No, she says. She's just had her first baby, a son, and wants him to meet his grandfather.
There is no money. There is no meeting.
In the decades that follow, Annette thinks about her lost sister. What does she look like? Has she married? Had kids? Is she alive? One of her sons searches public documents but, as he will discover later, names have been changed, and he finds no clues.
Annette grows old, still hoping to see her sister before she dies.
Norrine Williams is using her retirement time to dig into her ancestry on the Internet. She's been thinking about her mother-in-law, Betty, who lives in New Jersey, and who'd spent her life lamenting, "Why did my mother leave me?"
Norrine knows some things about Betty:
Betty grew up on Chicago's West Side, moved to LA at 13 or so, and always felt slightly out of place in her family. At the age of 8, she opened a trunk, where she found papers that revealed to her that she was adopted, that her parents were really her grandparents. When she asked questions, she learned that one of her brothers, who was rarely around, was really her father.
Sometimes Betty overheard conversations among her many aunts, uncles and cousins, whispers that made her wonder, "Do I have a sister?"¿
If she did, no one ever said so to her face.
So now, all these years later, her daughter-in-law Norrine, sitting in her home office in Vermont, digs through Internet sources, scouring the Chicago census from the late 1800s on into the early 1900s, cobbling together clues.
She finds an elderly woman in Villa Park who appears to be Betty's aunt, someone, perhaps the last living person, who would know the whole truth.
Norrine writes a letter to the aunt. Six weeks later, the letter comes back. Wrong address.
She finds a more recent address and asks one of Betty's sons to drop by when he's in Chicago in October. He does. Nobody home.
Norinne writes another letter, asking for information. The aunt's granddaughter responds.
Nobody was home that day because the aunt had just died.
But yes. Yes. Betty has a sister. She is alive. Her name is Annette.
Sunday, three weeks ago. Freeport, Ill., and Sparta, N.J.
Betty Williams is in her apartment at a senior citizen complex when one of her sons comes over with his wife and daughter. They all pull out cellphones.
"What's going on?" Betty says.