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  • This picture and it's story is sprouting in my mind tonight from the picture of my grandmother Tippett with her 7 sisters and my great grand-mother Wheeler, who died in the late 1960's a few years before she would have been 100.

    Both families share joys and sorrows ... but my story tonight is not from my roots ... no this story is about the young child in this picture above standing with three women, three men and two dogs.

    Her name is Pauline - she grew up to become the mother of five sons; my husband and his twin brother were her youngest. In the last week of her life she journeyed from Portland OR to Olympia WA to spend Christmas with her baby - my husband Kirk, born 7 minutes after the other of her dearly loved twin boys.

    Pauline was a quiet person most of her life - however while visiting she went to church with her son for the only time in their lives on Christmas Eve, enjoyed a wonderful meal on Christmas day and on December 26th she seemed to be ready to stop eating and trying to live much longer. Three nights later we had to take her to the emergency room at the local hospital - she had less then a week of life left. It was a sad week.

    However, back on Christmas morning while sharing a nice breakfast with us she became rather gabby! She started her story by saying ... " not many people know this, but I'm a little bastard!"

    My husband seemed startled - so I asked "What do you mean mom?"

    Mom explained to us, that since she grew up knowing she was adopted she wanted to know who her real parents were. So when my husband parents were in the 40's (living in NY where the dad was making good wages as a design artist) they hired someone to research her birth history hoped to met her real mother.

    Much to her great surprise they learned her real father was the father who had also adopted her and never told her this fact. Furthermore, her real birth mother was her aunt (blonde women in this picture behind the child and dogs) ... the women on the far right (dark hair) was married to her father and the child was raised believing she was her adopted mother only - when in truth she was her aunt!

    Clearly at the turn of the century in well off Cleveland family - the artist, teacher, sculptures affair (or worse) with the sister of his wife, was rolled under the rugs, pushed in the the closets and the baby was given a home, a dad, a mom and a single aunt that loved her very much.

    When my husbands parents learned this news - they went to Cleveland and told them what they had learned. She ended her story by saying simply " they did not want to talk about it! So that was that!"

    After she died we told other in the family this amazing secret. Many years later his older brother sent me a copy of the sisters, with their brothers, parents, two dogs - and the sweet little girl that never got to hug her so called aunt with the knowledge that she was really her mom the person that gave birth to her as a very scared and young girl.
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