Family defines us. It may not be as obvious to people who come from intact families.
Health and wholeness are the very air they breathe, so to speak. The same isn’t true for those with fractured backgrounds. They understand how they’ve been shaped by their past. And often they want to reclaim what they’ve lost.
Eileen Macken was one such woman. The 81-year-old grew up in an orphanage in Dublin, Ireland.
At the age of 19, she started searching for her biological mother. She didn’t find her, but she kept persevering — for more than six decades.
The Irish Post reported Macken grew desperate as she entered her eighties. She called Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland’s national public service broadcaster.
“I think I am Ireland’s oldest orphan” says 80-year-old Eileen Macken. Born in the Bethany Home and moved to Kirwan House at 2. Given someone else’s birth cert at 16 and lived under that identity for 60 years. Found out, after DNA, the family she thought was hers was not. #Shame pic.twitter.com/ZInfqvaYMe
— Stay With Me Exhibition (@mynamesisbridge) June 30, 2018
Her plea was simple: If my mother is alive, help me find her.
It sounds like an impossible task, doesn’t it? I mean, Macken herself was blessed to still be drawing breath after crossing the 80-year mark.
But a genealogist stepped up and said he would help. According to The Sun, he made massive headway in the space of a year.
His most helpful step involved one that numerous people have taken. He had Macken submit a DNA sample.
Sure, enough the sample ended up cracking her case, and the genealogist found Macken’s mother — who was still alive at the age of 103. That amazing fact overjoyed the 80-year-old.
She explained, “A lot of people have said to me, ‘Why do you bother?’ I say, ‘What do you mean?
“‘Put yourself in my shoes, and you’re on your own.’” Macken also found herself reminded of her aloneness whenever she visited a physician.
“The doctors couldn’t understand why don’t you know this, why don’t you know that,” she said. “I got a bit upset once and I said, ‘Because I’m an orphan.’
“‘I know nothing, absolutely nothing.’” But her newfound knowledge involves more than just her mother.
She also has two half-brothers roughly her age. Macken attempted to speak with her mother on the phone, but the woman couldn’t hear her.
Macken hasn’t been able to visit her mom yet because of eye surgery that keeps her from flying. (Her mother doesn’t live in Ireland.)
However, it sounds as though little could keep her from visiting as soon as she heals. She said, “I’d love to go and scream it from a mountain, ‘I’m not an orphan any more!’”
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