on – whether it was a sibling or his own children robbed of their childhood by his passing

Off the top of my head are just some of the highlights that define our existence

  • Birth
  • 1st birthdays
  • first niece / nephew
  • celebrations like
    • graduations from pre-k, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school
    • bris, baptism
    • communion, confirmation, bat / bar mitzvah,
  • first puppy / kitten
  • first concert
  • first road trip
  • first camping trip
  • first true love
  • passing driving test
  • starting college
  • graduating college
  • first credit card
  • first car
  • first job
  • first wedding
  • first house
  • first grandchild

———————-

The list can go on to cover so many things like

  • First family vacation overseas

But – for now let’s just contemplate some of these things

For this too can qualify as a life not lived, or perhaps a life half lived because his legacy is now his lovely children left in the wake of his untimely departure and the grandchildren he never met, and those that that remained, those that loved him; those he left behind.

Farewell oh brother of mine that only lives in pictures and other people’s memories. Stories of your youth shared with me as I try to keep those pieces together to paint your picture! Always wondering, what would have been …

Until We Meet …

Fly free now, alongside your wings our sister (1957 – 2012) and brother (1958-1958) ; with your steadfast co-pilot at your side, your bride (1971 – 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Life Not Lived

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What would have been …?

This life I did not live

 

Pictured above – Birth Family circa 1960 [before I arrived]

It has only been a little over a month and I am still processing, digesting, gathering information, building a [genealogy]family tree so I can see it, comprehend it all in ‘black & white.’

What of these strangers until now … these siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents I never got to know. The stories, the history that was rightfully mine stolen away.

Questions that come to my mind are those that are most taken for granted, I think.  But now; this new opportunity has finally arisen. I remember having a childhood notebook with hundreds of questions to ask of my birth mother. I speak with Linda, my birth mother, and all of those questions evade me. I guess I am still waiting for some truth. But I try to move on and realize there is more to know. I deal with her on a distanced level; working to obtain family history, names, events and some of her memories. Those memories though, always have me questioning how much truth there is to them. The trust is just not there.

Then it dawns on me after we hang up; of my parents and siblings just a few things I wonder about:

  • The color of your eyes?
  • How tall are you?
  • How much did you weigh at birth?
  • Allergies?
  • Do you play an instrument?
  • What kind of music do you like?

I know all of these things about my sister, the one that shares stories of olaughur past, of our family and extended family. The one I have never questioned a future with.   Always lingering and at my fingertips are our shared memories; ones we made together – good, bad and some best not to mention!

These things we take for granted knowing; like we know our name and address; because we have always known it.

Progress in this new ‘un-lived life

My brother and I; we already know the truth in our hearts. For me it is the science first and then the evidence next. I see myself almost looking back as I look at pictures of my sister. Finally knowing who I looked like even if its only in a picture. For my brother; my baby pictures cemented it. To quote him; ‘if you aren’t my sister, then I don’t know who is.’, ‘I feel you sis!’

Perusing their pictures; my birth mother Linda and my deceased birth father Israel. There is no doubt in my mind that these are my birth parents. DNA has already proved that. But just to be sure, my surviving brother has submitted his DNA to Ancestry. And so now we wait.

 

Top Right – Birth Father Israel; Top Middle – Author – FP: Top Left – Birth Mother Linda
Bottom Right – Birth Sister Debra; Bottom Right – Author – FP

 

I don’t want to trade one life story for another. I feel fortunate that I can now officially be a woman of two tribes; and to know the tribes of whence I came. To foster new relationships as I slowly uncover the layers of this life not lived. There is no reason to create a different past; I don’t want to change the facts. I don’t want a different sister than I grew up with, nor family in general. I cherish my life-sustaining tribe. My only regret is not of my actions; but circumstance; that I did not find out the truth until so much later in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Connection?

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Most of my life I wondered about my birth parents, my birth mother in particular. For some reason, my attention always focused in that direction. As I got older and understood the whole procreation process, I realized that my birth mother was going to be my ‘in’ to my truth; my very humble beginnings!

