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Only Child With Two Sisters

Dagmar, Carol, Yola Sisters and Mother

"You're an only child with two sisters," is what my family historian cousin said to me after reading the posts about finding my sister who lives in Rome. We had the same mother different fathers. Surprise, surprise another sister! Same father different mothers. This sister I never knew, or knew of until I was a teenager. My father was married before he went to war to fight on the side of the allies. Married and divorced, quite something in Jewish South African society in the thirties. And apparently he was the one who wanted the divorce. Fanny, his ex-wife took Rhona, their baby daughter, and went from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Where she married a guy called Eddie. She was very bitter about my father and broke off all relations with him and his family. So Rhona was raised believing that Eddie was her father. But when she was 18 or 19 she discovered her birth certificate, and she travelled to Johannesburg to meet my father's mother, our granny. More meetings were set up, but unfortunately Rhona had cancer of the brain, and a few months later she was dead. So she never got to meet her biological father. The night that my cousin said I was an only child with two sisters, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling extremely uncomfortable. I didn't want this feeling, I wanted to sleep. But eventually I allowed myself to be with the uncomfortableness. Then I could feel how much through the years I missed Dagmar, my sister that I knew, and how much grief I had for the lost years. It was as if I was sitting shiva, the Jewish ritual for the dead, for all my lost relatives, those known and those not known, culminating in every one that was claimed by the Holocaust. The procession was endless, the grief profound, but there was also relief in bearing witness.