People | Generations

Meeting My Third Family

Briefly, I was part of that mysterious organism, a biological family; no one cared about my virtues or my bad behavior.

Eva Moves the Furniture

Over the years, Roger and Merril and their children became my second family, and gradually my second family grew; as of this autumn, I have nineteen “relatives.” These relationships are ones of deep affection and many satisfactions.


Hello, my name is Gayle Phipps. My grandmother was one of Barbara’s sisters

Gayle, my new second cousin, shares her DNA with many people. She has a father, four siblings, three daughters, and four grandchildren, but for some reason she was still excited to learn of our small genetic connection. She kept writing to me. One night, I opened an email to find three photographs I had never seen before: Here was my mother as a plump toddler, a shyly smiling schoolgirl, and an elegant young woman. From the other side of the world, a part of Eva had come back to me.

“She never hurt us kids, but Dad was afraid she’d stab him. The last six months he lived with us, he slept in a locked room.”

“It was your great-grandmother’s,” she said, “part of her wedding china.” The cup, when I picked it up, weighed barely an ounce. How many relatives must have held it?

I myself, so far, have no direct experience of second sight, but last December Gayle wrote to tell me John was very ill in hospital. They were afraid he might die. Then one night his mother appeared at the end of his bed, wearing a white dress with a blue sash.

“I don’t need it yet,” Gwen said, “but what a nice color.” She waltzed the blue walker around the patio.