Finding More New Relatives on the Paternal Side of My Family



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Photos: (1) Helen C. Pennea, Edward Brophy Sr, Edward Brophy Jr., (2) Helen C. Pennea, Baby Edward, my grandmother and father, (3) below, Helen C. Pennea and relative. Could be uncle, cousin? They look alike.The featured photos of Helen Pennea who’s family originated from Gibraltar, Spain. Her husband Edward Brophy’s family originated from Ireland.

Last week, I told you about having started an ancestry account and mentioned that I was in anticipation of an upcoming phone call with a new found 3rd cousin, Kathleen, from my father’s side. Well, a phone call it was and it was fascinating. Two hours later, I was a lot more knowledgeable about my long lost family on my father’s side. I wonder if they have dementia in that side of the family…hmmmmm

We made a plan for me to call her at 3:00 pm my time and I found myself watching the clock all afternoon in anticipation. Well, 3pm came, I made the call and we got acquainted and seemed to have hit it off straight away. Apparently, she has been doing her family tree for about 14 years now and seemed very knowledgeable about how to navigate it and about everyone on her tree. She showed me some of the how-to-dos on the ancestry site, which I was grateful for. I had a few people listed twice which she said, could cause problems later on in my search. I will learn a lot just by looking at her tree, regarding to births and deaths. Somewhere in her journey, she found a relative and was able to make a phone call who gave her another number of a relative who knew a lot of information on the family. She gave my new cousin Kathleen information and photos, which she has posted on her tree for all to see.


We are all related to a common link, our great-great grandfather Francis Pennea, making us 3rd cousins. I believe, if I remember correctly, he was a Sandy Hook Pilot who ended up being lost at sea in the late 1800’s. It would be fascinating to find out more about that incident in history, if indeed it was even recorded in the books. I’ve been told that I can go to Staten Island where they have a place where I can find out more information and possibly find a list of Sandy Hook pilots. Might be able to find documentation on our ancestor, which would be neat info to have. I will think about going when the weather gets warm again…in the spring or summer.

At one point, she had me connect to Facebook and send a friend invite, which I did. From there we went into her friend list and she pointed out how many of us there are. She briefed me on who they are and about what they do. After our two hour conversation, she made a beautiful post on Facebook introducing me to the family and one by one I have been getting messages and friend requests. I am so happy to have found them and looking forward to getting to know them better moving forward. 

They seem like a fun bunch of people and I can hardly believe that I am related to them.

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Looking Back at Past Generations and the Possibility of Dementia

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Photos: (1) Eleanor and Edward Brophy, (2) Group shot with Edward Brophy, Eleanor (Mom, holding me), maternal grandparents, friends and Marion and Ray Corso, cousins.

This fall has definitely been a time of reflection for me. I can be doing any given thing during the day and a memory of my mother will come across me, leading to a whole string of past memories and thoughts. It makes me feel like she is right there with me. It’s also been a time of thinking of my father’s side of the family, who I basically know nothing about. I barely knew him actually, when I stop to think about it. I have found myself on a quest of researching the past generations in my family history to see what I can learn. Who were they, did they have dementia, diabetes, leukemia, Parkingson’s disease? Who are we as a family?

Last weekend, I started on Ancestry to start my family tree. It’s only been a week and I’ve already learned so much in having found up to 4 past generations. I learned that my paternal great grandfather came from Gibraltor, Spain. His wife was from Ireland.To go further, I will have to sign on for a world search, which of course, I am curious enough to follow through. Out of chance, one of the searches that I had done, pulled up my paternal grandmother in someone else’s family tree. It took me by surprise and I felt excited that it was a good find. Not really knowing yet how to work on this site, I chose to write a message to the owner of the tree to inquire. I was beyond happy when I found that she had replied. What I learned from her reply was that she is my 3rd cousin and lives on the other side of the US. She told me that she has met several cousins on this site who have shared family photos, stories and history. She mentioned that my paternal grandmother had a very rich history. I am in absolute anticipation right now since we will speak by phone today, and she will share with me all of that information on our family from my father’s side. Very exciting stuff.