Well, now I have the ability to get to know my birth mother and my emotions are mixed. We have spoken on several occasions; logistically we can only do phone calls. I am okay with that. I want to speak to her; but then I don’t. I want to know the truth; yet Linda is unable to share this secret she has held these fifty plus years. There is nothing more right now that I want, expect, and deserve; it is the absolute truth.

I have imagined at least five possible scenarios that would have pushed her to leave a newborn in a car.

I have excused, forgiven, have no ill will to that scared, lonely [in her heart & head], hormone crazed 25 year old with two small children already in her haphazard care.

However, I have less patience and understanding for the 78 year old on the other end of the line that has yet to take responsibility and been honest with herself to say the least. Feigning memory loss just isn’t working.

‘What did you say Linda, you don’t remember? I am sorry, we seem to have a bad connection – I’ll have to hang up now.’

 

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Older Sister – Deb around the same age [Top Picture – the author around 2 years old]

FOUND!!!!!

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Happened that quickly; in the blink of an eye – I went from not knowing anything to having full siblings, and 200 people on my ancestry tree.
Well, I don’t even know where to begin. But I will start with a bit of backtracking.
Last Monday, after returning from a family vacation, I found I had a ‘close family’ match on Ancestry.
Well, cutting to the chase, after a day of phone calls back and forth to my new close family match, Nikki, sharing 1602 cMs and 62 segments, as well as calls to some other DNA cousins – we determined this was my niece – my FULL niece. Nicki had lots of info and we got from point A to point B pretty quickly with her knowledge combined with the Urdaz research tree I had on Ancestry.
Why is this so AMAZING? 50+ years ago I was found in a car at 12 to 24 hours old with no identifying information. The ensuing police investigation came up empty and I was soon released by Family Services to be adopted. [Who would ever think I would have FULL anything!!]
I have always known I was adopted, and have always wondered about my birth family. Years and years of questioning, wondering and frustration followed by empty leads and not much more information.
Finally, I DNA tested three years ago. I followed the recommendations and tested across the board, aka, ‘fishing in all ponds’; it paid off. Honestly, I am still floored/confused by the science. Many times I didn’t fully understand what I was looking at. I was fortunate to have the assistance of the brilliant mind and amazing heart of a DNA cousin, George P. George correctly determined who my original tribe would be months ago! Without the information George pieced together; it wouldn’t have been so easy to ascertain the relationship with my new found niece!
It turns out I have one surviving full biological brother and 2 that have passed along with my biological father. My birth mother is still alive. She has a vague memory of her pregnancy with me, so I am still trying to determine the true story of my very very humble beginnings. However, she did name me Elizabeth. [My biological brother will be DNA testing soon.]
Now, I am complete – I am relieved to have finally found my truth!
I am still a woman of two tribes, but now I know the origins of my original tribe – so, my quest will be changing.
My breakdown:
I am half Puerto Rican – and if you are Puerto Rican you know this to be a melting pot of several cultures and nationalities combing European, Indigenous and African roots.  The other half is mostly German.  My Jewish / Ashkenazi heritage is still questionable and seems to possibly come from both sides.
My paternal history is Puerto Rican.
My dad was Israel Joseph Rivera y Juarbe, 1935 – 2011. He relocated to Florida.
On his paternal side; he is the great grandson of Hipolito Rivera and Francisca Correa y Urdaz [circa 1866 – 1925] both from Arecibo and Eulogio Rios y Medina & Beatriz Ortega y Viruet [circa 1864 – 1915] both from Utado. He is the grandson of Emilio Rivera y Urdaz & Trinidad Rios y Ortega [circa 1887 – 1937.]
