Finding Barbara


There is a saying I keep by my computer that says: “Don’t let anyone tell you the sky’s the limit. Remember there are footprints on the moon”. I’m not sure who said this but this is where my journey to find my sister started. When my mother died in 1993, my sister Barbara ( Barbara is from my mother’s first marriage) and I broke our sibling bond. Mind you I didn’t grow up with her, she had her life already established in Poland when I was born and I would hear stories of her and met her a few times visiting Poland and vice versa.   The reason for the break up was because of a huge argument we had regarding what most relationships break up over, money.

As the years went by, I married, got divorced and moved on with my life. I always wondered what happened to her and especially my nephew. Does he know his grandmother passed away, does he know I got married, does he know ????….

I searched as much as I could and at that time I wasn’t as versed on computers as I am now. The last 5 years I took on a more aggressive focus on finding my nephew. I posted on every Polish forum, newspaper, and anything related to Poland from Facebook to calling Polonia in Chicago to help me. No luck. I decided in Christmas 2012 to send my nephew a Christmas card along with a short letter to the only known address I had. I never received a reply back.

Then about two months ago, I started to receive many emails (funny ones that we send to each other) from a friend of mine Anna who I worked with at my last job. She was Polish and we got on well and she kept my Polish dialect alive. She was the missing piece of the puzzle in finding my nephew. I sent her an email on how I’ve been looking for my nephew and had exhausted many resources to find him. Low and behold Anna sent me information on contacting Robert Strybel in Warsaw, a private investigator. I emailed him my plea and after a month of not hearing from him, I sent Anna my progress. She said she has a friend who recommended I contact Zenon who works for PolishOrigins who helped him in his family tree. So, I forwarded the same email to him and received the first positive information in years. The email said for a nominal fee of 300 PLN (about $90.00) they would help in the search. I thought what do I have to lose? I followed the instructions and within 24 hours, I received this email on July 17, 2013?

Dear Nelly, 

I have found Paweł and I have been speaking with him just a few minutes ago! As he told me he have received your short letter and he did reply for it. He was surprised that you have not get it and the thin thread of contact has been broken. As he was working now we were not able to talk longer, but I will send him your email address and he promised to write to you today in the evening.

My nephew kept his word. He emailed me and sent four beautiful pictures of him and his family which included my sister Barbara. OMG!!! I also received Barbara’s phone number. I couldn’t contain myself and told the girls in the office of my happiness. I knew I had a great niece, but had no clue I had a great nephew. What a beautiful family I would have missed out on if I didn’t always believe that you should never give up on your dreams.

The next day, my great nephew friended me on Facebook and we have started to message each other frequently and a few days later my great niece did the same. (I’m very Blessed that both of them can write in English because my Polish is a bit rusty). My great niece is 23 now, lives in France and is engaged, and my great nephew is 19 and is a web designer. WOW! I have such a beautiful family that I would have missed out on. I feel extremely blessed to have had the tools to achieve my dream.

I also promised both of them that I would contact their grandmother, my sister Barbara. So I called her last Saturday and at first she didn’t know who I was. Then after explaining, we started to talk. We spoke for about a half hour reconnecting and made plans to see each other the next day. My stomach was in knots, I was excited, happy, sad, every emotion you could think of. Sunday July 21, 2013 comes and we meet half way. (The saying goes… “It’s a small world after all” is an understatement. We actually live 20 minutes away from each other here in Florida). We met up at a Walmart and as I was waiting, I kept looking at all the people coming in and out and wondering is that her?, or is that her? Then the moment that has taken 20 years to become reality hit me, there she was walking toward me and we hugged and she actually said to me “This took 20 years to happen”. We sat in a Subway and talked for over 2 hours and had lunch. We aired out our grievances and I feel we have started the healing process in what lead us to our separation and other family issues. Barbara just got older and said I haven’t changed.

The best thing I ever did was never give up. If you don’t ask questions you will always be stuck in the same place, if you don’t act upon your gut feeling you may miss out on changing your life forever. I now look up in the sky and don’t think: well, it’s another hot day we have to deal with. Instead, I look and think just beyond this sky there may be footprints on the moon, but I?ve achieved something greater: my heart has begun to heal with my new found family.

Barbara and me (in purple) July 21, 2013 (20 years in the making)
Barbara and me July 21, 2013

Thank you PolishOrigins for helping me find my family!

Nelly Markowski


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