I have been waiting to tell this story because it is so huge for me, but now is the time. This is more than a brick wall being knocked down…this is a whole building.
I began this blog at the end of August 2018, primarily as a place to organize and keep my thoughts, but in the back of my mind I hoped that maybe someday a distant cousin would stumble upon it and we could connect.
One of my first posts was my “White Whale” of genealogy, my search to discover the names of my great-grandfather Giulio DiBagno’s 4 sisters who remained in Italy after he immigrated to America. They were nameless, faceless to me, but I felt close to them – they were famiglia after all! In the post I mentioned how in March 2018 I tried to reach out to A* (name omitted now to protect her privacy) through Facebook, but she never responded. I was disappointed because I had a gut feeling that A* was related to me and that she would be the person to solve this mystery.
It turns out, I was right.
It was a month after I had written the blog post and I had just walked into the building where I worked. It was the end of my lunch break and I was returning from a nearby coffee shop, coffee in one hand, flipping quickly through social media accounts on my phone with the other before I prepared to put it away and get back to business…when I saw the Facebook message. It was from A*’s account and the writer introduced herself as A*’s daughter. She apologized that they were just now responding, but her mother didn’t know who I was (understandable…I had introduced myself, but I wrote in Italian, since this woman lived in Italy, and my Italian is admittedly sub-par). She said she was writing now because the night before A* was online and stumbled upon my month old blog, saw the photograph of herself as a child, enlisted her daughter (who is studying English) to translate, and here we are!
In my blog post, I expressed my hope that one day A* would respond, stating “I think she may be the key to putting together this puzzle.” A*’s daughter finished her own post with the line,
“We want to help you put the puzzle together.”
And she did! A* confirmed that I was on the right track about Bernardina Di Bagno, who was in fact A*’s grandmother. This makes A* my 2nd cousin 1x removed and her daughter my 3rd cousin. Because of A*, I now know the names of the 4 mystery sisters…and better than that: I now know my cousins. A*, her daughter, and I have spoken often (though I now use google translator, making it MUCH easier to converse) since our first conversation in early October. I find them both wonderful, friendly, and intelligent ladies, tolerant of my many, many questions. A* has given me great insight into my Italian family, then and now, invaluable information that I never could have known otherwise. I look forward to and truly enjoy our sporadic conversations and I hope one day we will all get to meet in person!
Looking back, I still find it incredible how far we have come from that Facebook post back in March. I don’t know if I will ever stop being amazed that a simple Facebook message led to a blog post that was found accidentally by a person across the world, who didn’t speak/read English, who happened to recognize herself in a photo, realized that I was the person who messaged her on Facebook, and was willing to reach out and connect.
It just goes to show, sometimes you have to take that chance, reach out, be willing to be reached out to…you never know how it may end up and who you may find on the way!