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Finding the Missing Piece

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Photo courtesy of Thea Spisz
John Darnaby holding his daughter, Dorothea Cordrey.

After years of searching, my mom was finally able to find my aunt’s long-lost family. On January 2017, my aunt Dorothea passed away; she went peacefully while in a home for those who had dementia. The last thing she asked of my mom was to keep looking for her family.

Growing up, Dorothea knew she had a different dad than her five brothers and sister; no one else knew until an uncle had let it slip, subsequently resulting in my mom and her brother, Andy, discovering this information. Their mother was beyond upset, pleading with them not to tell anyone. She was afraid that my mom and bothers would treat Dorothea coldly, which they would never do.

Their mom passed away unexpectedly shortly after, and Dorothea felt the need to tell the rest of her siblings that she did not have the same dad. Everyone acted calmly and never treated her differently; she was their sister, no matter what.

My mom loves to investigate; she loves to dig and take on challenges, which this most definitely was. The only thing she had to go off of was two pictures: They were of a man holding her sister as a baby and the other photograph had the same man dressed in a military uniform standing in front of a World War II car. She had no name or any idea where to start.

That was until she decided that she and Dorothea should take a DNA test. She noticed that at some point another person’s genetics and my aunt’s have crossed paths and kept coming to a specific family; so, she dug even deeper to see if they had a family tree as well.

Fortunately, they did and Mom had found the woman who had uploaded the tree on Facebook and messaged her. Praying that this lady did not think she was crazy, she sent the photos and told her what she was trying to do.

 The woman was kind and said that even though she did not recognize the man, she would ask around at the wedding she was going to attend soon. She even posted the photos on her Facebook to see if anyone else knew who he was. Luckily, someone had commented on the photos and said that the man looked like their uncle John.

This sent Mom into hyperdrive: she was getting close to finding out who exactly he was. She ended up messaging the person who had commented on the photos and getting as much information as possible, they even gave my mom their login and password to another DNA website.

There she found the name Darnaby. Coincidentally, my stepdad had asked my mom to look online to see if she could find his dad’s rank in the military. She found his rank and clicked out of the website, only stopping for a moment before feeling that she needed to go back on and search for the last name Darnaby on the page.

She had found someone that posted a photo of all the of Darnaby brothers and messaged them. The person said that the man holding Dorothea was John Darnaby: he had passed away a long time ago, but he still had two children alive.

Mom was then given the eldest sibling’s contact information, whose name was Joyce. Anxious on how to even bring the subject up, she explained the situation and Joyce told her, “Well, we knew my father had a child in Germany… a daughter… and I think her name was Dorothy.”

Mom was in tears as Joyce described the same photo she had of Dorothea being held by her dad. She finally found her sister’s family.

Joyce had a younger brother named Jerry, who actually lived only half an hour away from my family. We had made a trip to go see him, ecstatic to finally meet Dorothea’s family and on Dec. 30, 2017, my mom and I drove to Texas to meet Joyce for the first time.

It was an emotional day, to say the least. My mom and Joyce cried as they talked about their sister and their upbringings. We spent over six hours with Joyce just talking about her and looking through family photo albums. We finally found the missing piece to the family puzzle, and we know Aunt Dorothea would be just as excited about my mom’s findings.

This crazy adventure that seemingly went on forever, was an absolute emotional roller coaster for everyone. Finally figuring out and meeting my aunt’s half-siblings was an experience that will not be forgotten. My mom spent hours on end, day after day trying to piece together who exactly my aunt’s father was and along the way she had gained two new family members.

Joyce and Jerry had welcomed us with open arms into not only their homes but their lives. This adventure was so important to everyone involved because we know that Dorothea wanted this more than anything and the fact that my mom was able to fulfill her last wishes makes it more special. It was an incredible opportunity to meet people who grew up differently, but knew they had another sibling somewhere in the world and that just so happen to be my aunt.

I absolutely recommend looking into where your family is from; you never know what surprises may be hidden within the lines of your family.

About the Writer
Thea Spisz, Reporter & Illustrator

Thea Spisz is an ambitious and caring individual, eager to assist anyone in any way she can. Spisz believes that being open to ideas is the key to having...

1 Comment

One Response to “Finding the Missing Piece”

  1. Katie Arias on March 16th, 2018 8:55 am

    Heart warming story !! Absolutely loved it :)

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