So here’s a crazy story that happens to other people. A few weeks ago, I got a random text from my aunt, asking for a specific cousin’s number. I’m the one who keeps in touch with said cousin, Desi, best, so sure. I give her the info and think nothing of it.
The next day, I get a text from Desi, “Holy shit, I have a half sister!” After many texts and phone calls, and even texts and phone calls with said half sister, Niesha, of whom none of us knew of her existence, I hear this story:
Niesha, a lovely black woman two weeks younger than myself (I’m 39), had been looking for her biological father for the past like 15 years. She has two sisters, all with different baby daddies. Their mom knew who sired the other two girls, but not Niesha.
Their mother, now deceased, had had a hard life. Whatever circumstances led her to it, she was a prostitute at 15. And unfortunately, she became a pregnant one at 15. When a prostitute gets pregnant, she stops working, gets killed, or marries her pimp. She married her pimp.
This man, the man Niesha knew as “dad,” even though she knew he wasn’t blood, had a brother who took the girls in. As one can imagine being brought up in that lifestyle, Niesha also had a hard life.
So she ran away at 14 and got married. She moved to New Orleans with this man and they lived with his mother. Because 14 is still young, Niesha feels as if this woman raised her.
Niesha followed the only path she knew- escorts, drugs, gangs, and violence. She also has three children from three baby daddies.
But she never really felt like she “fit in” to this world. She hated her forehead, which she felt was too large, her nose too long, her waist too skinny, her ass not big enough, etc.
When she saw her daughter start to go down that same path, she stopped escorting. She quit using, selling, and buying drugs. She gave up gangs. She began to get “respectable” employment. She successfully raised the first high school graduates in her line, and her children didn’t have children until they became adults. After all of this, Niesha vowed to get an answer to the question “who’s my dad?”
Her mother had never been able to answer that question because her dad was one of her johns- one of her clients, and there’s no way of knowing which one.
While ancestry.com has been around a while, and it is Utah based, and Niesha had moved back to Utah, Niesha hadn’t heard of it until recently. And saving up the money to join was another challenge.
But she both saved the money and joined the site. The results took a few weeks, but they yielded answers. The relatives on her mother’s side were of little surprise to her.
But the relatives on her father’s side were the ones she was most interested in seeing. To her great surprise, they were all white. Not kind of white. Not mixed race. But Scandinavian, glow in the dark white. That would explain her long nose, high forehead, and I don’t know about the skinny. Ain’t nobody skinny in my family. Except her. I got that ghetto booty she wanted.
So I’ve given the spoiler that she’s my cousin. But you guessed that by that title and Desi having a half sister. But I’ll continue.
Her DNA matched with my cousins Karen, daughter of my aunt Jennie, and my cousin Cliff, son of aunt Karen. Jennie and Karen are my mother’s sisters. I adore them.
Niesha contacted them. They both said they knew nothing of a long lost cousin, and to contact their mothers. Niesha was able to get in touch with Aunt Karen.
Aunt Karen took some time in responding to her because, after hearing her story, she contacted her two living brothers to see if they matched up. The siblings/ aunts and uncles deduced that Niesha was a product of my late uncle, Larry (because I had an Uncle Larry on the other side, I may call him Hal interchangeably).
My oldest sister wonders if she really did belong to that brother/ uncle, or if the other two simply wouldn’t admit to getting a 15 year old prostitue pregnant. She makes a good point. But since Hal spent much of my childhood in prison for armed robbery, he does seem more likely. This same sister also wonders if this isn’t an elaborate scam. She may be right, but Niesha has certainly done a lot of research and kept her stories straight to scam a family that doesn’t have any money!
However, this is where I come into the story. Niesha was ready to jump in her boyfriend’s car and drive 5 hours south to see Desi right away. Desi convinced her to talk to me, a cousin in Salt Lake, where she was, instead.
Niesha and I chatted for probably an hour and a half. I was at a friend’s house. We instantly bonded. I sent a Lyft to bring her over. My boyfriend was cooking a fancy meal because he was moving to Pennsylvania a few days later (I’ll follow when I get my doctors all set up out there. Avoid MS if you can). My friend’s complex has a pool. My friend happened to have a bathing suit too small for any of us that she hadn’t returned yet. The whole evening was perfectly kismet, a good welcome to the family for Niesha, and a good send off for Matthew.
I texted Aunt Jennie and asked for pictures of her late brother. We then ate dinner, drank shots, went swimming, and fell down. Okay, I was the only one who fell, and I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the multiple sclerosis. But we had a good time, at any rate.
Upon returning to the condo, I checked my phone and saw that Aunt Jennie had delivered. When I showed Niesha pictures of her father, she began to cry. She said her son looks just like him. Her son is named Kenneth. My grandfather is named Kenneth.
This family I’ve had my whole life, and perhaps taken for granted because of it, this woman was dying to know. The stories I’d heard so often they bored me, this sweet woman who’d never quite fit in, was longing to hear.
A woman who lives at my retirement home and I were chatting recently. We discovered she knew my grandparents. She’d find me at mealtimes at tell me all about them. In truth, I only feigned interest.
But Niesha is truly interested. She’s drinking in any and everything Shaw related.
My family, whom I strongly resemble (on both sides actually), had always been a source of consistency and reliability to my. I may not know what autoimmune disease I pulled from either side, but I’ve never questioned my heritage.
“Belong” may be a strong word, but I never wondered who my parents were, if I was secretly adopted, or why I didn’t fit in.
I’d taken that all for granted my whole life, and here was this amazing woman, who’d overcome trial after trial, aching to know where she fit in.
She fits in with us.