Before I start, I have to say this.
Pete Rollins (we called him Paw Paw) was my grandpa. He was the only grandpa on my father's side that I knew. He was my dad's dad.
He did all of the things that dads and grandpa's do. My dad tells stories of the memories he has being the son of Pete Rollins.
I will not discredit Paw Paw.. He was a good man.
Although it wasn't a secret, it was taboo to discuss the fact that although Pete was my dad's dad, he did not biologically father my dad.
That would be my grandmother's (June aka Noonie) first husband, Leo Gerrie (shorten from an Italian surname)..
Noonie had divorced Leo when my dad was only and infant and remarried Pete Rollins.
Back in the day it was unnecessary to file court papers to assume a name, and it was decided my dad would be called Jack Rollins..
When I was older and had a child of my own, I started asking my grandmother questions.. Before she passed, I got a handful of vague and evasive information..
Mostly just enough to make me more curious..
My grandmother passed on August 9th, 1998. She took with her, the only real knowledge of Leo Gerrie available to my family.
Fast forward to late 2010..
I was asked randomly if I knew what surname Gerrie was shortened from.. It was something I recall my grandmother telling me, but in the many years that had passed, I had forgotten.
So I did what any red blooded American would do - I googled.
The search was "Italian Surnames". Several bazillion hits popped up on the screen..
Again, I did the American thing, and clicked on the one linked to a facebook account..
I posted a simple statement on the wall of this page. Something like "my dad was born to an Italian man with the last name Gerrie. I would like to know what Gerrie is short for".
The person on the other side of the wall, Erminia Angilletta-Pisecny, replied telling me she could help me..
She explained that her site had been down for some time because her website partner Carole W. Whiddett Bienati, had passed away.. And that I would be one of the first projects she had taken on since the death.
Sadly, with the many cases of catfishing, internet scamming, and the increasing dishonesty in the human race, I was hopeful but remained skeptical and guarded as I answered this persons questions about my family and my history..
I am happy to say that my skeptisism was unwarranted.. And I have come to call Erminia Whom I now call "Nuccia", a very dear friend..
Nuccia, provided me with a detailed family tree of the Geraci "Gerrie" family tree..
And although there is much larger blog post required to explain the extraordinary events the took place over the following weeks, I came away with some very important information.
Leo Gerrie was deceased. He had been married to five times to four women..
And along with having a son born John Phillip Gerrie, otherwise known as Jack Rollins, Leo also fathered a daughter named Sharon.
Nuccia's information provided me with the name Sharon Peters.
Back to Google.
Google was a bit stingy with it's contact information for Sharon.. But after a couple of inquiries I dialed a number and left this message "My name is Kerri Rollins. Leo Gerrie was my biological grandfather and I think I am your niece".
Less than an hour later my phone rang.. The kindest voice was at the end of the line..
I wondered if she was feeling the same confusion, fear, excitement and uncertainty that I was feeling..
It wasn't a long conversation.. But it was a conversation that confirmed everything Nuccia had given me..
And I do indeed have an Aunt that until then I didn't know existed.
Since then there have been many emails and conversations between Aunt Sharon and me.. She is someone I felt an instant connection with and I am very comfortable talking to her.
And, I not only have a brand new Aunt, but an Uncle Harry and three cousins, Amy, Kelly and Jim..
Today (February 2nd) is Aunt Sharon's birthday.. To me, I guess it's only her third birthday..
I am very blessed that with some instant miracle grow, my family tree grew another complete limb.
And I hope this spring will include a road trip to visit and meet them all in person.
And give Auntie Sharon a big ol' late birthday hug.
8 months ago