On his maternal side  he is the great grandson of Utado residents Juan Batista Serrano Gonzalez & Cruz Roldan [circa 1842 – 1898] and Antonio M. Juarbe y Gonzalez of Utado & Fidela Gonzalez y Lopez from Lares  [circa 1844 – 1927]. He is the grandson of Jose Juarbe y Gonzalez & Carmen Serrano y Roldan [circa 1842 – 1942]. Both from Utado, eventually Carmen would find herself in Arecibo.
He was the only surviving son of Efrain Rivera y Rios & Rosa Juarbe y Serrano [circa 1912 – 2000]. His mother Rosa, passed just months after his entrance to this world. That is probably what sparked my grandfather, Efrain to pull up roots from Puerto Rico and head to the mainland; to New York. Eventually he would retire with my step-grandmother Marta Davis Centano in Florida. Efrain & Marta would have two children together; my father’s half-siblings, Beatrix and David.
My paternal birth family hails from mostly Arecibo and Utado, Puerto Rico. My paternal surnames are Rivera, Juarbe, Serrano, Gonzalez, Lopez, Correa, Rios, Roldan, Ortega, Urdaz, Medina, Viruet and Miranda.
My maternal history is basically German, along with some Irish.  My mother Linda Elizabeth Reyalt, 1935 – present was born in New York.  At present, she is in a facility in Florida.
On her paternal side, she is the granddaughter of Henry Reyalt & Augusta Ohrich [circa 1878]. They hailed from Germany and show up on the 1910 US Census. Here they both give their immigrations years as 1894 for Henry & 1900 for Augusta ‘Gussie’ as well as claiming ‘Naturalized’ status. They made their home in Brooklyn.
On her  maternal side; she is the great granddaughter of Patrick Sylvester Durkin & Katherine Sweeney [circa 1852 – 1914] both of Mayo Ireland and Philip Ochsenreiter & Katherine Liesenbein [circa 1848 – 1904]. Patrick & Katherine S reported their arrival from Mayo, Ireland to New York city in 1861. At some point after she was widowed, Katherine S relocated to Chicago, Illinois.  Philip & Katherine L originally hailed from a small town, Freinsheim in the district of Bad Dürkheim in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. They migrated to the New York City area arriving on June 24, 1853 on the ship, The Mary Annah. The ship last departed Le Havre, France before it ended its journey on our eastern shore here in New York. She is the the granddaughter of John Ochsenreiter of New York & Katherine E. Durkin of Pennsylvania [born approx 1875, showing up last on the 1930 US census]. They too resided in Brooklyn, NY.
Finally she is the daughter of Walter Reyelt & Isabel Ochsenreiter [circa 1911 –  2003]. Practically her last 8 years she would spend as a widow relocating to Florida.
My My maternal surnames are Reyelt, Ochsenreiter, Durkin, Ohrich, Liesenbein, Sweeney, Dyra, Hofmann, Armbruster, Neyland, and Neiland.
My parents had a total of five children together, in birth order;  Debra Rivera 1957 -2102, Israel Rivera 1958 [stillborn], Joseph Rivera 1960 – present, this author 1963 – present, David Rivera 1966 – 2009.
My tree continues to  populate because of the dedication of another DNA cousin who has even collaborated with George P and she has become more than just a DNA cousin; Yasmin M. is always there as sounding board, a friend and trusted confident.
There are MANY other DNA cousins along the way that have added in great information, shared their family trees, outlined relationships, shared family folklore, gave me roots. Too many to mention here a few off the top of my head …. Karen, Tracie, Roberto, Yolanda, Sylvia, Eric & Emilio, Daniel, Cesar, Martin, Patrick, Teresa, Chastity, Ana, Sofia, Cyndia, Becky, Heriberto, Annette, Peter, Joe, etc. too many to mention!!
From the depths of my heart THANK YOU ALL!!
More details to come – this is the general post so far!!
For those  still looking; DON’T GIVE UP!!!
5.9.17 – Update – I have updated / altered this post to reflect a genealogy spin to it. I cannot honestly say this is a hobby and leave things the way they were. I added in names, dates and places of those that came before me.  Those that have given me a history I can call my own. They gave wings to my tree and it is soaring.