I’m amazed at how I could have lived this long on the planet and not have known that side of the family, but knowing my father and how reclusive and private he was, I really shouldn’t feel so surprised. But after all, I’m not a stranger and I am a part of that family line genetically, even if he couldn’t deal with them in his life. I live in a town now where I have been asked numerous times if I was related to this Brophy or that Brophy who live here and I would always say no. There seems to be a lot of Brophy’s in this town. Now, I am not so sure since I very well could be related to them. Apparently, my paternal grandfather had 4 brothers and a sister. Who knew…and my father certainly didn’t share, which doesn’t seem very fair. Everybody has the right to know who they are in life through the past generations if only for self identity and health history.

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Feeling Like an Adult Orphan After the Last Living Parent is Gone, What Now?

As the days and weeks are passing by after my mother’s death, I have been feeling more and more like an adult orphan. I keep thinking about all that’s happened with Mom and how her absence has affected the household and those of us within it. I know that all of us feel it…and I know that even Tonya the dog feels it, as she is left alone everyday while we are at work and appears to be depressed. With me, I find myself thinking about it over and over, just running through things in my head, re-playing it in my head like a video, hoping that I did everything right by her. I sometimes get stuck on the times when I didn’t have enough patience, but then I think that nobody on the planet could have had patience all the time in those intense situations with a dementia patient when they are at their worst and in the middle of an attack, so I am probably just normal. Then on the other hand, her life was so much better than it would have been if she were in a nursing home, and thinking about that makes me happy and proud. I really do feel, that aside from her obvious problems, that she was happy living in my home and feeling secure that she was surrounded by people who loved her, even in her worst dementia moments. Really, in the end, that’s all any of us want. I was glad that I was able to do that for her. But now what is my status in life…an adult who finds herself an adult orphan after her last living parent is gone.

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The photos above are: (1) Top row, Dad’s friend, Raymond Corso, Mom’s mother and father, Marion Corso, second row, Dad’s friend’s wife, Dad..Edward Brophy, Baby Lynn and Mom…Eleanor Brophy, (2) a young Mom and sister Lillian Sarter, (3) below: Mom, Eleanor Van Meter holding me, with her whole life ahead of her.

Mom-babymeI’ve been reading a recommended book named “The Orphaned Adult” by Alexander Levy, which I am finding very interesting, relating to the very thing that I am going through right now since Mom’s death. I had never really given it any thought before, but that’s exactly how I am feeling, like an orphaned adult. Might sound silly to some, but don’t knock it until you’ve experienced it…think about it. It’s very real and almost everyone will go through it at one time or another, unless of course they die before their parents. Just think about it, this is the first time in your whole entire life that you are here on this planet without absolutely knowing that your creator is here on the planet with you…the one or two people that will always have your best interest at heart. The person or people who have worried about you since the day you were born…unconditionally. I don’t care if you had a good relationship or not, that’s not the point. It’s the knowing that there are only 2 people in the world that can hold that position in your life and somehow, whether you are in touch or not, close or not, living near each other or not, only they can fill that role…and now, suddenly, they are gone. You are here on the planet by yourself and deep down you just know, that you will never be able to count on anyone in the same way that you did your parents. When the last one is gone, it hits home big time, which is where I find myself right now. It’s a lot to think about..huge. It’s also a time where you realize that all the elders in your family are gone and you are the next in line. This is huge…a heavy weight and I feel that anyone that hasn’t gone through it, couldn’t possibly understand the feelings that come with it until they are in this same, very scary place.

I am at the beginning of this new and winding road…journey, not exactly sure where it’s taking me or the feelings that will surface as I travel my own unchartered path, but since it’s all new territory, I am hoping that I will learn from it, love and enjoy looking towards the future along the way.

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